A stubborn myth about vitamin B12 just won’t go away. What is that? Only vegetarians can be deficient in this important B vitamin.
Not only is this untrue, it may be a dangerous myth to believe.
Left undetected and unaddressed, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, intestinal issues, limited nerve development, mood disturbances and much more.
Your body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA and to carry out essential functions for your heart, arteries and veins, nervous system, brain and cognitive function.
There’s no way you can enjoy optimal health without adequate levels.
However, as many as one in four people – mostly non-vegetarians – may be deficient in vitamin B12.
Because meat and dairy are primary sources of B12, it’s not surprising that vegans and vegetarians might be deficient. But who else?
Next, it was thought that older folks might be the ones most likely to be deficient, but then, results from the ongoing Framingham Offspring Study knocked down that idea...
The Framingham researchers found that those aged 26 to 49 had about the same B12 status as individuals aged 65 and up. What surprised them even more was the discovery that vitamin B12 plasma levels weren’t related to meat or fish intake.
So what is going on with vitamin B12? We know that about 25% of individuals may be deficient, so what’s causing this to happen?
Why Are So Many People Becoming Vitamin B12 Deficient?
Vitamin B12 is different from other B vitamins in that it is only produced by bacteria. Your body is unable to produce it, so it relies on animal sources to get enough of this important B vitamin.
Experts have been telling us for years that eating meat, fish and dairy pretty much ensures healthy vitamin B12 levels, as long as you don’t have a gastrointestinal issue.
However, now, they realize that because the vitamin is tightly bound to the proteins in animal foods and requires high-gastric acidity to release it, low vitamin B12 levels can also be the result of an absorption issue and not just eating too little meat.
Researchers believe three factors are involved in the widespread B12 deficiency we’re seeing today:
- Many people don’t have enough stomach acidity due to lower levels of pepsin secretion to release the vitamin B12 from dietary proteins.
- Factory-farmed meat and poultry (the most common types consumed today) contain lower levels of vitamin B12.
- Insufficient production of intrinsic factor, a special protein, required for B12 to be absorbed in your small intestine may be the result of aging or an autoimmune condition.
Concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), or factory-farmed, animals don’t produce as much vitamin B12 because the bacteria that makes the vitamin lives in soil and the guts of healthy animals.
Cows and chickens raised on pasture obtain the vitamin from the dirt on their food. However, CAFO animals are fed mostly genetically engineered, pesticide-laden corn and grains, which aren’t good sources of vitamin B12.
The pesticides in the feed kill off soil bacteria and the antibiotics routinely given to CAFO animals kill off the beneficial microbes in their guts that produce B12.
The Common Groups to Be Vitamin B12 Deficient
Surprisingly, there’s a long list of individuals, in addition to vegetarians and vegans, that may be at an increased risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Anyone over age 50 will likely have a limited ability to absorb B12 due to decreased intrinsic factor, a transport and delivery binding protein produced in your stomach
- Those with gastrointestinal issues that may affect absorption of B12
- People who regularly drink alcohol, as B12 is stored in your liver
- Pregnant women
- Those who drink more than four cups of coffee daily
- Women taking birth control pills for extended periods as estrogen impairs absorption of B12
How Many of These Deficiency “Red Flags” Do You Have?
Doctors rarely test for vitamin B12 levels, so most people don’t know if they are deficient.
Low levels of vitamin B12 are easily missed because the signs of deficiency can resemble other conditions, or they may be simply ignored because of their gradual onset.
So, how can you tell if you might be deficient? Any of these “red flags” could mean your levels are low:
- Mental fogginess, trouble thinking and occasional forgetfulness
- Mood changes, such as feeling sad, hopeless, anxious or restless
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty relaxing
- Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep
- Occasional headaches
- Tingling in your hands, legs or feet
- Joint discomfort
- Muscle weakness
- Dizziness or balance issues
- Eye twitching or eyelid spasms
- Occasional digestive and elimination issues
Here’s the thing about all these red flags and lab testing... Upon testing, about 50% of people who have obvious signs of deficiency will still have B12 levels in the “normal” range for standard lab values.
If you have any of the above symptoms, be sure to rule out a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Why Older Individuals May Be at Greater Risk
The onset of these symptoms can occur early on, even before you’ve reached deficient levels of B12. Research suggests that’s particularly true for older individuals.
A study involving more than 100 volunteers, aged 61 to 87, showed how just having B12 levels in the low range of normal can put you at risk for health challenges.
For example, those with the lowest B12 levels had a six-fold greater rate of brain volume loss compared to those with the highest levels.
None of these volunteers were actually deficient, according to normal lab ranges. They simply had levels in the low range of normal.
This finding led the study’s lead researcher to recommend maintaining vitamin B12 levels above the “normal” range – no matter your age.
As you age, you have a couple of factors working against you that can place you at greater risk for low levels of vitamin B12. For one, you may not be getting enough in your diet.
But even if you do consume good sources of vitamin B12, like meat, seafood and fish, brewer’s yeast, eggs and dairy products, you can still have low levels of B12.
Why is that?
The B12 molecule is so large, it needs a special glycoprotein called intrinsic factor to aid in its absorption. Intrinsic factor is produced in your stomach and binds with B12 for absorption in your small intestine.
With age, the lining of your stomach gradually loses its ability to produce intrinsic factor, making it more likely you will have low levels of vitamin B12.
12 Reasons Why You Need Sufficient Vitamin B12
We’ve looked at how common vitamin B12 deficiency has become and why you may be at risk. Now, let’s take a closer look at why you need adequate levels of B12.
Your body depends on vitamin B12 to:
- Maintain normal energy levels by converting carbohydrates to glucose and fatty acids into energy – two major sources of fuel for your body.*
- Support healthy cognitive function, mental clarity, alertness and concentration.*
- Ease stress and promote a positive mood and feelings of well-being.*
- Promote healthy neurological activity, including maintaining healthy nerve endings to support normal nerve growth and development.*
- Break down homocysteine in your blood for healthy heart and brain function.*
- Maintain healthy circulation by helping to regulate the formation of red blood cells and the proper use of iron.*
- Promote optimal adrenal health and hormone production.*
- Ease occasional sleeplessness by supporting normal melatonin production.*
- Support female reproductive cell health.*
- Maintain healthy cell growth and repair, and promote healthy cellular aging.*
- Promote healthy immune function.*
- Support normal carbohydrate and fat metabolism.*
Your body needs adequate vitamin B12 to produce healthy cells. Lower levels of B12 can result in fewer red blood cells. What cells your body does produce will be larger than normal and unable to deliver adequate oxygen to your cells, tissues and organs.
Could Taking Vitamin B12 During the Day Help You Sleep Better at Night?
If you experience occasional sleep issues, I think you’ll agree... There’s nothing worse than the feeling of not being able to fall asleep – or fall back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Could taking vitamin B12 during the day help?
As you age, it can become more challenging to get a good night’s sleep, partly because your body becomes less efficient at making melatonin, your “sleep hormone” that helps...
- Regulate your body’s circadian rhythms and sleep patterns*
- Bring on sleepiness to help you fall asleep faster*
- You stay asleep longer*
- Improve the quality of your sleep*
- Support alertness and concentration in the morning*
Vitamin B12 acts on your pineal gland – the gland that produces melatonin. B12 not only helps increase the production of melatonin during the night but also influences its release to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.*
The production and release of melatonin into your bloodstream occurs according to your circadian rhythm, or your sleep-wake cycle, that runs on a 24-hour “clock” in your brain.
Looking at the influence of vitamin B12 on the sleep-wake cycle, a study with healthy individuals found that those taking high levels of a certain form of vitamin B12 enjoyed significantly improved sleep at night and increased freshness and concentration throughout the day.*
Avoid This Popular yet Toxic Form of Vitamin B12
It’s important to know that not all forms of vitamin B12 are created equal. Vitamin B12 contains the mineral cobalt, so any compound with vitamin B12 activity is called a “cobalamin.”
The study I just mentioned that looked at the influence of vitamin B12 on the sleep-wake cycle compared two forms of vitamin B12: cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.
Being more biologically active, methylcobalamin, or “methyl B12,” is the most bioavailable and most absorbable form of vitamin B12.
The benefits of significantly improved sleep quality at night and increased freshness and concentration throughout the day occurred only in the methyl B12 study group. These results were not seen in the group supplementing with cyanocobalamin.*
Other studies have suggested that methyl B12 is better utilized and retained in your body because it is already in the active coenzyme form naturally found in your body.
However, the most common form of vitamin B12 in dietary supplements is cyanocobalamin. Clearly inferior to methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin only becomes biologically active after your body converts it to methylcobalamin.
How Much Methyl B12 Do You Need?
Most supplements supply between 100 and 200 micrograms (mcg) of B12. However, the absorption rate of vitamin B12 is very low.
Even if you took a dose as high as 500 mcg, with an absorption rate of one-third of 1%, you would only actually get about 1.8 mcg total.
For that reason, I recommend a dose of 1,000 mcg in the preferred active form, methylcobalamin.
And then, there’s the issue of analogs… something most people know nothing about.
Many multivitamin products on the market today contain potentially hazardous B12 analogues. Analogues are created when crystalline B12 interacts with other nutrients in multivitamin products, such as vitamin C, iron and copper.
Vitamin B12 analogues resemble the real vitamin, but they aren’t, and they compete with the real B12 molecules by binding to intrinsic factor. This makes it more difficult for your body to absorb the real vitamin B12, raising your requirement for B12 – and your risk for deficiency.
To help optimize your levels of vitamin B12, I recommend taking it without other unrelated nutrients, like iron, copper and vitamin C.
Sometimes vegetarians will rely on plant foods like seaweed, algae and mushrooms for their vitamin B12, but they are not reliable sources. Some act as vitamin B12 analogues that block the uptake of B12 and increase your body’s requirements.
The Fast and Easy Way to Get an Optimal Dose
There’s no faster – or more efficient – way to get methylcobalamin into your system than with a spray.
That’s why we formulated Methyl B12 Energy Boost in a convenient, easy-to-use spray. This is what I personally use to get my vitamin B12.
With our spray, you receive methylcobalamin in a rapidly absorbable form that deposits directly into your circulatory system and then into your tissues and cells, unlike pills and capsules that must be absorbed through your gut.*
It’s the perfect solution for those with absorption issues – or those who simply don’t like to or can’t swallow pills.*
With each five-spray dose of Methyl B12 Energy Boost, you receive 1,000 mcg of methylcobalamin in a tasty natural blackberry flavor that contains:
- No artificial flavors and colors
- No cyanide
- No sugar or carbs
- No yeast, wheat or gluten
- No soy
- No eggs, salt or dairy
- No binders, fillers or gelatin
Best of all, our Methyl B12 Energy Boost is stimulant free and tastes great. And it's packaged in a convenient pre-metered, non-aerosol container that easily fits in your purse, pocket or work bag.
If you experience occasional sleep difficulties, try taking Methyl B12 Energy Boost during the day, as it plays an important role in melatonin production during the night.
Help Fire Up Your Energy With Methyl B12 Energy Boost*
If you sometimes feel tired, uneasy or foggy-minded... or find it difficult to get restful sleep each night, it’s time to take action.
Low levels of vitamin B12 are very common – affecting as many as one in four people.
And that’s not ideal as your body needs vitamin B12 to carry out essential functions for your heart, arteries and veins, nervous system, brain and cognitive function.
Without sufficient levels, your body can’t produce healthy cells. The few red blood cells that are produced with low levels of B12 will be larger than normal and unable to deliver adequate oxygen to your cells, tissues and organs.
That’s why even I take Methyl B12 Energy Boost – I know my cells and mitochondria can’t function properly without enough methylcobalamin. It’s just not worth the risk to me to run low.
Take Control of Your Health®, and order Methyl B12 Energy Boost today.