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What is it?
Vitamin B12 is important for good health. It helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells and is also needed to make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 is bound to the protein in food. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach releases B12 from protein during digestion. Once released, B12 combines with a substance called intrinsic factor (IF) before it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
COULD IT BE A VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY?
Jane noticed that her mother was becoming increasingly confused. She couldn’t remember names, where she’d been or what she’d done that day She started taking Vitamin B12 and soon she became less agitated, less confused and her memory was much better
As we age, our ability to absorb B12 from food declines, and often so does our consumption of foods rich in this vitamin. A B12 deficiency can creep up without warning and cause a host of confusing symptoms that are likely to be misdiagnosed or ascribed to aging.
A Vital Nutrient
B12 is an essential vitamin with roles throughout the body. It is needed for the development and maintenance of a healthy nervous system, the production of DNA and formation of red blood cells. A severe B12 deficiency results in anemia, which can be picked up by an ordinary blood test. But the less dramatic symptoms of a B12 deficiency may include muscle weakness, fatigue, shakiness, unsteady gait, incontinence, low blood pressure, depression and other mood disorders and cognitive problems like poor memory.
Labs differ in what they consider normal, but most authorities say a deficiency occurs when B12 levels in adults fall below 250 picograms per milliliter of blood serum. Like all B vitamins, B12 is water soluble, but the body stores extra B12 in the liver and other tissues. Even if dietary sources are inadequate for some time, a serum deficiency may not show up for years. If the amount of B12 in storage is low to begin with, a deficiency can develop within a year, even more quickly in infants.
Those at Risk
Natural plant sources are meager at best in B12 and the vitamin is poorly absorbed from them. Many strict vegetarians and all vegans, as well as infants they breast-feed, must consume supplements or fortified breakfast cereals to get adequate amounts. In animal foods, B12 is combined with protein and must be released by stomach acid and an enzyme to be absorbed. Thus, chronic users of acid-suppressing drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, as well as ulcer medications like Pepcid and Tagamet, are at risk of developing a B12 deficiency and often require a daily B12 supplement.
Stomach acid levels decline with age. As many as 30 percent of older people may lack sufficient stomach acid to absorb adequate amounts of B12 from natural sources. Regular consumption of fortified foods or supplementation with 25 to 100 micrograms of B12 daily is recommended for people over 50.
Only some of the B12 consumed gets into the body. Treatment to correct a B12 deficiency typically involves much larger doses than the body actually requires.
B12 from natural sources must be combined with a substance in the stomach called intrinsic factor to be absorbed through the gut. This factor is lacking in people with an autoimmune disorder called pernicious anemia; the resulting vitamin deficiency is commonly treated with injections of B12.
Most doctors are quick to recommend injections to correct a B12 deficiency, considerable evidence indicates that, in large enough doses, sublingual (under-the-tongue) liquid or tablets or skin patches of B12 may work as well as injections for people with absorption problems, even for those with pernicious anemia.
Others at risk of developing a B12 deficiency include heavy drinkers (alcohol diminishes B12 absorption), those who have had stomach surgery for weight loss or ulcers and people who take aminosalicylic acid (for inflammatory bowel disease or tuberculosis) or the diabetes drug metformin (sold as Glucophage and other brands). Patients who take the anticonvulsants phenytoin, phenobarbital or primidone are also at risk.
NSP's Liquid B12 Complete provides 1,000mcg of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) per serving. In addition, each 1 ml serving (30 drops) provides vitamin B1 (as thiamine mononitrate), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), niacin (as niacinamide), and vitamin B6 (as pyrodoxine HCI). Liquid B12 Complete also contains distilled water, sorbitol, vegetable glycerin, natural flavors, citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, malic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and folic acid.
B12 Complete (2 oz)