Vitamin B12

I see so much vitamin B12 lacking - deficiency in almost everyone's blood that I see for Live Blood Analysis - not all for the same reasons. And more and more (young) people switch to eating vegetarian and vegan ways - for whatever reasons - environmental, spiritual or financial - and often doing it on the advice of advertorials in "health" magazines that are covertly plugging products such as unfermented soy products and spirulina and such. I shudder. 

Also quite "shuddering" is the mis-diagnoses of a B12 deficiency due to masked symptoms from health care professionals. Lack of B12 causes many issues that mimick symptoms that receive / promote the taking of many prescription medications: depression, anemia, chronic fatigue, some nervous disorders, etc. Depression, for example, is never considered as a possible coming together of three related issues: B12 deficiency, a low thyroid (AND poor T3 and T4 thyroid hormone uptake at the cellular level) and fatigued adrenals. And inappropriate tests abound for all three of these challenges! Instead, anti-depressants (with their numerous side-effects) are handed out as a first choice. So here are some B12 details, just in case it may have some bearing on your health choices. I hope it makes a difference!

I always assumed GPs tested for B12 once in a while to make sure all their patients have enough of this... but not so and the test is lacking (see end of this article).

The most important thing to know is that there are several kinds of B12 and they are not at all created equal - and described below.

For example, Analog B12, also called cyanocobalamine, the kind that you cannot absorb, is removed from the body thru the stool. If your doctor's lab tests your stool for B12 then it’s Analog (not humanly active) that they will find and they’ll say it’s fine as after all they have just found it! You can actually be quite deficient of the real active absorbable B12 in spite of mainstream medical tests. We take in analog type B12 mostly from eating plant based foods and it can block the good B12 from metabolizing and being absorbed.

Analog is also found in spirulina, chlorella, sea vegetables, tempeh, barley, malted syrup, shitake mushrooms, and above all (the ultimate culprit) unfermented soy products (beans, flower, filler, tofu, milk, ice cream etc) and more. It’s presence blocks the absorption of any good B12 which is Hydroxocobalamine and Methylcobalamine. 

Hydroxocobalamine and Methylcobalamine are the two bio-available kinds of B12’s which are found mainly in red meat - significantly in liver (which should be organic), beef, lamb, buffalo and bison; less but still some is bio-available in shell fish such as clams, mussels, oysters; and also some in wild salmon, trout, haddock, tuna and most other fish; and we find a bit in egg yolks. There is virtually no B12 in chicken and pork. For example - one egg has the same amount of useable B12 as in 1/2 a chicken - and this is still very little).
An omnivore who turns into a vegetarian can become very deficient in as little as 4 months! We store B12 in our livers when we take in more than our bodies require.

B12 - the Hydroxocobalamine and Methylcobalamine varieties - is what you want to see your supplements and possible B12 shots made of. This is the kind our bodies need, use, absorb and store. Without B12 we can become very ill. Look carefully for the right kind at quality health food stores as a lot of poor quality abounds - it is very telling which companies will spend a bit more on quality content and which ones want us to blindly swallow the analog variety - the kind also known as cyanocobalamine.

B12 deficiency can parade / mimic as many conditions such as inflammation, indigestion, constipation, poor co-ordination, mood swings, depressions, the beginnings of MS such as numbness and tingling in the limbs, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, infertility and increases in existing autism symptoms.

When B12 is bioavailable (through food and good B12 supplements), then there is help with improving sleep quality, degenerative neurological diseases, depression, detoxing thru methylation and many more important chemical reactions.
B12 is intricately involved with the health of the bone marrow (where all your red and white cells are created) and the nervous system. B12 is also, as with so many complex factors in our body, a co-factor in OTHER intricate chemical pathways and a necessary and essential requirement that the body has that is not just directly related to bone marrow and nerve health.
B12 together with folic acid (B9), is a critical co-factor for the production of enzymes which methylation depends on (crucial) and which, in turn, neurotransmitters, hormones, energy production at the cellular level and detoxification are dependant upon.

What kind - some is useless - the right kinds support us?
Cyanocobalamine B12 supplements – the kind most often seen on the store shelves (always in all the big box stores) is ineffective and requires much higher dosages for only a small advantage.

B12 is part of a complex dance – the stomach's hydro-chloric acid, intrinsic factor, R-protein, the intestine's enzyme Pepsin, the intestinal bacteria and the intestinal-wall villi, all have to be in good supply and good working order. These tend to decrease with age, when not given attention and can be completely depleted and lacking from medications, anti-biotics, chemo-therapy, incorrect colon cleansing, illness and neglect... And all of this can cause dysbiosis (leaky gut syndrome).
Low hydrochloric acid in our stomachs causes less control of the bacteria's environment there and then improperly creates more of the analog B12 that blocks the beneficial B12, inspite of good food choices and supplementation (and this can lead to bloating - of course there are many more reasons for bloating) and also reduces the necessary intrinsic factor which MUST be present for the B12 in food to be absorbed in the gut. Many people have this challenge – and it is easy to fix. When there is B12 deficincy - for whatever reason - then a resultant homosistein deficiency can also be measured (low levels are not good for the heart). Guesswork is not advisable with an unhappy intestine. Live Blood Analysis will show where the weaknesses are.

GP’s may offer various tests for B12 deficiency. This is a great idea – as long as it is not a blood test. These often deliver false positives and false negatives and also measure the free analog B12 – unproductive. It's of no value to know that you are circulating the stuff you don't want and then be told that there you have it! Your B12 is fine! (The standard blood test numbers scoring above 550 pg/ml (picograms per milliliter) are deemed okay and sufficient by standards set in Japan - but lower numbers in North America are accepted as normal and deemed healthy!) hmmm...

The most accrurate and useful test is a methyl malonic acid (MMA) urine test as methyl malonate is elevated in the urine in people with B12 deficiency. In BC the urine test must be demanded or else the standard blood test is trotted out! Or a homocysteine test - far cheaper and easier to get. High homocysteine means low B12 and a retest of homocysteine in 6 months.

People taking drugs such as Omeprazole (Prolosec), Tagament, Pepsid, Zantac, Lansoprazole (Prevacid), and Metformin and people with celiac disease, malabsorption and / or Chrohn's disease are more likely to have challenges - even when eating the right food sources.

When the digestive system is compromised, then sub-lingual (under the tongue) B12 supplements can make small and gradual improvements.

Your GP may offer B12 shots – a great idea if your mercury fillings have been replaced with porcelan – otherwise there will be more harm than good. Again, check to see what kind your physician or naturopath is actually using - they may have had an eager salesperson persuade them to get the cheaper cyanocobalamine variety for the B12 shots.

Eating your way to B12 health is a wonderful alternative option - the best option. Eat the right foods and maintain a healthy intestinal track to metabolise your fine B12 containing foods and get this essential health factor working in your favour at all times. 
Use a live blood analysis session to see where your weak spots are, so that there is no guessing. 

Merrie Bakker
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