Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Foods with B12

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Foods with B12

Even a small deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia, fatigue, male infertility, heart disease and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, was the most recent vitamin to be discovered in the late 1940s. The body absorbs B12 through a very complicated process: digestive enzymes in the presence of enough stomach acid separate B12 from the protein in foods. The vitamin then binds with a substance called intrinsic factor (a protein produced by cells in the stomach lining) before being carried to the small intestine, where it is absorbed. Low levels of stomach acid* or an inadequate amount of intrinsic factor – both of which occur with age – can lead to deficiencies. However, because the body may have good reserves of B12, it may take a year or two for a deficiency to develop.

Who is at risk of B12 deficiency?

The level of B12 in the blood decreases with age. People with ulcers, Crohn’s disease or other gastrointestinal disorders are at risk, as are those taking prescription medication for epilepsy, chronic indigestion or gout. Excessive alcohol also hinders absorption of B12.

Excess vitamin B12 is readily excreted in urine, and there are no known adverse effects from a high intake of it.

Vitamin B12 benefits

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin needed for normal nerve cell activity. B12 maintains the protective sheath around nerves (myelin) which can be thought of as the rubber coating around the copper wire in electrical cable. When  B12 is lacking, the myelin sheath is destroyed and will lead to symptoms seen in Multiple Sclerosis.

With its beneficial effect on nerves, vitamin B12 may lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Vitamin B12 has beneficial effects on the nerves, and therefore may help to prevent a number of neurological disorders as well as the numbness and tingling often associated with diabetes.

In a preliminary trial, vitamin B12 reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by at least 50% in 10 of 19 people with recurrent migraines.

Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood-cell production.  B12 deficiency causes pernicious anaemia.

Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in the production of DNA and RNA, the genetic material in cells.

It’s involved in the production of the mood-affecting substance SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine).

B12 may also play a part in treating depression.

Moderately high blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid-like substance, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis.  Vitamin B12 acts with folic acid and vitamin B6 to control homocysteine levels.

Some studies suggest that it lengthens the period of time between infection with the HIV virus and the development of AIDS.

Vitamin B12 may be beneficial for people with delayed emptying of the stomach in association with Helicobacter pylori infection and low blood levels of vitamin B12.

AquaSource Green Energy contains Klamath Lake Algae AFA, Hawaiian Spirulina and Organic Alfalfa

AquaSource Green Energy contains Klamath Lake Algae AFA, Hawaiian Spirulina and Organic Alfalfa

It has been shown to be helpful in Age-related cognitive decline. In a study of women with cardiovascular disease or related risk factors, supplementing daily with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 appeared to prevent age-related cognitive decline in those with low dietary intake.

A combination of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and vitamin B1 may prevent a common type of back pain linked to vertebral syndromes and may reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medications.

Vitamin B12 is required for male fertility. Deficiency of B12 can lead to male infertility.

Vitamin B12 deficency can cause urinary incontinence.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Animal Foods:

The top B12  animal foods include Offal, Oysters, Mackerel, Herring, Sardines, Clams, Caviar (fish eggs), Octopus, Beef, Lamb, Goose eggs, Duck eggs, and a small amount in Chicken eggs. B12 is also found in smaller amounts in many other non-vegetarian foods such as soya, tofu and milk.

Vegetarian and Vegan foods:

Algae such as Klamath Lake Algae (AFA) and Spirulina, and brewer’s yeast, marmite and some fortified cereals. (Klamath Lake Algae AFA, and Spirulina, also contain Folic Acid which is ideally taken alongside vitamin B12.

According to Gabriel Cousens, MD, in his article “Microalgae – First and Finest Superfood” published in Body Mind Spirit Magazine in May 1995:

“No vegetarian need ever worry about not getting enough B-12 in their diet if they are taking either or both of these blue-green algae superfoods.”

He further says about the algaes:

“Both have high human-active B-12 concentrations, but AFA has about seven times more B-12 per gram than spirulina. The AFA human-active B-12 amount in one gram equals the daily B-12 requirement for most people. I recommend about 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of AFA per day. Spirulina is the second most concentrated vegetarian B-12 source on the planet, 250 percent more than an equal weight of liver, and has 14 times the daily B-12 need in 100 gms. One tablespoon of spirulina (1 to 3 tablespoons is the average daily dose) will give you two-and-one-half times the daily human-active requirement of B-12. Taken together, spirulina and AFA provide many times the human daily requirement of B-12. No vegetarian need ever worry about not getting enough B-12 in their diet if they are taking either or both of these blue-green algae superfoods.”

* Stomach acid, also known as hydrochloric acid, has been shown to normalise with the use of green smoothies. See Victoria Boutenko’s Book Green Smoothies.