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  • Writer's picturenuHEALth Jeff

Let's Delve, into B-12

One of the most common questions asked of me is what supplements do I recommend. First things first, talk to your doctor about any supplements you may be considering.  Second, I can’t recommend any supplements as a health coach, but I can share what I know, what I may or may not take, and why. This information may assist you in deciding what to discuss with your doctor.  Today, I’m discussing vitamin B-12.

It often surprises me when people think healthy food is expensive, yet won’t give it a second thought to spending a lot of money on supplements. I’m not saying supplements are bad, but keep in mind, they are called supplements for a reason.  They are “supplemental”.  Food is primary, always.  However, some people for a variety of reasons require certain supplements to assist with their individual needs. In these cases, supplements are a great option.

B-12 is one nutrient that is extremely misunderstood. It comes from animals that have eaten food covered in bacteria.  It’s also in the guts of animals and humans, but downstream from where it is digestible. Our ancestors never had this issue with deficiency since they didn’t live in the extremely clean and sanitary society that we now live in. When you bring vegetables home for example, what’s the first thing you do?  For me, I wash them well. The soil that our food is often now grown in is almost lifeless. It's for these reasons that if you choose not to eat animals, then you are likely to need supplementation. Sometimes omnivores are also b-12 deficient. If you’re vegan, it is almost always recommended by nutritional experts to supplement. If you’re vegetarian, you also may need extra, even though you’re eating eggs and dairy which contain some B-12.  Some varieties of mushrooms and algae may have B-12 but again, it’s hard to be sure you’re getting enough.

B-12 deficiency is extremely dangerous so one must be proactive about getting enough. People with certain conditions, as well as the elderly, may be more at risk. Serious cases involve anemia, nerve damage, cognitive damage, high homocysteine levels, and more. The good news is the supplement is easy to find, extremely cheap, and is hard to overdose on it since it’s a water soluble vitamin and you just pee out what you don’t need. It is possible to get enough from fortified foods, but it’s very hard to keep track and really know how much you’re getting.  Talk to your doctor also about how much to take.  I take 2500 micrograms once per week, but you can also take smaller amounts every day. You can also do blood work every so often to check your levels. They have a B-12 test, or even more accurate is a test called an MMA.

There are two main types of B-12 supplements, methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.  One of the most common questions about B-12 is which supplement to take.  I’ve seen both recommended by different experts so I rotate between the two.

The bottom line is that B-12 is an extremely necessary and vital nutrient.  A deficiency can be very dangerous so make sure you’re getting enough through animal foods if you eat them, and/or supplements.  Either way, talk to your doctor about getting blood work done to ensure your levels are good.

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