Food sources vs SupplementsB12 is found mainly in animal products such as eggs, fish, meat, poultry and dairy while nori, mushrooms and fermented soybean products contain trace amounts of it. Digestive bacteria have the ability to make this vitamin too, although not much of this is absorbed. Supplemental B12 comes in 3 forms:
- Injection by your healthcare practitioner every couple of months
- Oral tablet or capsule which is swallowed and enters your digestive tract
- Sublingual tablet that dissolves under your tongue and enters directly into your bloodstream
Are you at risk of a B12 deficiency?You are at greater risk of developing a deficiency if you:
- are ageing (due to declining stomach acid levels)
- have irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn’s or coeliac disease or other digestive condition
- are diabetic
- vegetarian or vegan
- pregnant or breastfeeding
- can’t make enough IF eg: pernicious anaemia
- consume high levels of alcohol
- take certain medications eg: reflux, oral contraceptive pill, antivirals, antibiotics
4 health conditions that B12 can improve
- Heart disease A deficiency in B12 can lead to elevated homocysteine levels, considered an independent risk factor for heart disease. The effects of elevated homocysteine can’t be seen or felt; there are no obvious outward symptoms. Homocysteine creates havoc in your cardiovascular system by promoting blood clot formation, making your blood ‘sticky’, prevents your small arteries from dilating and works together with LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol to damage the inner lining of your blood vessels. This vitamin reduces elevated homocysteine levels.
- Low mood & memory Elevated homocysteine levels are also implicated in problems with low mood, irritability, poor memory and impaired mental function generally. B12 supplementation, particularly in conjunction with vitamin B6 and folic acid, can help reduce elevated homocysteine levels for improved mood and to reverse impaired mental function.
- Chronic fatigue B12 plays a crucial role in the rate your body processes proteins, fats and carbohydrates from your diet. A B12 deficiency slows down these processes (metabolism) so your energy levels drop, and when combined with our stressful lifestyle, can leave you feeling chronically fatigued. This vitamin maintains a healthy metabolic rate for improved energy levels.
- Diabetic complications Peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes where high blood sugar levels over time damage the peripheral nerves, usually the hands and feet, causing pain, burning, numbness or weakness. B12 helps to reduce nerve pain and numbness by supporting the nervous system.