Everyone needs a bit of extra B12, especially in the winter…
Tired? Depressed? Forgetting things? Who isn’t these days?
Those are also symptoms of a deficiency of B12, a key nutrient needed to make red blood cells and DNA and keep the nervous system working right.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is officially considered rare, affecting about 1 in 1,000 Americans, according to a 2005 study. But the incidence rises with age, to about 15% of elderly people. The rate is also much higher among people who don’t eat meat or dairy products, people with absorption problems, people taking acid-blocking medications and those with Type 2 diabetes who take the drug Metformin.
…Other conditions can also interfere with B12 absorption, including celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. “I thought I was going to die in my sleep because I had so little energy,” says Ellen Icochea, a senior executive at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who had a very low B12 level along with several major medical problems. Weekly B12 injections made a dramatic difference. “It was like, ‘Wow, here’s energy!’ ” she says.
“B12 deficiency is much more common than the textbooks and journal articles say it is,” says Alan Pocinki, an internist in Washington D.C., who routinely tests his patients who fall into those categories. He also notes that since the Metformin connection was discovered only recently, some physicians aren’t aware of it. “They assume that if patients complain of numbness and tingling in the feet, it’s a diabetes issue and not a B12 issue.”
Other symptoms of low B12 include anemia, depression, dementia, confusion, loss of appetite and balance problems. Long-term deficiency can bring severe anemia, nerve damage and neurological changes that may be irreversible.
Sometimes the symptoms are subtle. Internist Linda Assatourians, one of Dr. Pocinki’s partners, says that a surprising number of her young female patients also have low levels of B12. Typically they are healthy and active, but they don’t eat much meat and they have minor mood, memory or balance problems. “When I supplement their B12, they feel better,” Dr. Assatourians says. “It’s not a controlled study, but I see a lot of them.”
(click to continue reading Tired And Confused? Vitamin B12 May Be Low – WSJ.com.)
I have a bottle of Solaray B-Complex sublinguals on my desk right now, actually.