Having enjoyed the unusually warm weather of a couple of weeks ago, I was prompted to write about Vitamin D, aided by exposure to all that glorious sunshine accompanied the warmth of our early spring. Well, that research led me to read about vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in our diet with highest concentrations in liver. Vitamin B12 is also found in eggs, cheese and some fish, with vegetables generally thought to be a poor source of vitamin B12. This particular vitamin is not easily absorbed into the blood stream, and as such is difficult to be effective. Because of this, it requires one to take in much more of the vitamin than is actually required.
PROBLEMS CAUSED BY A LACK OF B12
Deficiency in vitamin B12 results in a couple of potential serious conditions. For example, a shortage of vitamin B12 can result in “subtle cognitive and neurological changes, while serious shortages can result in dementia or anemia.” (Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, August 2005).
Some scholars speculate that there may be a connection between vitamin B12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease; with many patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease showing a deficiency in vitamin B12. And vitamin B12 is vitally important in “maintaining the health of the insulation sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve cells.
The classical Vitamin B12 deficiency disease is pernicious anemia, a serious disease characterized by large, immature red blood cells” (International Health News).
Unfortunately, a large percentage (30 percent) of folks over the age of 50 “suffer from atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining. This condition reduces the amount of B12 absorbed by the small intestine,” demanding even higher intake of the vitamin. (Harvard Health Publication, August 2005).
Unfortunately, low levels of B12 in senior males have proven to increase the risk of bone fractures. Researchers measured the levels of vitamin B12 in 1,000 Swedish men with an average age of 75. They found that participants with low levels of the vitamin were more likely than those with normal levels to have suffered a fracture (University of Gothenburg).
AN EASY FIX
So, once again, it appears that as we age many of our systems begin to fail us, thus requiring that we take extraordinary measures to ensure that we are optimizing our health. In this case, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can be easily resolved. See your doctor, have a blood test to determine vitamin B12 levels, and then take any number of dietary supplements easily found in your local pharmacy.
Be mindful to review your diet to ensure you are maximizing your vitamin B12 intake through natural methods without jeopardizing any other areas of health requirements. With age comes great responsibility.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.