As a health coach, I am always preaching the importance of getting your vitamin levels tested. All vitamins and minerals perform a certain function in the body. Therefore, it is important that we are getting all the vitamins and minerals that our body needs to sustain life. Deficiencies can come up for any number of reasons. Sometimes our body doesn’t absorb vitamins or minerals like it should, resulting in a deficiency. In the past two weeks, I had a very personal experience come up with my mother and it was a very scary one.
My mother has been a vegetarian for 3 years (which is exactly the length of time it takes for stored B12 levels to fully deplete). Her doctor never put her on a B12 vitamin, which he should have done. In fact, everyone should be on a B12 vitamin, whether they are vegetarian or not, especially those over 50 years old because as we get older, it gets harder to absorb B12 through food sources, making supplementation necessary. Interestingly, in India, doctors who practice Ayurvedic Medicine prescribe B vitamins on a regular basis, while in this country doctors are not quick to prescribe it, with some pretty dangerous consequences. Because my Mom’s B12 levels were severely depleted, she wound up in the hospital for two weeks.
B12 supports our central nervous system. When we have a severe B12 deficiency, it could lead to serious consequences. It could mirror the symptoms of aging, like dementia and also psychosis. In fact, there are many people who are misdiagnosed with dementia, when in actuality; they have a severe B12 deficiency. Hallucinations, fatigue, depression, paranoia, confusion, and memory loss are very common issues associated with a B12 deficiency. These symptoms can be reversed once B12 levels start to rise again. In extreme cases, they might not be reversible. Unfortunately, my mother had many of those symptoms. Thankfully, she is on the road to recovery. She is a shining example of how important it is to ensure that we are getting enough B12 in our diet.
The important thing to remember is that B12 ONLY comes from animal sources. Here are the top 10 sources of B12
- Liver (Beef)
- Fish (Mackerel)
- Crustaceans (Crab)
- Fortified Soy Products (Silken Tofu)
- Fortified Cereals (All Bran)
- Red Meat (Beef)
- Low Fat Dairy (Skim Milk)
- Swiss Cheese
Make sure you are getting your B12 from food sources, supplementation, or both. Get those B12 levels tested frequently. A regular blood test is not a true marker of B12 activity. You have to get a methylmalonic acid (MMA) test. This is a true marker of B12 activity and it’s a special test that needs to be ordered. If you have loved ones that are suffering from some of the symptoms that I mentioned, get their B12 levels tested. In extreme cases, hospitalization could result from a B12 deficiency. Don’t let it get to that point. It will save you a lot of stress and worry in the long run.