B12 - Why it's so important, Why you May Be Low and How to Get Enough!
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in several bodily processes. It is one of the essential vitamins that the human body requires for normal functioning. In clinical practice, I see B12 having the most impact on ENERGY LEVELS. Many people struggle with low energy. They can't take enough naps or sleep long enough to shake being tired all the time. Often, I find that it's low levels of B12 and other B Vitamins. Here are some Highlighs about vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, nerve function, and the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids. This means that we need adequate amounts of B12 to make high quality red blood cells (which help with energy). If we get too low, we can also experience things like numbness and tingling down the arms and legs. If it severe enough and lasts long enough, this damage can become permanent. If we have issues metabolizing fatty acids and amino acids, we don't have what we need for a healthy metabolism.
Food sources of B12 include animal-based foods such as meat (particularly liver), fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and certain types of seafood. It is not commonly found in plant-based foods unless they are fortified with B12. The fortified version is often not as good as the form found in the animal sources. For this reason, vegetarians or vegans often need to supplement with a high quality source.
Even though many of us consume enough Vitamin B12, it has a complicated absorption profile. This nutrient is bound to proteins in food and needs to be released by stomach acids and enzymes. It is then combined with a substance called intrinsic factor, which is produced in the stomach, for proper absorption in the small intestine. When stomach acid levels are inadequate (think stress, acid blocking medications, etc) then it becomes hard to break down B12. Malabsorption conditions like celiac, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and other similar conditions also restrict our absorption of B12.
Making sure you consume healthy amounts of B12 in your diet and address any concerns with stomach acid or malabsorption are very important. In cases where you do need to supplement, you want to take a high-quality form of B12 that is best absorbed by your body. In my opinion, this is the methylcobalamin form. I like a supplement called Mitocore for this. It's a good energy support/multivitamin with a good amount of B12 in this form. You can check out the product by creating a free account under my fullscript dispensary
I recommend talking to a Functionally trained health care provider if you have concerns about your nutrient status or health in general. I'm happy to chat with you if you have questions. You can book a free discovery call below.
To your health!