At Cenegenics Boston, we focus heavily on fitness and nutrition in our healthy aging program. Clean, unprocessed foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats – give us the vitamins and minerals we need to thrive. But what happens when we are eating in such a way that excludes one or or more vitamins we need for optimal health? Today we are going to talk about Vitamin B12.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is fittingly known as the energy vitamin, and your body requires it for a number of vital functions. Among them: energy production, blood formation, DNA synthesis, and myelin formation. Myelin is insulation that protects your nerve endings and allows them to communicate with one another.

What happens if you are B12 deficient:

Symptoms or warning signs of a possible B12 deficiency include:

  • Mental fogginess or problems with your memory
  • Mood swings, a feeling of apathy or lack of motivation
  • Fatigue, a lack of energy, muscle weakness, tingling in your arms or legs

There are many well-documented cases of blindness and brain abnormalities in strict vegetarians, resulting from extreme vitamin B12 deficiency.

You could be B12 deficient if:

  • You are a vegan or vegetarian
  • You are over 50
  • You take antacids or anti-ulcer medication
  • You take Metformin© for diabetes
  • You take other prescription drugs known to deplete your B12 stores (see list above)
  • You drink four or more cups a coffee a day
  • You have or had an H. pylori bacterial infection
  • You’ve had weight loss surgery
  • You’ve been exposed to nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • You suffer from indigestion, heartburn or GERD

How to get Vitamin B12:

The best way to get Vitamin B12 is naturally, through your diet. Grass-fed beef, raw milk, and eggs are among the foods with the highest amount of B12. If you are unsure if you are getting enough B12 in your diet, you can also look to supplementation, with either an under-the-tongue fine mist spray or vitamin B12 injections.

Ensuring your body has adequate B12 can vastly improve the quality of your life today, and prevent debilitating, even life-threatening diseases which result from a deficiency of this all-important nutrient.

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