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B12 deficiency is common in elderly patients. One study revealed a prevalence of 12 percent among elderly people. Other studies, focusing on those who are in institutions or who are sick and malnourished, have suggested a higher prevalence of 30 percent to 40 percent. Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is often unrecognized because the clinical manifestations can be very subtle. In fact, one of its manifestations — mild memory loss — can mimic the early stages of dementia. (source – The Journal of Family Practice)

Vitamin B is critical to so many of the bodies natural healthy functions and B12 is just one of the many B Vitamins that make up B complex.  Vitamin B 12 is helpful in many areas including:

  • proper food digestion and absorption
  • healthy nervous system function
  • formation of red blood cells
  • proper circulation
  • healthy immune system function
  • mood regulation
  • mental clarity, concentration, memory function

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan you could be missing out on some of the needed Vitamin B 12 as it is often found in animal food sources.  Other items that can create a deficiency in Vitmain B12 are:

  • Inadequate production of stomach acid — As we age, our bodies are less capable of producing as much hydrochloric stomach acid necessary to release B12 from the food we eat.
  • Long-term use of antacid/antiulcer drugs — If you take antacids, you are restricting the amount of hydrochloric acid your stomach is producing.  Since Hydrochloric acid is a requirement for the absorption of vitamin B12, you are artificially creating a B12 deficiency.  These Antacids can include drugs such as Zantac and Tagamet, and proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and Prilosec.
  • Use of the drug metformin for Type 2 diabetes — Use of metformin (brand names include Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Fortamet, Riomet, and Glumetza) may inhibit your B12 absorption, especially at higher doses.
  • Coffee consumption — Four or more cups of coffee a day can reduce your B vitamin stores by as much as 15 percent.
  • Gastric bypass surgery – reduction of the stomach size will again reduce hydrochloric acid production.
  • Exposure to laughing gas (nitrous oxide)

Some general warning signs that you may be lacking in Vitamin B12 could include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Lack of energy
  3. Memory problems
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Mood swings

The scary part about B12 deficiency is that it might not show up for several years after your body has become deficient.  By this time irreversible damage to your body could have already occurred.

That is why it is so important to make sure you get plenty of Vitamin B into your body each and every day.  And not just Vitamin B 12.  The benefits of Vitamin B Complex are crucial to your bodies overall health and wellness.

There are eight known B vitamins and all good products have all eight, in a somewhat balanced form. The eight (8) are Thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2) panothenic acid, niacin, vitamin B-6, biotin, folacin, and B-12. The are essential for human metabolism, growth, reproduction, general health, appetite, the normal functioning of the digestive tract, nervous stability and blood cell formation.

B vitamins are competitive in the body, thus the balance is important. B vitamins must be taken together in a balanced, complex form in order for your body to use them correctly. Your metabolism can be thrown off by taking an isolated component of the B’s alone.

B vitamins have many positive affects on our bodies. They are so important they are one of the few nutrients the federal government mandates to be added to certain foods.

The problem with depending on only foods for an adequate supply of B is that intense heat, slow cooking, light, baking soda and baking powder all destroy B vitamins.

Consuming sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods also causes your body to lose its supply of B. If that weren’t enough, stress is another factor that can lead to a depletion of your body’s reserves.

So the moral of the story is:

Make sure you get enough of the B Vitamins.  For most of us that means taking Vitamins to supplement our diet.

Its something to think about!