Energize with B-12!
By Dr. Karl
We all want to be all that we can be. Within our minds and hearts, we see ourselves doing the amazing things we know we’re capable of. But to our dismay, many of us run out of energy before accomplishing our goals. Did we become distracted, confused about our direction, or just plain exhausted?
Energy is the ability to go and do what must be done. Most mothers care for their children no matter how tired they are – making us wonder how they keep going and doing the impossible. This is one of the reasons we celebrate and honor our mothers each year on Mother’s Day.
Our basic energy level is inherited maternally through unique cells called mitochondria. In addition to these genetic influences, our energy depends upon having healthy mitochondria. We need an ample array of all the B vitamins (B-complex) in order to keep our mitochondria healthy. Magnesium is required for the final release of energy from the packets produced by the mitochondria.
Unless symptoms of deficiency are experienced, you may be deficient in B-12 without realizing it. It is common for older adults to be deficient in B-12 due to problems with absorption and the fact that B-12 requires certain enzymes to be synthesized. B-12 may be injected, taken sublingually (under the tongue) or obtained through special whole food supplements.
Natural dietary sources of B-12 include meat (especially liver), eggs, and dairy products. Given these natural sources, it’s easy to see why vegetarians often have inadequate B-12 levels. Absorption requires a healthy digestive system to release intrinsic factor so that it can be absorbed. (See my previous article on Digestion in the Body Mind Spirit Guide magazine or at www.karlwellnesscenter.com) Other people have B-12 deficiencies due to what are called, Genetic SNiPs, which affect an average of 46.9% of people in the USA (Journal of Epidemiology, 2009.)
The group of B-12 vitamins are known as cobalamins. As a cofactor for many reactions in the body, vitamin B-12 helps support the blood, the digestive system, vision, and the nervous system.
Although I’m focusing on B-12, all B vitamins are important. If you increase certain B vitamins but not all of them, your body thinks you have a deficiency in the ones that you did not add. Similar to taking vitamins that are not based on whole foods or scientifically produced according to strict standards, imbalances and other deficiencies in the body are eventually created as the body tries to deal with what’s missing.
When taking B vitamins, it’s important to get plenty of good absorb-able calcium. Your body requires an adequate supply of calcium in order to utilize them. If you don’t have the required calcium, your body takes it first from your jaw bones which may leave you with loose teeth. That’s a scary thought!
If you are taking our Vitamin D regimen and eating plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables and /or raw dairy with the enzymes intact, you should be okay, as one of the beneficial effects of obtaining vitamin D is calcium absorption. (Shame on you if you’re not taking a high quality vitamin D supplement. Knowing the importance of vitamin D on overall health, please take me seriously and get your levels checked!) I also recommend a Calcium lactate supplement as vitamin D, calcium, and essential fatty acids work synergistic-ally.
If you’re wondering if you have a B-12 deficiency, I’ve provided a list of potential problems. Although the liver can store three or more years of B-12, this just means that your body is allowing you time to fix the problem, not ignore it. If you have gastrointestinal problems, you are probably not producing intrinsic factor and not absorbing B-12. Secondly, if you are taking folic acid (homocysteine problems) without B-12, it’s likely that this ratio is out of balance.
Some of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency include: Dizziness, Chronic infections, GERD, Sore Tongue, Premature Grey Hair, Addictions, Orthostatic hypotension, Hypertension, and Shortness of Breath.
Causes of B-12 deficiency include: Alcohol, H. Pylori, Leaky Gut, GERD, SIBO, Eating Disorders, IBS-IBD, Advanced Chronological Age, GI Cancer, GI Irradiation, Pancreatic Cancer, Liver Disease, Tropical Sprue, MEHFR and GST SNiPs, among others.
Drugs such as antacids, aspirin, steroids, anti-hypertensives, oral contraceptives, antibiotics, metformin, statins, proton pump inhibitors (Nexium, etc.), and H2-blockers (Zantac, etc.) among others, may cause B-12 deficiency.
Increased demand for B-12 can be caused by athletic endeavors, pregnancy, cancers, multiple myeloma, and surgery. (Since anesthesia can be dangerous with B-12 deficiencies, some anesthesiologists give B-12 pre-operatively.)
There are four variations of vitamin B-12 typically used in supplements:
Cyanocobalamin is the most common and least expensive form. Until recently, most supplements contained B-12 in this form. However, this form must be used in higher quantities and converted in the liver to a useable form. In the process, it releases cyanide into the body, another obvious downside.
Methylcobalamin is a form of B-12 that protects the nervous system by promoting nerve cell regeneration. However, people who get jittery from caffeine may not do well with this form.
Adenosylcobalamin (dibencozide) is a highly-active form of B-12 that is essential for energy metabolism. It is required for myelin sheath formation and RNA/DNA synthesis associated with maintenance of nerve and spinal cord health.
Hydroxocobalamin is another active form of B-12 which is mainly produced by bacteria and can be converted in the body to usable coenzyme forms of B-12. This unique form assists in detoxification and is a scavenger of nitric oxide. As it is more protein-bound, it remains in circulation longer.
When looking at your particular situation, it’s important to determine which form of B-12 may be most ideal for you. Using the newer delivery systems, it’s possible that you could get back up to speed with oral supplementation. If not, you may need to receive the injectable version first. Specific blood tests along with muscle response testing help us make these kinds of decisions.
Dr. William H. Karl, D.C.