Vitamin B-12 Deficiency and How Chiropractic Care Can Help
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin is one of the eight B vitamins we need. Our body needs B12 as it is necessary in the production of red blood cells as well as the proper functioning of nerve tissues and healthy brain functioning. It also helps in the regulation and synthesizing of DNA.
B12, and all B vitamins are water soluble and they travel through our bloodstream. Vitamin B12 is not stored in the body and any excess amounts are excreted through urine. Structurally this vitamin is the most complicated and the largest.
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal products such as fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Typically this vitamin is not found in fruits and vegetables making B12 intake a challenge for vegans and some vegetarians. It is critical that vegans take supplements as well as women while pregnant and during breastfeeding.
Foods that are good sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Beef, pork, ham, poultry, and lamb.
- Fish, especially haddock, sardines and tuna.
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Some nutritional yeast products.
Some foods are fortified with B12 such as some types of soya milk and breakfast cereals.
According to Health Canada recommended daily intake of B12 should be 2.4 micrograms per day for men and women ages 19 to 70. Pregnant women should take 2.6 mcg per day and lactating women 2.8 mcg daily. Some health professionals claim that Health Canada provides a low estimate on what daily vitamin intake should be so if you are concerned that these daily values are not enough for you then be sure to visit a qualified health professional.
For those individuals over the age of 50 it is even more important to not only get the minimum daily recommended allowance but to have your B12 levels checked regularly. As we increase in age our bodies become less able to absorb this vitamin not only from the foods we eat but from supplements. It is critical in order to maintain good health to know that your body is actually absorbing B12.
- This is the only vitamin that requires a specific substance for absorption.
- 30 % of vitamin B12 is lost during cooking.
- Vitamin B12 is destroyed by light.
- This vitamin was discovered in 1948.
B12 Deficiency & Symptoms
B12 deficiency is more common in those over 50 years of age. Malabsorption of this vitamin is the main cause of deficiency in those who are older. This is caused by atrophy of the gastric mucosa and the gradual loss of gastric acid.
Low levels of this vitamin can cause a reversible blood disorder called pernicious anemia. This causes fatigue, difficulty thinking and concentrating. Other symptoms of B12 deficiency include:
- Feeling light-headed, weak, and lethargic.
- Bleeding gums.
- Experiencing a sore, red tongue.
- Pale skin.
- Constipation or diarrhea.
- Weight loss.
- Feel sick to the stomach.
If the level of vitamin B12 has been very low for a long period of time it can damage nerve cells. If this has occurred some symptoms may include:
- Poor sense of balance.
- Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes.
- Loss of mental abilities.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is not something to be ignored because there is a serious risk of permanent nerve and brain damage. Those who do not get enough vitamin B12 have a higher risk of developing psychosis, mania, and dementia.
Infants who lack vitamin B12 may have unusual movements which may include:
- Face tremors.
- Reflex problems.
- Feeding difficulties.
- Eventual growth problems if left untreated.
B12 Deficiency Treatments
Increasing the foods that have vitamin B12 is the first course of action; however, if your deficiency isn't caused by a lack of vitamin B12 in your diet, chances are you’ll need injections. Vitamin B12 is available in an injectable form to be given subcutaneously, intramuscularly, or intravenously.
People with Leber's disease or those who are allergic or sensitive to cobalt or cobalamin must consult their health care provider before taking vitamin B12 supplements.
For a person who is suffering with nerve damage there may be help through chiropractic care in conjunction with either diet and/or B12 supplements. Every person is unique and must be seen by a chiropractor to see if there is chiropractic treatment available for them.
Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help assess your needs. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.
For a comprehensive list of foods that contain vitamin B12 please go to Dieticians of Canada.