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How to Know if You're Getting Enough Vitamin B12 Each Day

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How to Know if You're Getting Enough Vitamin B12 Each Day

Research has shown that B12 deficiencies can cause memory issues, moodiness or depression, muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, low blood pressure, an unsteady gait and incontinence. Severe deficiency can cause anemia and potentially, nerve damage. This is because vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble nutrient. It is important in DNA synthesis, required for the normal activity of nerve cells and works with vitamin B6 and folate to lower blood levels of homocysteine (a chemical in the blood that might contribute to heart disease).

Vitamin B12 is commonly consumed in a variety of foods such as fish, meat, eggs and dairy products. If you happen to be a fan of eating clams or beef liver then you are getting especially high amounts of vitamin B12. In addition to natural consumption, you will almost always find vitamin B12 in multi-vitamins as it is frequently used with other B vitamins in a vitamin B complex formulation. Both Cooper Complete Original Formula and Cooper Complete Basic One contain 400 mcg per serving.

The question is, are you getting enough B12 from your diet and daily multi-vitamin? The only way to know for sure if your B12 level is low is to get a blood test. Cooper Clinic regularly measures B12 blood levels in patients who might be at risk. If you belong to one of the at-risk groups below, perhaps it’s time for you to consider adding more B12 supplementation to your routine.

Adults Over 65
Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare in the young, but it is not unusual in older people—probably 10-20 percent are B12 deficient. This may be because many older adults tend towards a diet with less animal and dairy products. It may also be because older people have lower levels of stomach acid. When stomach acid levels are low, we do not absorb as much vitamin B12 from our food. Fortunately, vitamin B12 supplements do not need acid for absorption and should bring B12 levels back to normal. 

Not only is vitamin B12 found in most animal foods; it is also only found in animal food, which means that vegans and vegetarians will eventually become deficient unless they intentionally add B12 fortified foods or B12 supplements to their diet. In fact, multiple studies have shown that not taking a B12 supplement undermines much of the health benefits that a more plant-based diet usually brings. The arteries of B12 deficient vegetarians were just as stiff as their omnivore counterparts presumably because of the elevated homocysteine levels that result from a lack of vitamin B12. These findings have led researchers to urge health conscious vegans and vegetarians to include sources of vitamin B12 in their diets through fortified foods or taking a B12 supplement such as Cooper Complete Vitamin B12 (Liquid) Methylcobalamin.

Weight Loss Surgery Patients
Individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery (commonly known as weight loss surgery) make a lifelong commitment to new dietary habits and may need to make the same fervent commitment to supplementation. During laparoscopic gastric bypass, the portion of the stomach responsible for making the stomach acid necessary for B12 absorption is bypassed. A review published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Disease stated that particularly high doses of vitamin B12 may be needed.

Long-term Users of Heartburn & Ulcer Medications
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who have been taking medications that greatly reduce stomach acid for more than two years are at a much higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Acid-suppressing medications, such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or ranitidine (Zantac), are among the most commonly used pharmaceuticals in the United States. In 2012, about 15 million people received prescriptions for a class of anti-acid medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Researchers have found that patients who take PPI medications for more than two years have a 65 percent increase in their risk for B12 deficiency. A related class of anti-acids, known as histamine-2-receptor agonists (H2RAs), are widely available over the counter and were also linked to vitamin B12 deficiency when used consistently.

Other at-risk groups include: heavy drinkers, HIV-infected persons and people with conditions affecting the digestive tract.

For those who need additional B12 supplementation, Cooper Complete Vitamin B12 (Liquid) Methylcobalamin delivers 1,000 micrograms B12 per serving. Because it is in a liquid form, the amount taken can be varied per an individual’s needs. For more information about Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements, click here.

Article provided by Karen Perkins, Account Executive, Cooper Concepts Inc.