Damage from deficiency
At least one in four adults in the US are deficient in vitamin B12, with studies such as one by Tufts University highlighting it's more likely to be close to 40%. This insidious deficiency affects millions upon millions of people, regardless of age, circumstances, gender, diet etc.
There are multiple reasons for this occurring, from the growth of lifestyle diseases which inhibit absorption such as gut inflammation, to increased consumption of foods which stop absorption like alcohol. However, mostly it is due to something outside of our control - how our food is treated.
We can argue back and forth on the paleo diet all we want. However, one thing is for sure, modern paleo eaters don't eat the way true palaeolithic did. Why? They are missing chunks and chunks of natural fertile soil in their diets. Palaeolithic people didn't eat lumps of mud, necessarily, but their vegetables were covered in dirt. With that dirt came plenty of good bacteria, including the bacteria that produces B12.
Am I deficient in B12?B12 is stored in the body for a long time, which means that if you've developed issues with absorption or aren't getting rich sources of the vitamin in your diet then it can sometimes take several years for the deficiency to rear its head.
B12 primarily relates to energy. It supports the body to produce red blood cells, helping you supply oxygen to all the muscles and organs. It also impacts upon the brain, as it supports serotonin production, which is key for preventing anxiety and depression in day-to-day life.
So fatigue, anaemia, depression and anxiety are early warning signs. However, if left untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to some startling and sometimes irreversible problems. These can include the following...
- paranoia, delusions and hallucinations from declining mental wellbeing
- memory loss and poor short-term memory
- yellow and sallow skin as blood cells degrade in quality
- nerve damage, typically starting with minor bouts of pins and needles in your hands and feet
- swollen tongue with a declining number of taste buds
- dizziness, nausea, and feelings of vertigo
- optic damage, with warning signs including blurry vision, shadows in your field of vision, and bouts of double vision
What to do about it
We understand that much of this sounds scary, but at Hippocrates and LifeGive we really think it is. Few deficiencies are nearly as widespread and as harmful as B12 deficiency.
As health practitioners, we provide supplements for different individuals dependant on their own circumstances in order to help them heal and thrive. Not every supplement is for every person, and we work hard to help people understand what's right for them.
Vitamin B12 is an exception. There are no circumstances to differentiate one person from another. Simply, this supplement is absolutely recommended to every single person. It's an essential vitamin, it's far too easy to become lacking, and the dangers of falling into that position are paramount.