What are your Vitamin B12 levels like? You might follow a Paleo diet, but are your levels optimal? And if not, what can you do about it?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is still quite common – with this deficiency occurring even amongst those of us Paleo diet followers who eat the richest source of Vitamin B12 – animals! Some of the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include depression and anxiety, lethargy, Autism spectrum disorder in children and (unwanted) weight loss. It can also show up with Alzheimer or dementia like symptoms.
How can Vitamin B12 deficiencies occur?
Sometimes it can be as simple as us setting the bar for “normal” a little too low. While, on paper everything could check out and look normal, Vitamin B12 levels might still be too low and we could still be suffering from B12 deficiency symptoms. In countries like Japan they actually have higher “normal” B12 markers and in having a higher bar set they have less cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In many cases, as meat eaters, we don’t look for low Vitamin B12 levels – as we assume we eat meat we are getting plenty and Doctors don’t actually check for it.
Another issue is consuming sufficient Vitamin B12, but the body failing to absorb adequate quantities. For some who have stomach disorders such as Crohn’s disease, or have or suffer from diarrhoea it can affect your ability to absorb minerals, vitamins, nutrients from our food – this include Vitamin B12.
How can we reduce our risks of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
If you eat animal products regularly along with some offal, such as liver occasionally, you should be getting enough Vitamin B12 in your diet. There may also be no need to supplement your diet, if you don’t suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above. If you do have some of the symptoms mentioned or you do suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder that might be limiting your ability to absorb Vitamin B12, then it is worth asking your doctor next time you visit if you can have your vitamin B12 levels tested. Of course, to be able to extract reasonable levels of Vitamin B12 from your diet, you need to be consuming good quality (grass fed and finished) meat. If the animal didn't have access to good nutrition, their meat won’t provide it to you either.
If you're Vitamin B deficient, you might find that you may be more susceptible to heavy metal toxicity, if your diet or body contains them – such as mercury, lead and cadmium. Vitamin B deficiency can also be linked to depression, with the B vitamins crucial for the direct synthesis of the brain neurotransmitters. Apart from the fact they are needed (along with folate) for the homocysteine pathways to provide methylation, which is essential for the making of neurotransmitters. It is these neurotransmitters that are involved with the production of homocysteine as well. Tests have shown that those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have higher levels of homocysteine in their body. When the homocysteine pathway is functioning correctly it produces the depression relieving neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
Have you had your Vitamin B12 levels checked? Do you supplement, or ensure your diet provides optimal levels?