Episode 24: Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 wears a number of important hats. It aids in the normal functioning of the immune and nervous systems, helps with red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis and recycles the amino acid Methionine. It is also very useful in preventing and treating a list of conditions as long as a US election cycle, and covering a wide variety of body systems. It tends to often be overlooked as a therapeutic agent, even though up to 20% of the world’s population require greater amounts, due to a genetic predisposition towards poor absorption. B12 levels can also get lowered due to peptic ulcers caused from H. Pylori infection, vegetarian and vegan diets, long-term use of psyllium husks for regularity and colitis in all it’s forms. It can also be lowered due to the administration of aspirin, oral contraceptives, antacids, anesthetics, diabetic drugs, antibiotics and anti-retrovirals.

Natural consequences of aging and gastric bypass surgery are the decline in levels of stomach acid, pepsin and intrinsic factor. These acids and enzymes are essential to the absorption of B12.
Although the adult RDAs for B12 are set at 2.4 micrograms/day, many people exhibit a far greater requirement for amounts approaching 1-2000 micrograms/day due to the above-mentioned reasons.
Natural sources of Vitamin B12 are present almost exclusively in animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. Certain bacteria that are present in our guts, and on certain plant foods also produce trace amounts. However, seeweeds such as spirulina and nori, only contain B12 analogs (which are smaller molecules that exhibit B12 characteristics, but don’t actually function the same way). That brings us to the intervention.

The gold standard for B12 supplementation is an intramuscular injection of 1ml of either methyl-cobalamine or hydroxocobalamine solution. This is usually given at your doctor or naturopath’s office at a frequency that varies according to individual needs (from weekly to monthly).

Although slightly less absorbed, oral routes are also possible. In this case 1000 micrograms daily or 3-5000 micrograms once per week of either of the above-mentioned forms can be taken.

Tune in next week when we’ll talk about Plantar warts.

Be Well and Be Zen

Until next week, I’m Alex Audette, and this is the 2 Min Health Intervention Podcast. If you would like a transcript of this episode, go to my website blog at www.zenacupuncture.ca/blog

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