Do you need a B12 booster?

Bay Area

Did you ever think being deficient in a single vitamin could do so much damage?

June is Brain Health Month and this one vitamin is key to optimal brain function.

Health expert Karen Owoc tells us why B12 deficiency and borderline deficiency are so common.

Plants don’t make B12, so vegans must supplement their diets with B12.

Those who eat eggs, dairy, fish, and meat mistakenly think they don’t need to worry about consuming sufficient amounts of B12, but cardiac patients and older adults need to be especially aware.

Vitamin B12 plays a key role in:

• Normal functioning of the brain and nervous system

• Formation of red blood cells, nerves, and DNA

A severe deficiency can lead to:

• Alzheimer’s disease

• Deep depression

• Anemia

• Nerve damage

A B12 deficiency can sneak up slowly, but can also appear and intensify quickly.

Since there are a multitude of symptoms, the condition is often overlooked and diagnosed as something else.

Early detection and treatment are critical.

If you don’t consume enough B12 (through supplementation or the foods you eat) or can’t absorb this vitamin, no matter how much you take in, you are at risk of developing a B12 deficiency.

Ask your doctor to check your B12 level (blood test) if you:

• Use commonly prescribed heartburn drugs* that reduce stomach acid. Stomach acid is needed to absorb B12.

• Are a cardiac patient — Cardiac patients often take medications, such as calcium channel blockers or beta blockers, that weaken the muscle that closes off the esophagus causing acid reflux and heartburn.

 Are over 50 years old — You produce less hydrochloric acid in your stomach as you age.

• Are a vegan — There are no known plants that are sources of B12.

• Have a condition that interferes with the absorption of food (e.g., celiac disease or Crohn’s disease).

Good sources of Vitamin B12 include fortified foods and animal/dairy products, such as:

• Clams, 3 oz.

• Sirloin steak, 6 oz.

• Salmon, 3 oz.

• Nutritional yeast, fortified

• Yogurt, 8 oz

• Milk, 8 oz.

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