What do ve­g­ans, obese peo­ple & al­co­holics have in com­mon?

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Dr He­lena Popovic

What do the fol­low­ing five groups of peo­ple have in com­mon?

• con­sum­ing a purely ve­gan whole food diet

• hav­ing gas­tric by­pass surgery (e.g. for the treat­ment of obe­sity)

• be­ing over the age of 50

• tak­ing antacids to treat stom­ach ul­cers, hia­tus her­nia, in­di­ges­tion

• suffering from al­co­hol de­pen­dency.

Essen­tially, they all con­trib­ute to vi­ta­min B12 deficiency and if you said ‘yes’ to more than one of the above, you have a VERY HIGH risk of be­ing B12 de­fi­cient.

Why is vi­ta­min B12 so im­por­tant? 1. Vi­ta­min B12 is found nat­u­rally only in an­i­mal foods.

It is found par­tic­u­larly in fish (es­pe­cially shell­fish), crab, caviar, dairy, liver, meat and poul­try. An­i­mals store B12 in their liver and mus­cles and may pass vary­ing amounts into their eggs and milk. Duck eggs pro­vide 10 times more B12 than chicken eggs. Goose eggs pro­vide 20 times more B12 than chicken eggs (just in case you have ac­cess to them). Fae­ces is also a rich source of B12 hence rab­bits, dogs and cats some­times eat fae­ces. But let’s not go there.

2. Ve­g­ans need syn­thetic B12 in for­ti­fied foods or supplements.

Sources of B12 for veg­e­tar­i­ans in­clude milk, cheese, yo­ghurt, eggs, some yeast ex­tracts and for­ti­fied prod­ucts like tofu, soy and break­fast ce­re­als. If buy­ing for­ti­fied foods, read la­bels to avoid added sugar. Cheeses con­tain vary­ing amounts of B12 with Swiss, Moz­zarella and Feta be­ing good op­tions (in that or­der).

3. B12 needs to be re­leased from food be­fore it can be ab­sorbed.

B12 is unique among the B vi­ta­mins in that it can be stored in the liver for up to two years. This is good news. All other B vi­ta­mins re­quire con­sis­tent daily in­take. How­ever, B12 ab­sorp­tion re­quires ad­e­quate amounts of two sub­stances that tend to de­cline with age: stom­ach acid and ‘in­trin­sic fac­tor’ (IF). In­trin­sic fac­tor is se­creted by pari­etal cells in the stom­ach and it ‘un­locks’ B12 from food. In other words, B12 needs to be re­leased from food be­fore we can ab­sorb it.

As we age, the stom­ach tends to pro­duce less acid and less in­trin­sic fac­tor, thus re­duc­ing our ab­sorp­tion of B12 even if we ap­pear to be eat­ing ad­e­quate amounts. Thirty per­cent of peo­ple over the age of 50 have re­duced ab­sorp­tion of B12. Ex­ces­sive al­co­hol con­sump­tion leads to in­flam­ma­tion and dis­rup­tion of the stom­ach lin­ing im­pair­ing our abil­ity to ab­sorb B12. Sim­i­larly, gas­tric by­pass surgery de­creases stom­ach vol­ume and along with it, stom­ach acid and IF. Hence the five groups listed at the start are at risk of B12 deficiency. How­ever, syn­thetic B12 is al­ready in free form & doesn’t re­quire stom­ach acid for ab­sorp­tion.

What is the rec­om­mended daily dose of B12?

About 2.4 mi­cro­grams (mcg) per day. One serv­ing of fish (salmon, mack­erel, tuna, trout, etc.) pro­vides ad­e­quate daily needs. If you eat a diet that in­cludes a se­lec­tion of the above-men­tioned B12-con­tain­ing foods, you will be con­sum­ing suf­fi­cient amounts.

You will need more than 2.4 mcg if you are preg­nant or breast­feed­ing (2.7 mcg) or have an un­der-ac­tive thy­roid, drink a lot of al­co­hol, take antacids, have had stom­ach surgery or are over age 50. Cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions such as coeliac or Crohn’s dis­ease can make it very dif­fi­cult to ab­sorb B12 from food. In th­ese in­stances, you will need to take supplements on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. There is no of­fi­cial up­per limit of B12 in­take be­cause you will get rid of any ex­cess in your urine.

In the next is­sue of Great Health GuideTM, I will dis­cuss the es­sen­tial role that B12 plays in proper func­tion­ing of the brain and ner­vous sys­tem, in the for­ma­tion of red blood cells and in me­tab­o­lism of car­bo­hy­drates, pro­teins and fats.

Dr He­lena Popovic is a med­i­cal doc­tor, lead­ing au­thor­ity on how to im­prove brain func­tion, in­ter­na­tional speaker and best-sell­ing au­thor. He­lena runs weight man­age­ment re­treats based on liv­ing not di­et­ing, and is the au­thor of the award­win­ning book ‘Neu­roSlim­ming – let your brain change your body’. For more in­for­ma­tion, re­fer to He­lena’s web­site.

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