MIN­IMIS­ING RISK OF BRAIN DAM­AGE

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Dr He­lena Popovic De­sign Olha Blagodir

This ti­tle may seem alarm­ing how­ever the facts are in­dis­putable. With to­day’s lifestyle, there is a very high risk for cer­tain peo­ple be­com­ing B12 de­fi­cient…and it’s eas­ier than you could imag­ine. In the last is­sue of Great Health GuideTM, I dis­cussed the groups of peo­ple who were at the high­est risk of be­com­ing B12 de­fi­cient.

Here is a list of the groups of peo­ple at risk.

1. con­sum­ing a purely ve­gan whole food diet

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

3. be­ing over the age of 50

4. tak­ing antacids to treat stom­ach ul­cers, hia­tus her­nia or in­di­ges­tion

5. suf­fer­ing from al­co­hol de­pen­dency

Es­sen­tially, each of these fac­tors 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.

How do I know if I’m vi­ta­min B12 de­fi­cient?

Ask your doc­tor for a blood test. Tell your doc­tor if you are tak­ing fo­late tablets be­cause fo­late can mask the anaemia seen in B12 de­fi­ciency.

So, what if I’m vi­ta­min B12 de­fi­cient?

You could end up with anaemia, de­men­tia or ir­re­versible brain and nerve dam­age. How?

Vi­ta­min B12 be­longs to the B vi­ta­min fam­ily. It has seven sib­lings: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B9. A vi­ta­min is de­fined as a car­bon-con­tain­ing com­pound that is es­sen­tial for life but which can­not be pro­duced by the hu­man body and must there­fore be ob­tained through the diet.

B vi­ta­mins like to play to­gether. In other words, they have many food sources in com­mon and their func­tions in the body are of­ten in­ter­re­lated. B12 is the largest and most com­plex of all vi­ta­mins.

B vi­ta­mins are wa­ter-sol­u­ble which means if we con­sume too much of them, we ex­crete them in urine. If you’ve ever taken vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments and no­ticed that your urine is more yel­lowy-green than usual, you might be flush­ing money down the toi­let - lit­er­ally.

Vi­ta­min B12 was named ‘cobal­amin’ be­cause it con­tains the el­e­ment cobalt. It can oc­cur in sev­eral dif­fer­ent forms and the hu­man body can con­vert one form into an­other af­ter con­sump­tion.

B12 plays an es­sen­tial role in proper func­tion­ing of the brain and ner­vous sys­tem, in for­ma­tion of red blood cells and in me­tab­o­lism of car­bo­hy­drates, pro­teins and fats.

Con­se­quently, B12 de­fi­ciency can re­sult in:

• a par­tic­u­lar type of anaemia known as ‘mega­loblas­tic macro­cytic anaemia’

• ir­re­versible brain and nerve dam­age - it can be re­versed if di­ag­nosed and treated early enough

Symp­toms of B12 de­fi­ciency can in­clude:

• feel­ing weak, fa­tigued and breath­less

• mem­ory prob­lems, con­fu­sion and for­get­ful­ness

• de­pres­sion

• headaches, dizzi­ness or light head­ed­ness

• pale skin

• ma­nia and psy­chosis

• re­duced ap­petite and weight loss

• numb­ness and tin­gling in hands and feet

How do I take B12 sup­ple­ments if I need them?

B12 sup­ple­ments come as tablets (of­ten in mul­ti­vi­ta­min for­mu­las which is fine), nasal gels and in­tra­mus­cu­lar in­jec­tions. Ask your doc­tor to rec­om­mend the most ap­pro­pri­ate form for you.

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 award-win­ning book ‘Neu­roSlim­ming – let your brain change your body’. For more in­for­ma­tion, re­fer to He­lena’s web­site.

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