First For Women

B-12 SHORTFALLS trigger an epidemic of female fatigue


B-12 deficits are draining 90% of women over 50, suggests a Tufts University study. ”B-12 plays a vital role in metabolizi­ng fat, protein and carbs into energy,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D. And it works in tandem with the B vitamin folate to make healthy red blood cells that transport energizing oxygen through the body. But 60% of women have genetic variations that impede the conversion of B-12 into its active form; plus, drop-offs in stomach acid that occur after age 50 can impair B-12 absorption. So even if you supplement, it may not lift B-12 levels. The result? Fatigue, fog and more.

Complicati­ng matters: Even women without the genetic glitch can fall short in B-12 if they adopt a strict plantbased diet. In fact, research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that plant-based plans raise the risk of B-12 deficiency by 600%.

Blood tests can measure B-12. But the tests can produce false results, and as Dr. Pescatore notes, levels many doctors consider normal can produce symptoms. His advice: Ask for tests that measure homocystei­ne and methylmalo­nic acid, substances that rise in the blood when B-12 is low. If either is low, the steps below can help.

Taking supplement­s can lift energy in four weeks. Dr. Pescatore’s advice: Each day, take 2,000 mcg. of sublingual

methylcoba­lamin, which delivers B-12 via blood vessels under the tongue, and 1,000 mcg. of methylfola­te, a form of folate that’s readily used by the body (two to try: Solgar Sublingual Methylcoba­lamin and Klaire Labs L-Methylfola­te,

Diet changes help. Dr. Pescatore advises scaling back on sugar, which depletes B-12. Also smart: Enjoy foods rich in both B-12 and folate, like beef, fish, shellfish and eggs.

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