Vitamin B-12 Recommendation Update

Vitamin B-12 is an essential vitamin that we must get either from our food or from a dietary supplement, because our bodies cannot make it. To get the latest recommendations on vitamin B-12, I recently attended an hour and a half webinar on Vitamin B-12 presented by Dr. Michael Greger of Nutrition Facts, in which he shared his newly revised recommendations for B-12. I learned that as a senior, I may not be getting enough of this essential vitamin, and many others may not be getting enough as well. That’s why I am passing on what I learned.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency can be serious. It can cause cognitive deficits, strokes, depression, bone damage, and increased levels of homocysteine leading to arterial damage. In more advanced cases, it can lead to anemia, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Vitamin B-12 is made by microbes that blanket the earth. But because we now chlorinate the water supply to kill off any bacteria, it is no longer a reliable source of Vitamin B-12. It is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods

Another source of vitamin B-12 is fortified foods. Fortified breakfast cereals are a readily available source of vitamin B12. Another fortified food source is nutritional yeast. However, the amount of vitamin B-12 varies by brand, and some nutritional yeast contain little or none.

How do you know if you are getting enough B-12? If you are a meat eater, it is likely that you are getting enough vitamin B-12., Many people these days are striving to eat less meat however. Even moderate amounts of meat may not provide enough vitamin B-12. In fact, 1 in 3 non-vegetarians are not getting enough B12. B-12 supplementation is required for all vegans and for many non-vegans as well.

Here are Dr. Greger’s recommendations for supplementation:

  • Adults up to age 65: 50 micrograms/day or a single dose of 2,000 micrograms (mcgs) per week.
  • Seniors above age 65: 1,000 micrograms/day (All seniors above 65 must take B-12 supplements daily because they don’t absorb it from food).

For pregnant woman and children:

  • During pregnancy: 50 micrograms/week or 1000 mcg twice a week
  • 6 months to 3 yrs – 5 mcg/day (no weekly rec)
  • 4 to 10 years: 25 mcg/day (no weekly recommendation)
  • 11 and over: same as adults under 65

The best type of B-12 supplement is cyanocobalamin, because of its stability. Methyl cobalamin is not as stable as cyanocobalamin and therefore not as reliable a source.

A multivitamin is not a good source. The other vitamins in a multivitamin may interfere with B-12 and therefore be counterproductive.

If you want to be tested to determine if you are getting enough B-12, here are some recommendations  Although there are tests for B-12 in the blood (serum B-12), they are not a reliable indicator of adequate B-12 because they measure more than vitamin B-12. A low serum B-12 measurement is an accurate measure that you are not getting enough, but a normal or high level is not a good indicator. A functional B12 test is more accurate. Serum homocysteine is one of those that is readily available. If your serum homocysteine is high, that could be an indication of low serum B-12.

Considering the possible serious consequences Vitamin B-12 deficiency, I hope this information is valuable to you. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them or point you to the right place.

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How To (Beet) Cognitive Decline

Have you noticed as you age that your brain is slowing down in subtle ways? What if
you could take a magic pill that would speed up the functioning of your brain? Or better
yet, what if there was a food or foods that could do the same thing?

Well, you are in luck. Beets, those purple ugly-looking vegetables, have been found to
enhance both athletic and cognitive performance in both young and older adults.

In studies, just a single “dose” of 2 cups of organic beet juice results in an increase in
brain function as a result of a significant increase in nitric oxide levels in the blood. Nitric
oxide (NO) helps blood vessels dilate to promote proper blood flow.

Dilation of your arteries helps deliver more oxygen-rich blood to your brain and muscles.
This has been shown to result in improved athletic performance. At very high exercise
intensities, cognitive task performance deteriorates with a significant detrimental effect
on reaction time. Eating beets or drinking beet juice before exercising has been found to
reduce these reaction times. Beets have also been shown to help runners run faster
without increasing their heart rates.

In older adults, exercising and consuming beet root juice resulted in brain networks
more closely resembling those of younger adults, showing that exercising and eating
beets can significantly improve brain function and keep our brains young. Beets are also
an excellent source of potassium, folate, and other minerals.

I regularly add diced frozen cooked beets to my morning smoothie. I also steam beets
and serve them alongside baked tofu and brown rice for a delicious meal. The only side
effect I’ve noticed is that my poop is beet-red!

Nutrition is the bedrock of good health. Contact me today to discuss how my coaching
can help you achieve your nutrition goals.

References:
1. Best Brain Foods: Greens & Beets Put to the Test. Michael Greger M.D. FACLM
Nov. 12th, 2018 Volume 44
2. Nitric Oxide 2011 Jan 1: 24(1); 34-42

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Are Drugs Always The Answer?

Are drugs always the answer?

One of my favorite daily activities is to glance through the newspaper looking for health-related articles. Over the last few months, I’ve been clipping newspaper articles about drugs. Here are a few of the headlines I found: “Osteoporosis drugs a concern over time.” “Diabetes drug Avandia harms heart, reports say.” “Study raises more doubts about cholesterol drugs Zetia, Vytorian.” “FDA says millions got unapproved heart pills.” “Study finds aspirin not cure-all for heart risks.” “Breast-cancer drug may lose FDA’s OK.” “Alzheimer’s drugs double death risk in elderly.” “Diabetes heart treatments (using drugs) may cause harm.”

Do you get the feeling that drugs might not be the best answer to treating chronic diseases? In fact, each year over 100,000 Americans die from properly prescribed prescription drugs. Although I am not against the appropriate use of medications – many of them are life-saving -Americans rely far too much on their use. The average American takes home 12 prescription drugs a year.

When faced with the decision to use a drug or undergo a treatment recommended by your physician, you may want to ask your doctor some questions first. In other words, be an educated consumer. Find out if the drug is effective in doing what it’s supposed to do, or whether the recommended procedure has shown to be effective. According to the Institute for Medicine, only 4% of treatments offered by doctors and in hospitals are supported with studies proving evidence of efficacy. That means that 96% are either ineffective or at least haven’t been shown to be effective.

Fortunately, you often do have other options. If you are healthy, work at staying that way. If you have developed a degenerative condition or other ailment, work at restoring your health by identifying the cause rather than treating the symptoms with drugs. Often an optimal plant-based diet will do wonders to restore your health. And eating apples, broccoli, carrots, beans, and rice have no harmful side effects!

Listen to the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.

References:
Melody Petersen, Our Daily Meds, 2008
T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and T.M. Campbell II, The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, 2004.

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