B12 - A Naturopathic Perspective
B12 is a vitamin that is essential. That means that it must be ingested. You do not produce your own B12 as with some other B vitamins. It must come from a dietary source.
Foods that provide B12 are liver, trout, clams, and salmon. Other red meats provide some. The vegetarian or vegan is at very high risk for B12 deficiency disease. Grains, eggs, chicken and dairy provide some but levels are low. Meat eaters and vegetarians who do not have good levels of hydrochloric acid will be susceptible to B12 deficiency.
The Gut Link and B12 Deficiency
If the parietal cells in the lining of the stomach do not work well they will secret deficient HCL and that is one way you can know if you are at risk for a B12 deficiency. If these cells are secreting deficient HCL they will also be secreting deficient intrinsic factor that is responsible for B12 absorption. Reflux disease is caused by low stomach secretions so that is another indicating factor that you might be B12 deficient. Elderly people are at significant risk due to atrophic conditions in the stomach.
Intrinsic factor is carried down into the intestines with the digestive chime. It is in the lower intestinal area that B12 is absorbed into the blood stream. People who have had intestinal resections due to irritable bowel or crohn’s disease may be severely deficient in B12 if this section of the gut has been removed. Generally they will be receiving a monthly B12 injection but I would recommend a weekly injection for them since they are not assimilating any B12 on their own.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency may be anemia, pernicious anemia, fatigue, even if mild, depression, bursitis, insomnia, and chronic nerve disorders that may include tingling of the hands or extremities as well poor healing of nerve damage from injuries such as strains.
To know if you are truly deficient a B12 analysis can be done by blood work but be aware that many naturopathic doctors consider the low normal ranges too low. With a B12 level of 220 a supplement may be indicated even though 200 is considered normal. Regardless of what your lab work says many people feel better with supplementation of B12, which clearly indicates that conventional thinking for the RDA of B12 is likely wrong,
The naturopathic perspective will always address the causative factor and naturopaths are likely to be more generous with B12 injections, giving them daily or weekly as needed instead of the previously prescribed once a month injection. Injections have been the preferred application during acute deficiency as they bypass absorption problems. For long term management of the disease a nutritional consultation may be required to make sure the diet is adequate as well as addressing and correcting absorption problems though other diet regimens and supplementations. A healthy gut with appropriate diet will not produce a B12 deficiency.
B12 can be taken by intramuscular injection, subcutaneous injection, orally and sublingually by lozenges or drops. Liposomal B12 is a newer form of B12 that provides better oral absorption and may be a good option for some people. Some children with ADD and ADHD have greatly benefited from daily subcutaneous dosages of B12, which may indicate that the origin of their problem may be in the gut.
Recently I had an injury to my hip and sacrum muscles that required physical therapy for many months with the guidance of an orthopedic physician. Finally my general practitioner recommended B12 injections daily for a while to see if it would ease the sciatic pain I had going down both legs. It worked like a charm and in less than one week I was pain free with the pain decreasing daily over seven days. B12 has a profound effect on the nervous system and damaged nerves.
B12 injections should be administered to all people who have been in serious accidents to facilitate nerve repair, in post surgical recovery, who have digestive issues, who are on feeding tubes and people who are elderly and experiencing age related fatigue. It should also be trialed on children who have ADD and ADHD. There are no side significant side effects to taking B12. Some people tolerated oral applications better than injections as in rare cases injections may cause dizziness, likely from the rush of vitamin through the system.
I have used the following B12 injections with great success.
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