Could you be at risk of B12 deficiency? For decades it was thought that the risk was limited to the elderly and those on a diet free of animal source foods. However, more recent research by Sally Pacholok, R.N., B.S.N. and Jeffrey Stuart, D.O. as reported in their book, Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses, has demonstrated that B12 deficiency is a silent crippler that involves people of every age and every walk of life. You cannot afford to be ignorant of the prevalence of this deficiency and the lack of proper testing by the medical community. Undiagnosed B12 deficiency can have a devastating impact on your family.
B12 Deficiency — Do You Have It?The prevalence of B12 deficiency is underestimated due to reliance on what is considered “normal” serum levels (we'll discuss the fallacy and tragedies of relying on this test alone next week).
“Tufts University researchers, analyzing data from the large-scale Framingham Offspring Study, found that nearly 40 percent of participants between the ages of 26 and 83 had plasma B12 levels in the “low normal” range – a level at which many people begin experiencing neurological symptoms. Nearly 9 percent had outright deficiency, and 16 percent exhibited near-deficiency. Remarkably, low serum B12 was as common in younger participants as in the elderly.” ~ Could It be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses by Pacholok and StuartIn August 2000, the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism reported the results of the B12 study I conducted as Hallelujah Acres researcher. In this study, 49 participants who had followed The Hallelujah Diet for at least two years were evaluated with 49% showing elevated urine MMA (methylmalonic acid) indicative of B12 deficiency. Other studies suggest that over 80 percent of long-term vegans and 50 percent of long-term vegetarians without adequate B12 supplementation show evidence of deficiency.
“This crippler is a master of masquerade, striking different people in different ways. It afflicts one person with tremors, makes another depressed or psychotic, and causes agonizing leg and arm pains or paralysis in still another. It can mimic Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, early Parkinson’s disease, diabetic neuropathy, or chronic fatigue syndrome. It can make both men and women infertile, or cause developmental disabilities in their children. Other times, it lurks silently, stealthily increasing its victims’ risk of deadly diseases, ranging from strokes and heart attacks to cancer.” ~ Could It be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses by Pacholok and Stuart
Conditions Associated with B12 DeficiencyVarious body systems may manifest symptoms that are related to an underlying B12 deficiency. More often than not the deficiency goes undiagnosed due to the standard utilization of serum B12 levels as the primary diagnostic tool.
Neurological symptoms such as: numbness, tingling, and/or burning sensations in arms and/or legs; difficulty walking, falling, weakness, tremors and paralysis; confusion, forgetfulness, dementia, depression, and mental illness; incontinence, impotence, headaches, and vision loss may have an underlying B12 deficiency as a root cause.
Symptoms associated with disorders of the blood may include: fatigue, anemia, shortness of breath, enlarged spleen or liver and enlarged red blood cells (macrocytes). When the immune system is impacted, one may be at increased risk of infection, poor wound healing and increased cancer risk. If the cardiovascular system is impacted, one might experience heart attack, blood clots, stroke or coronary artery disease. Impotence and infertility may also be related to B12 deficiency. With the broad array of body systems that rely on B12, one can readily see how important it is to properly evaluate and maintain the body’s B12 levels when symptoms of ill health manifest.
NEXT WEEK: B12 Deficiency: Reality Check (Part 2) - find out why blood tests for B12 are not accurate, how to really test your B12, and how to overcome a deficiency.