Vitamin B12 is needed to produce DNA and cellular components of all cells in the body. Deficiency can be caused by poor digestion, alcohol consumption, disorders of the immune system, vegetarian diet and more. It can be hard to diagnose a vitamin B-12 deficiency although some symptoms may include depression, fatigue, poor memory, numbness or tingling, digestive complaints and more. You may be thinking a clinical test could help determine if someone is deficient or not, right? Wrong, a vitamin B-12 deficiency is unrelated to vitamin b-12 concentrations found in standard tests. Now what? Read Dr. Mercola’s comments about the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s Study on Screening for Vitamin B-12 Deficiency below.
This is an excellent study that provides one of the most current assessments on how to scientifically document vitamin B-12 deficiency.
This is the approach you could use if you were compelled to know for certain that there was a B-12 defiency. However, if you look at the big picture it would seem more than reasonable to give a therapeutic trial of B-12 and see if the symptoms improve.
This is more than reasonable considering that B-12 is virtually non-toxic and very inexpensive. This approach would likely cost less than 90 percent of the cost of the test, and even if one did the test, it is common to challenge the results with this type of therapeutic trial as discussed in the article.
So what type of B-12 can you use?
As I said in the past:
It is important to know that most oral vitamin B-12 supplements do not work well at all. Vitamin B-12 is the largest known vitamin; it is a very large molecule, and it is not easily absorbed. Your body has developed a very sophisticated system to absorb B-12, which involves the production of intrinsic factor in the stomach that attaches to the B-12 and allows it to be absorbed in the end of the small intestine.
If your stomach lining is damaged from an ulcer or a Helicobacter infection, you will not produce intrinsic factor very well, and you will not be able to absorb B-12 very well, if at all. An imbalance of bacteria in the small intestine can also produce impaired absorption, as would removal of a portion of the small intestine (commonly done in Crohn’s disease).
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is quite common in vegetarians and vegans who do not supplement with B-12 or use fortified foods, since B-12 is not readily available, if available at all, in plants. If you are a vegetarian who eats eggs or fish, the risk for B-12 deficiency is considerably reduced, though you should still consider B-12 supplementation. If you are a vegan avoiding all animal products, and you do not already supplement with B-12 (it seems many already do), you should seriously consider it.
So, if you suspect you are deficient in vitamin B-12, I would encourage you to obtain your B-12 in a more absorbable form. The common recommendation is to use injections. My recommendation for that would be to use 1 ml once a day for two weeks and then three times a week until the 30-ml bottle is finished.
Dr. Della Parker, a Portland naturopathic doctor, can administer vitamin B12 injections. Many people try to replace B12 via oral supplementation. Unfortunately the digestive process renders much of ingested B12 useless to the body. This is why a more appropriate means of replacement is an intramuscular injection. Learn more about Vitamin B12 Injections.