‘Minimising Risk of Brain Damage’ by Dr Helena Popovic and published in Great Health Guide (August 2017). Did you know that deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to brain damage and other health problems? This vitamin along with some others cannot be produced by our body so it needs to be consumed in our food or supplements. With today’s lifestyle especially with varied diets, certain people may be at risk of being B12 deficient. In this fantastic article by Dr Helena Popovic, learn how you can detect B12 deficiency symptoms and ensure that you consume the necessary amount of vitamin B12 for proper brain and nervous system function.
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GREAT HEALTH: Minimising Risk of Brain Demage
written by Dr Helena Popovic
This title may seem alarming however the facts are indisputable. With today’s lifestyle, there is a very high risk for certain people becoming B12 deficient…and it’s easier than you could imagine. In the last issue of Great Health GuideTM , I discussed the groups of people who were at the highest risk of becoming B12 deficient..
Here is a list of the groups of people at risk.
consuming a purely vegan whole food diet
having gastric bypass surgery (e.g. for the treatment of obesity)
being over the age of 50
taking antacids to treat stomach ulcers, hiatus hernia or indigestion
suffering from alcohol dependency
Essentially, each of these factors contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency and if you said ‘yes’ to more than one of the above, you have a VERY HIGH risk of being B12 deficient.
How do I know if I’m vitamin B12 deficient?
Ask your doctor for a blood test. Tell your doctor if you are taking folate tablets because folate can mask the anaemia seen in B12 deficiency.
So, what if I’m vitamin B12 deficient?
You could end up with anaemia, dementia or irreversible brain and nerve damage. How?
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Vitamin B12 belongs to the B vitamin family. It has seven siblings: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B9. A vitamin is defined as a carbon-containing compound that is essential for life but which cannot be produced by the human body and must therefore be obtained through the diet.
B vitamins like to play together. In other words, they have many food sources in common and their functions in the body are often interrelated. B12 is the largest and most complex of all vitamins.
B vitamins are water-soluble which means if we consume too much of them, we excrete them in urine. If you’ve ever taken vitamin supplements and noticed that your urine is more yellowy-green than usual, you might be flushing money down the toilet – literally.
Vitamin B12 was named ‘cobalamin’ because it contains the element cobalt. It can occur in several different forms and the human body can convert one form into another after consumption.
B12 plays an essential role in proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, in formation of red blood cells and in metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Consequently, B12 deficiency can result in:
a particular type of anaemia known as ‘megaloblastic macrocytic anaemia’
irreversible brain and nerve damage – it can be reversed if diagnosed and treated early enough
Symptoms of B12 deficiency can include:
feeling weak, fatigued and breathless
memory problems, confusion and forget-fulness
headaches, dizziness or light headedness
mania and psychosis
reduced appetite and weight loss
numbness and tingling in hands and feet
How do I take B12 supplements if I need them?
B12 supplements come as tablets (often in multivitamin formulas which is fine), nasal gels and intramuscular injections. Ask your doctor to recommend the most appropriate form for you.
Author of this article:
Dr Helena Popovic is a medical doctor, leading authority on how to improve brain function, international speaker and best-selling author. Helena runs weight management retreats based on living not dieting, and is the author of the award-winning book ‘NeuroSlimming – let your brain change your body’. For more information, refer to Helena’s website.
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