Vitamin B12: Food for Thought
A. Eggs, meat, dairy and fish.
It follows that, unless vegans and strict vegetarians take a B12 supplement, they are getting insufficient amounts of the vitamin. Is that important?
Vitamin B12 is a significant contributor to the conversion of food to energy, and when the vitamin is deficient, weight gain can occur.
Celeste de Jager
The vitamin is crucial to prevention, or at least slowing, of mental decline because of its role in the health of the brain and nervous system. A study by neuropsychologist Celeste de Jager at Oxford University showed that a combination of vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid reduced shrinkage in the brains of 270 participants over age 70 by 30 percent over a two-year period. And if they had high levels of homocysteine in their blood, the shrinkage reduction was 50 percent.
Be well with B twelve
The salutary effects of vitamin B12 are especially important as more and more baby boomers enter their senior years and become increasingly prone to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a phenomenon with huge social consequences.
Dr. Marc Marcozzi
Dr. Marc Marcozzi, an alternative medical doctor with a Ph.D. and former executive at the National Institutes of Health, told a story about an aging man who experienced dizziness, fatigue, depression, imbalance when standing, and finally, numbness in his feet when he stood. Doctors were perplexed by his symptoms of neuropathy, but tests ultimately showed he had nothing more than a deficiency of vitamin B12. They treated him with injections of the vitamin, and presto, neuropathy gone.
While diet is important in the consumption of vitamin B12, the absorption of which is aided by stomach acids, its effect is limited by drugs that reduce these acids: Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Tagamet, Pepcid and others. Even in the absence of these drugs, the best absorption of B12 is through intravenous injections. But those are impractical on a continuing basis, and supplements help. Opponents of animal products especially need them.
The alpha and the omnivore
Many vegans and vegetarians are against the eating of animal products out of concern for the animals. That is commendable, particularly because of the inhumane ways in which agricultural animals are raised these days. However, opposition to such treatment has led increasingly to the return of free-roaming environments for chickens, and to the raising of livestock in less-than-cramped quarters. What these idealists are ignoring, or failing to realize, is that humans are naturally omnivorous creatures – carnivorous as well as herbivorous. From the beginnings of mankind, our bodies have been adapted to consume both animal and plant food.
It may be unhealthy to tilt at windmills designed by nature.