By Anne Laing –
Two of the many fascinating lectures we listened to over this 3-day event were delivered by Dr Damian Downing M.B.B.S., M.S.B. and Sally Pacholok*, R.N., B.S.N on the relationship between B12, Homocysteine (“H”) and ageing.
You may already be aware of the amino acid Homocysteine and it’s properties as a reliable risk marker, and also contributor, for many serious diseases in the body including cancer, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and more.
We now regularly check “H” scores with all our private clients via a quick blood test, as it’s also regarded as an accurate biomarker for stress levels – physical, environmental and emotional. (When was the last time you had your Homocysteine levels checked?)
One of the key nutrients linked with Homocysteine is vitamin B12 and, when B12 levels drop below optimal, “H” scores are regularly found to be elevated.
Vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, is the largest and most complex vitamin currently known to man, and is instrumental in the function of all our body systems, especially vision, brain and nerve function. However a large majority of the population is seriously deficient in this vital nutritional element!
A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to anaemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system.
Vitamin B12 is manufactured by bacteria, and can only be found naturally in animal products. However, synthetic forms are widely available and added to many foods, like cereals, to replace the natural vitamins stripped during processing.
Unfortunately many of these are not 100% bio-compatible with our human bodies, and are often manufactured cheaply from low-grade chemicals.
Vitamin B12 can be consumed in large doses because excess is excreted by the body or stored in the liver for use when supplies are scarce. Stores of B12 can last for up to a year.
Sub-optimal levels of B12 can be caused by poor diet or mal-absorption, and create symptoms such as tingling, dizziness, restless legs, forgetfulness, depression, fatigue, weakness, and even “Grumpy Old Man” syndrome!
Flouride has also been shown to depress B12 levels and, additionally, many of the symptoms of B12 deficiency can be masked or hidden by certain drugs and medications (including Metformin).
Because B12 is found mostly in animal (including fish) products, vegetarians and vegans are especially susceptible to B12 deficiencies, as are existing sufferers of auto-immune disorders and autistic behaviours.
Foods to boost B12 levels include all lean meats (red and white), fish (including crustaceans and shellfish) and eggs.
If Homocysteine levels are found to be elevated, even after addressing issues of stress, fitness and other lifestyle factors, the diet can be supplemented with a combination of B2, B6, B12, Folic Acid and Zinc, which will often bring “H” levels back into the normal range.
* [Read the full interview with Sally Pacholok, R.N., B.S.N, co-author of “Could It Be B12? – An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses”]