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B12 Deficiency

B12 Deficiency…. A must read for everyone

Vitamin B12 is one of the key supplements to help your body build healthy red blood cells as well as maintaining proper nervous system health.  Many of my patients suffer from B12 deficiency and most of the time, it can be easily avoided.  Here is a checklist to see if you are B12 deficient.

Vitamin B12 is also known as Cobalamin.  It is thusly named because it was discovered that it contains the mineral Cobalt.  Specifically, the forms of B12 that our body can use are in the form of Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin.  Vitamin has two basic functions in the body.  One fuction is to help with your body’s metabolic process and rate.  More specifically, B12 plays a vital role in the creation of healthy red blood cells and maintaining a healthy central nervous system.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it is recommended that healthy adults get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. Women who are pregnant need 2.6 micrograms and women who are breastfeeding, 2.8 micrograms. This is obviously due to the increasing needs of sustaining a baby’s nutritional needs during pregnancy and breast feeding.

What makes B12 different from other B vitamins is the fact that B12 can be stored in the body where other B vitamins have limited storage capacity in the body.  B12 is stored in the liver.  Deficiencies, therefore, can often take a long time to develop.  People taking dietary supplements don’t have to worry about taking too much, as no ill effects have been shown from excessive intake.

B12 can be found in a variety of food sources like meat, poultry, eggs, shellfish, milk, and other dairy products. Vegans, however, are at long-term risk of deficiency, but this can be prevented with appropriate supplementation. I recommend a B complex to most of my patients since there have never been any long term effects of over supplementing B12.

The interesting factor concerning B12 deficiency is that it most often occurs due to a separate health problem such as pernicious anemia (B9 deficiency).  The absorption of B12 is a multi-step process requiring two proteins.  One of the proteins is secreted by the salivary glands and the other is secreted in the stomach by means of pancreatic enzymes and a healthy gastrointestinal tract.  Any defect along the way increases the risk of B12 deficiency. One of the most common reasons I see in my practice is the chronic use of antacids that can change the pH of the stomach and alter B12 absorption. I have also seen Gastric bypass surgery have the same effect.

If you have B12 deficiency, some of the most common symptoms include anemia, fatigue, weakness, loss of balance, weight loss, depression, confusion, poor memory, and numbness and tingling in your arms and legs.  Although a lot of people share some of these symptoms at one point or another, it does not mean that you have a deficiency, but because these symptoms are so general that it is important to be proactive and get a yearly checkup or consult with your primary care physician for regular blood work to keep ahead of issues such as these.

Dr. Philip O’Brien is a Chiropractic Physician and owner of The OBrien Clinic.  The OBrien Clinic is the Lehigh Valley’s leading source for spinal pain and sports injuries.  For more information, visit his website at

"Incredible results in just a few sessions. Dr. Phil was able to assess my struggle and put a plan into action that has been extremely fruitful."

John from Easton, PA