If, like many Americans, you’ve tried everything to boost your energy, but still feel drained, you may want to start looking for answers elsewhere. Low levels of vitamin B12, a vitamin that lies at the core of our body’s ability to make DNA for new cells, form healthy red blood cells, and turn the food we eat into energy to power our metabolism, is often overlooked. Recent studies suggest anywhere from 15-40% of Americans don’t have adequate levels of B12 for optimal health.
Why is a lack of B12 of such concern? In the short term, insufficient B12 levels can lead to deep fatigue, mood changes, and dementia-like qualities, preventing you from feeling your best and performing at your highest energy level. In the long term, an unchecked vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to permanent nerve damage, which is why it’s important to catch it early.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
Overall lack of energy
Unusual mood changes
Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Inflamed, red, cracked tongue
Who’s at Risk?
As American diets, medications and lifestyles have changed dramatically, the question is: what has been the impact on our B12? While you should talk with your doctor about your own personal history, here are some of the broad risk groups Dr. Oz, Dr. Katz and I discussed on the show:
If you’re taking certain medications. An essential step for vitamin B12 absorption occurs in the stomach, where your stomach acid plays a key role in unlocking B12 from your food to make it available to the body. If you’re taking medications that suppress gastric acid production, such as proton pump inhibitors for heartburn, you may be at higher risk for B12 deficiency. Regular consumption of aspirin is also associated with a higher risk of B12 deficiency (approximately 1 in 5 adults is taking aspirin every day or every other day), as is the diabetes drug Metformin.