11+ reasons you could be wrong!
Since I started eating healthier a couple of decades ago, I didn’t think that I needed supplements. I believed that vitamins were for those people who were not eating a healthy diet. However, I have discovered in the last couple of years that some people will need supplements, regardless of their diet. Today, I’m going to talk about vitamin B12, and next week, I’ll be talking about vitamin D.
During our family’s 14 years as vegetarians, I had repeatedly heard and read that vegans — those who consume no animals products, not even milk or eggs — will likely need to take a vitamin B12 supplement. However, because we were big fans of cheese and eggs, I always assumed that we would be fine. Since moving to the country in 2002 and starting to eat our own grassfed beef and lamb and pastured pork and chicken, I thought for sure that we would be in good shape with our vitamin B12 needs. So, when I had some routine blood work done last year, I was surprised to see that my B12 level was barely within the range considered normal by labs in this country. Although most US labs say that anything above 200 pg/ml is okay, Japan and some European countries believe that the results should be above 500 pg/ml.
That’s when I learned that there are a variety of factors that can cause B12 deficiency in those who eat a healthy diet with plenty of B12. You could be B12 deficient if any of the following applies to you:
- age — if you are over 50, your gut may simply not be absorbing B12 like it used to
- Crohn’s disease
- surgical removal of the small bowel
- weight loss surgery that removed part of the stomach
- bacterial overgrowth in the bowels
- some diabetes medication
- use of proton pump inhibitors or other acid-reducing medications
- intestinal parasites
- genetic predisposition
Wow! There are a lot of things that can interfere with B12 absorption! And B12 deficiency is nothing to play around with. It can cause anemia, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological problems, including dementia and depression.
So, what can you do? For years, people thought that if you weren’t absorbing B12 through your gut, that you needed to have B12 injections, but we now know that you can correct deficiency by taking large doses of oral supplements. That’s why most B12 supplements appear to have such crazy high levels. Because B12 is water soluble, your body easily excretes any excess through your urine. That’s the good news.
The great news is that there are even better supplements available now! Because the digestive tract can hinder the absorption of B12 so much, it makes sense to just leave the gut out of the equation. How can you do that? By using something that gets absorbed through the mucus membranes of your mouth, such as sublingual drops or a spray.
When I first found out about my deficiency, I read a recommendation that said to use sublingual drops for a week, then once a week to maintain. Sounded kind of crazy to think that the deficiency could be corrected so fast, but I tried it and had my blood level rechecked after one week, and sure enough, I was above 500! I’ve been using it once a week since then, and after 9 months, my level is still above 500, so I’m happy!
When I went to BlogHer 2014 in San Jose three months ago, the nice people from Garden of Life who make Kind Organic vitamin supplements were there with free samples. The two vitamins that I have a known problem with are B12 and vitamin D. Even though they didn’t have any at the conference, they agreed to send me some to try in exchange for an honest review… and I honestly love both! But this post is about the B12, so here are the things I love about it:
- It’s a concentrated spray. It’s easier to use than the drops because I had to tip my head back to put the drops under my tongue. You just spray the Kind Organics into your mouth, so it doesn’t bother my neck.
- The drops were not as concentrated, so the directions said you were supposed to hold them in your mouth for 30 seconds, which was awkward, especially if someone asked you a question! With Kind Organics, you just pump the spray bottle once, and you’re done.
- It can be stored at room temperature after opening. The drops had to be refrigerated.
- It’s organic and non-GMO verified!
- It’s vegan. Even though we eat our own meat, I don’t buy products that contain commercially raised meat products.
- Kind Organics uses “renewable energy, recycled packaging materials, vegetable inks, and forest friendly paper.”
Want to know where to buy it? Check out their website where they have a “Where to Buy” search box.