THE SECRET TO FIXING BRAIN FOG & NOT FEELING TIRED
If you’re battling brain fog and struggling to concentrate at work, or simply feel flat-out exhausted, the chances are you’ll reach for a caffeine fix or sugary snack. But before you do, consider this: it could be time to reach for a lesser known, healthier pick-me-up.
Vitamin B12 is an often-overlooked vitamin which is essential to keep our brains sharp, our mood in check and our nervous system firing on all cylinders. It is also needed to form DNA and healthy red blood cells.
This month, doctors were alerted to the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency in people taking metformin, a widely used treatment for type 2 diabetes. The warning about metformin, contained in a drug safety update issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), could apply to about 850,000 people across the UK. However, it is not just those on metformin who should worry about their B12 levels. Millions of others are at risk too. Could you be one of them?
Your body doesn't make vitamin B12, so it’s important to get it from food sources such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you may not get enough B12 from your diet and even though some plant-based milks or grains may have been fortified with vitamin B12, vegan diets are often limited in this vitamin, putting you at risk of deficiency. Deficiency can cause myriad symptoms ranging from fatigue to paralysis (see below).
Older people are also more at risk of deficiency. When we get older, we are less able to absorb vitamin B12 effectively.
Other at-risk groups include those who have had abdominal or bowel surgery, and anyone who takes long-term antacid drugs for heartburn.
It’s worth speaking to your doctor if you’re concerned about the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet, or your body’s ability to absorb it.
SYMPTOMS OF B12 DEFICIENCY
Early symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency include tiredness, fatigue and mood changes.
But if a vitamin B12 deficiency is left unchecked, you could develop megaloblastic anaemia, a condition in which the bone marrow produces abnormally large red blood cells. The abnormal cells are so large they often can’t get out of your bone marrow to move into your bloodstream to carry oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and back again.
A B12 deficiency can also affect fertility and in extreme cases it has been linked to nerve damage and cardiovascular disease.
BENEFITS OF VITAMIN B12
Vitamin B12 has multiple science-backed benefits from fighting fatigue and keeping our bodies’ nerve and blood cells healthy to producing DNA. It also helps with boosting energy, improving memory, helping prevent heart and eye disease, supporting bone, hair, skin and nail health and managing stress. Read more here.
GETTING AN ADEQUATE INTAKE OF B12
The NHS recommends that adults aged 19 to 64 need about 1.5 micrograms a day of vitamin B12. (A microgram, mcg, is one thousandth of a milligram, mg).
If you’re vegan, or just prefer to eat less meat and dairy, there are still plenty of ways you can bolster your vitamin B12.
Some breakfast cereals and plant milks, like almond and soya, are often fortified with B12 and love it or hate it, Marmite is also high in vitamin B12.
Although it is possible to get enough vitamin B12 through diet alone, whether you’re plant-based or not, supplements are also a great way to ensure you get the recommended daily amount.
Himmense SHIFT daily collagen drinks contain 100% of your NRV of Vitamin B12 as well as vitamins C, B5, B6, D3, Selenium plus the stress busting adaptogen Ashwagandha for multiple health benefits. You can shop HIMMENSE SHIFT here.
Daily diet and supplements aside, you’ll need a healthy gut and a good volume of stomach acid to efficiently absorb the nutrient. Aside from the diabetes drug metformin, which hinders absorption of vitamin B12 in the bowel, other medications like omeprazole, which depletes stomach acid and is widely used to treat indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux and stomach ulcers, can put you at risk of deficiency. If you are concerned, ask your doctor for a blood test – a GP will be able to organise the appropriate tests to determine if you are deficient.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Consult a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions or are taking any other medications before you try any remedies or supplements.
Published 28 July 2022
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