Back in the 1970s and 1980s regular injections of B12 were all the rage amongst health enthusiasts. Today, the practice has fallen out of popularity, but perhaps without good cause. As we, and our entire population, continues to age, the reality is that we all become less effective at absorbing and processing B12. It’s a big deal because B12 is an absolute necessity for a variety of vital bodily functions. Without B12, the body is at increased risk for anemia (the nutrient is essential to red blood cell production). Nervous system function can also be impaired through a B12 Deficiency as the production of myelin decreases (myelin works like the coating around electrical cords, without it, circuits short out, and messages don’t relay where they’re supposed to go). Most importantly, without B12 the body can’t recreate DNA. Without new DNA, cells can’t be replenished, and the signs of aging become more and more evident.
And why does it affect us more when we’re older? One key reason is changes to our digestive system. After the age of 30, our stomach acidity gets significantly lower, which means we aren’t as good at breaking B12 out of the foods we eat. As well, processed foods often remove B12 in absorbable forms, not intentionally, but as an acceptable side effect of making food more palatable. Lastly, the older we are, the more medications we take on a regular basis, and many of these can interfere with B12 absorption.
Aside from poor diet and processed foods there are a number of lifestyle factors that can attribute to a B12 deficiency like chronic alcoholism, eating a vegetarian diet and not correctly supplementing and weight loss surgeries that remove certain parts of the stomach or small intestine. The good news for any b12 defcient person is there are simple ways to build back the b12 levels in your body. To increase your B12 intake, you can try an injectable prescription or an over-the-counter supplement (sublingual varieties work best) or you can increase your consumption of lean animal protein. Seafood is a particularly good source, as are lean cuts of beef.