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Vitamin B Response: Are you at risk of vitamin B deficiency?

 

  • The B vitamins which include niacin, thiamin, folate, B6 and B12 are important because they help the body to produce red blood cells, maintain a healthy nervous system and boost energy.
  • Those who have a B12 deficiency are at great risk for pernicious anemia, cancer and heart disease.
  • Most people can maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12 with the right diet. The best sources are from animal products such as eggs, dairy, meat, fish and seafood.
  • A study which was supported by the National Cancer Institute found that the gene FUT2 plays a role among women who have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Several other gene variants have also been linked to deficiency.
  • Genetic testing can help you determine whether you might be deficient and allow you to take preventative measures if you are.

Getting the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients is one of the keys to staying healthy. The B vitamins which include niacin, thiamin, folate, B6 and B12 are important because they help the body to produce red blood cells, maintain a healthy nervous system and boost energy. The B vitamins even help to form your genetic make-up.[i]

Deficiency in any of the B vitamins can mean trouble for your health. The B vitamin that people (women in particular) are most commonly deficient in is B12. In part, this is because the human body cannot produce its own B12, but must rely on food sources to obtain it. Another reason, however, is that some people have genetic variants which make it very difficult for them to digest and absorb B12. B12, which is also called cobalamin, is used by two enzymes (methionine synthase and L-methylamalonyl-CoA mutase) in your body which are important to nearly 100 biochemical reactions. Those who have a B12 deficiency are at great risk for pernicious anemia, cancer and heart disease.

SOURCES OF VITAMIN B12

Most people can maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12 with the right diet. The best sources are from animal products such as eggs, dairy, meat, fish and seafood. Those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet might consider taking supplements or consuming non-dairy beverages or soy meat substitutes which have been fortified with vitamin B12 in order to get the recommended amount.

GENETIC RESEARCH ON VITAMIN B DEFICIENCY

A study which was supported by the National Cancer Institute found that the gene FUT2 plays a role among women who have a vitamin B12 deficiency.[ii] Several other gene variants have also been linked to deficiency.[iii]

If one or both parent had pernicious anemia, there is a good chance that you may be genetically at risk for deficiency. Genetic testing can help you determine whether you might be deficient and allow you to take preventative measures if you are.

NON-GENETIC CAUSES OF VITAMIN B DEFICIENCY

Of course, because B vitamins come from diet, DNA is not to blame in all cases of deficiency. Other reasons why a person might be deficient in this vital nutrient include, eating a vegan diet, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal infection, side effects from medication and alcoholism.

SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE VITAMIN B DEFICIENT

While someone who is mildly deficient in vitamin B may not experience any symptoms, those with more severe cases might experience weakness or tiredness, pale skin, digestive issues such as gas, constipation or loss of appetite and mental issues such as memory loss and depression.[iv]

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

It is important to follow a diet that includes vitamin B, however if you are already deficient or have a genetic mutation that makes it difficult for you to absorb vitamin B12, you may have to take shots or supplements to get you back on track.[v]

If you do take supplements, be sure to let your doctor know as there could be a possibility of interaction with other medications you might be taking.

 


[i] https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/B-Vitamins.aspx

[ii] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080908135942.htm

[iii] https://woman.thenest.com/b12-deficiencies-inherited-2697.html

[iv] https://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes#2

[v] https://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes#2