B12 – Are you getting enough?

WORDS ALYCE CIMINO | Lead Clinical Naturopath

The past few weeks we are seeing a trend in the clinic… we are seeing far too many women with suboptimal B12 levels in their pathology results!

B12 isn’t always routinely checked by GP’s (though it should be!) and yet it’s can affect our moods, energy levels, nervous system function and development, hormones, and fertility. B12 also supports how other minerals are absorbed and utalised, in particular with iron! B12 is an essential vitamin for pregnant women as you are also supporting how bubs nervous system is being developed, so it is one that we watch carefully in pregnancy as well.

Lower than optimal levels can be a sign that your digestion isn’t working as well as it could be, that you don’t currently have the digestive capacity to support its absorption or that your lifestyle (think alcohol) is affecting absorption or increasing excretion.  

Currently, the Australian pathology reference range for B12 is 135-650. So there is a huge disparity with those figures. Research is also suggesting that for optimal levels women should be sitting closer to 700! In an ideal situation, women should be checking their levels every 6 months.

B12 can be found in animal protein sources; usually alongside iron and zinc. Sources include seafood, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Plant foods do not naturally contain vitamin B12. However, it can be found in fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast; also known as savory yeast flakes.

Before everyone goes out and gets supplements, go find out what your levels are. From there you can work with your practitioner around the dosages and which supplement is right for you. Along with supplementation, you must have adequate B12 intake from your diet.

As B12 is a B Vitamin; it is ideal that you are taking it in conjunction with other B vitamins to support its absorption.

To test your B12 levels it is done via a blood test. While you are there you may also need to check your iron and full blood chemistry levels. These should be checked every year; especially in preconception and postpartum periods.

this information is general suggestions only, it is not intended as medical advice. speak to your health practitioners before changing your health routine or taking supplements.

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