Well hello! I’m back! And I’m here to talk a bit about B12. You see, the thing about B12 is that it’s super important to our function as intelligent, charming, productive individuals. It is necessary for red blood cell formation, neurological function and DNA synthesis. The vitamin is water soluble and is bound to the protein found in animal food products like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. There are several fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast products that are vegetarian and contain B12.
A few weeks ago, I started feeling extremely lethargic and as if I had taken way too many decongestants. You know that feeling? Like your head is floating above your body like a balloon? I would arrive home from work and struggle to stay awake later than 9pm. And when my alarm went off at a quarter to seven the next morning, it was a struggle to get out of bed. This is not normal for me and despite my awful track record of (not) going to the doctors (I’m not a good role model), I made an appointment to have some blood work done, fearing that my iron levels were low or that I may have a problem with my thyroid.
Well, it was neither an iron deficiency, nor a thyroid problem (anyone else a huge fan of using “neither/nor”?). It was my B12 levels. To my surprise, they were low. I say “to my surprise” because I generally am good at making sure that I’m getting the nutrients that I need. But, when I looked back over the past few months, I realized that I hadn’t been using nutritional yeast and I had stopped drinking cow’s milk in favor of soy or almond or coconut milk. I’m not sure if those two elements were the direct cause, but my doctor suggested that I take a daily B12 supplement. I can’t say enough about how much it has helped me to feel better. After only a few days of taking the supplement, I started feeling better and more awake. I’m not struggling to stay awake at night anymore and getting up in the morning is so much easier.
So take heed, vegetarians. B12 rocks.
Edited to add – in some serendipitous turn of events, The New York Times posted an article about B12 deficiencies in the elderly today. Definitely worth a read!