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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Better Testing Needed for Critical Vitamin

Many people go to their doctor these days and ask about B12 shots. Most providers react with shock and grudgingly order a Serum B12 test because you must never give this important vitamin to any one who does not need it.  Usually this is faulty logic because the only true way to measure active B12 in the body is with an intracellular B12 level.

Now comes a great article looking at the way we currently look at B12 in mainstream medicine.  I guess a water soluble vitamin is really dangerous to their thinking.  But don't back off because B12 can really protect your health and that of your brain as you age.  Remember too that in the 40s and 50s it was common to give B12 and natural thyroid to people as they aged.  Then we had little dementia, comparatively speaking.

By Amanda Gardner, HealthDay News

MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) — Too little vitamin B-12 may be associated with smaller brain size and more problems with thinking skills as people age, new research suggests.
And the number of people who suffer from B-12 deficienciesmay be greater than thought because current methods for measuring levels of the vitamin may not be accurate, said Christine C. Tangney, lead author of the study published in the Sept. 27 issue of Neurology. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging.
The researchers assessed the study participants' vitamin levels not only from B-12 levels themselves, but from blood metabolites that are considered markers of B-12 activity (or lack of it) in the tissues.
But the findings aren't nearly enough to start recommending people take B-12 supplements to jumpstart their brains, cautioned Dr. Marc L. Gordon, chief of neurology of Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y. Gordon was not involved with the study.
"It's not clear exactly if you have a measurement like this whether it's causal or that lowering the marker will drive a change in the risk," he said.
And unless you're a strict vegan, most people do get enough B-12, which is critical for brain health, from their diet — mainly from animal-derived products, added Gordon, who is also anAlzheimer's researcher at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.
B-12 is critical for brain health but can become an issue as people get older because the body becomes less able to absorb it. Also, certain drugs can affect absorption. These include proton pump inhibitors, widely used to reduce stomach acid, and the hugely popular diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage).
The authors of the new study looked not only at B-12 levels but at five different blood markers for the vitamin that indicate "where B-12 is active in the tissues," said Tangney, who is associate professor in the department of clinical nutrition at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
These markers may actually be better indicators of how much B-12 is absorbed in the body than B-12 itself, she added.
In this study of 121 black and white seniors participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, volunteers had their blood drawn and tested for B-12 and related metabolites; they also took 17 tests to measure their memory and mental acuity (cognitive skills).
About 4.5 years later, the researchers measured the participants' brain volumes using MRI scans, and checked for other signs of brain damage. High levels of four of the five markers were linked with smaller brain volume and/or lower scores on cognitive tests, compared with people who had lower levels of the markers.
"This suggests that measuring B-12 levels in itself is not enough to tell if a person is deficient or not," Tangney said. "We need to be careful and think about other indicators."
If a person's B-12 levels are borderline normal, it might be reasonable to check other measures, said Gordon.
Tangney said the study results suggest that B-12 deficiencies contribute to brain atrophy (shrinkage), which in turn can contribute to cognitive problems. However, she also warned against making dietary changes or drawing too-firm conclusions from these findings, noting that they were based on data from only a small number of people.
Last Updated: 09/27/2011

Selections from Natural Health News

Jun 24, 2008
I am a proponent of B vitamins, and especially B12 for various health reasons. And I am a hold out for B12 shots even though in today's cookie cutter approach to health care it is almost taboo to even ask for B12 shots from your health ...

Sep 15, 2008
Dementia and Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency is well recognized as a cause of cognitive decline and dementia.4 Dementia due to vitamin B12 deficiency responds to vitamin B12 therapy, unless it has progressed to the ...
Oct 19, 2010
With his open-minded MD he was able to switch to B12 shots and natural thyroid support, reduce his costs, and greatly improve his anemia, and his health. Working as I do from time to time with people who experience serious ...
Dec 11, 2008
Even B12 shots were a regular occurrence and no one needed a blood test to decide if you could get them. Of course now the blood test used - really to get a billable charge and avoid acting outside standards of care - is ...

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