Archive for the ‘vitamins’ Category

What Does Intrinsic Factor Have to Do With B12?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

When we talk about B12, we need to discuss “intrinsic factor.”

Several causes may lead to a B12 deficiency, but the usual reason one develops pernicious anemia is the inability to absorb the vitamin. The natural means of obtaining vitamin B12 is by way of the foods we eat, but B12 is not found in plants. You must eat protein foods such as liver, whole milk, eggs, oysters, pork or chicken, and its complex structure makes it much more difficult to absorb in comparison to other nutrients. In addition, the stomach secretes a substance known as “intrinsic factor” which binds to the B12 allowing it to be absorbed through the intestinal walls.


 An absence of vitamin B12 in the diet is seldom the cause of a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is much more common to find deficiencies in individuals who fail to absorb the vitamin from the intestine. This failure to absorb the vitamin results in pernicious anemia. The gastric parietal cells are responsible for the synthesis of a glycoprotein (a combination of carbohydrate and protein), called the “intrinsic factor”. When these cells are destroyed, the intrinsic factor is no longer produced and absorption of vitamin B12 is no longer possible.  Furthermore, as we reach the age of 50 and beyond, the stomach begins to produce less hydrochloric acid as well as less “intrinsic factor.” This is the condition that causes the elderly to have the inability to completely break down the protein in their diet, thus they are unable to free the protein-bound B12. This in turn creates the B12 deficiency.


 If an individual is missing or under producing “intrinsic factor,” it is not possible to absorb B12 regardless of how much one eats. The availability of “intrinsic factor” can also be affected by any type of stomach surgery, iron deficiency, pregnancy, aging, and intestinal disorders (like Crohn’s disease). Because of all these factors, many more people than generally recognized suffer from some level of B12 deficiency. 


 The “good news” to this is that when taking a sublingual B12 supplement, it does not matter whether or not you have any “intrinsic factor”, or even Crohn’s disease for that matter. The B12 will be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, thus by-passing any dependency on stomach hydrochloric acid or the production of the “intrinsic factor”.


 Next time, we’ll discuss how devastating a B12 deficiency can be.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency And Why Sublingual B12 Is So Important

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I’m sometimes asked if vitamin B12 is really that important and if there is any difference between sublingual B12 and a regular B12 supplement. So, in the next few posts, we’ll look into these questions.


Not too long ago in the United States, a diagnosis of pernicious anemia was like a death sentence. Now, picture this, the first therapy for pernicious anemia was the eating of repulsive amounts of raw liver! Patients had to eat a half pound or more per day just to continue living. The thought of that makes me gag!  Fortunately, that is no longer required because in 1947 vitamin B12 was isolated from liver and found to be the factor that alleviated pernicious anemia.


The discovery of vitamin B12 led to the knowledge of both the cause of and the cure for pernicious anemia. This form of anemia develops due to a shortage or lack of B12 in the body. It will cause damage to both the blood-forming process and the nervous system.  As a result of the B12 deficiency, the bone marrow produces abnormally large red blood cells. The life span of these affected blood cells is only one-half that of normal cells.


 The bone marrow turns red and jelly-like. This results in a decrease of both the red and white blood cell count. The normal count for red blood cells is 5,000,000.  One suffering from pernicious anemia may experience a red blood cell count of only 1,000.  The white blood cell count may fall to 3,000 as compared to a normal range of 5,000 to 10,000.  Blood cells suffer from both arrested development and rapid destruction. These two factors prevent many blood cells from ever reaching the bloodstream.  Harm to the nervous system can range from a tingling sensation in the fingers to permanent impairment to the nerves; 40 to 95 percent of pernicious anemia victims suffer some degree of neurological damage.


Next time, we will look into “intrinsic factor”, another significant factor involved with B12 anemia.

Eating For The Sake of Energy

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

So, you feel too tired to do much more than read this article; there’s no need to feel alone. Doctors tell us that up 85% of their patients who visit for any reason also complain of being chronically tired. It seems that we are in the middle of an energy crisis that has nothing to do with motor fuel!

When we talk about energy we are talking about the feeling of being energetic, not about survival. We want to have the energy to dream and then have the energy to live those dreams. We want to feel our best every day. Is that possible?

Energy comes from the way your body burns nutrients such as fats, protein and carbohydrates. These nutrients must be metabolized to produce any energy. Proper metabolism requires a balanced intake of these nutrients.

A balanced diet must include:

  • 7 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables (for adults)
  • 30+ grams of high quality protein
  • 20 to 35 grams of fiber

Sugars from the foods you eat provide ready energy, but it doesn’t last very long. Proteins are converted to energy at a much slower pace and provide a more stable supply of energy - five times more than sugar.

However, fat is the recognized champion when it comes to providing energy, and it provides us with stamina. Fat burns slowly and steadily up to eight times longer than sugar.  So for stamina that lasts all day and into the evening hours, you want to select foods high in “good” fats.

Many experts suggest getting as much as 30% of your total calories per day from fat. This may mean more than 70 grams of fat for a 2,200 calorie per day diet. That’s a lot of fat! But, I didn’t say French fries! You see, all foods contain fat. So, select “good” fats from foods that are known for high energy, such as:

  1. Nuts
  2. Seeds
  3. Olives
  4. Avocados (guacamole)
  5. Fatty fish

All foods (including vegetables and legumes) contain some fat.

Fuel your metabolism by eating high-energy foods, and include at least 30 minutes of exercising most days of the week.  Start with a healthy breakfast and, above all, be crystal-clear about your reasons for wanting more energy. Follow these simple steps to feel your best every day!

Take Charge of Your Health

  • Include these good fats in your diet:
    • Mono- and poly-unsaturated oils (e.g. olive and sesame)
    • Nuts - be sure they are not rancid (spoiled)
    • Fish - salmon, halibut, tuna and other cold-water fish
    • Olives - a whole-food source of olive oil and Vitamin E
    • Avocado - nutritious and filled with antioxidants
  • Avoid the bad fats:
    • Trans fats
    • Hydrogenated fats
    • Saturated fats: a little is OK but never over 20% DV (Daily Value)
  • Take your supplements:

Is Your Diet Nutrient Rich?

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Our bodies make millions of new cells every day: heart cells, brain cells, bone and blood cells. Every time a cell dies it should be replaced. If you do not have the right amount of nutrients to construct a new cell you will either make an incomplete cell or none at all. The outcome is bad in either case, so we really need to keep all nutrients on board at all times. This is why we suggest a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. This helps ensure we stay on top of our nutrient reserve.

The word supplement means to add more – to make up for a deficiency. Vitamin and mineral supplements should be taken in addition to a healthy diet. They make up for the deficiency we face due to the poor nutrient density in our foods. Supplements also help make up the difference when our diet is less than perfect.

The simplest way to help support your nutrition is to take a general multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that provides a broad range of nutrients at standard nutritional levels. However, please remember the following points:

  1. Some supplements contain very high doses of certain nutrients. When you take nutrients in extremely high doses, you are no longer in the world of nutritional supplementation and have passed into the riskier world of “megadose” treatment.
  2. Calcium and magnesium are very bulky minerals, and few multi-vitamin/mineral supplements provide the daily requirement. These minerals generally must be taken in the form of additional pills. Note: It isn’t possible for your body to absorb a day’s worth of calcium in a single dose. At least two doses are necessary.

Common nutritional deficiencies:

Calcium Helps with bone density, muscle contraction and digestion
Chromium Helps with blood sugar control
Magnesium Helps protect against high blood pressure, kidney stones and migraine headaches
Vitamin C Helps with detoxification, immune system health and connective tissue
Vitamin D Involved in bone and skin health and helps protect against diabetes and obesity
Zinc Helps protect against acne, ADD/ADHD, the common cold and macular degeneration

Very few of us are so deficient in these nutrients as to show symptoms of obvious malnutrition. However, subtle deficiencies may increase the risk for a variety of conditions. For example, insufficient intake of calcium and Vitamin D may increase your chances of developing osteoporosis, and inadequate folate and Vitamin B-6 may speed the development of heart disease.

Besides vitamins and minerals, intake of essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is often inadequate.

A plan for everyone
Finally, keep in mind that food contains many substances other than vitamins and minerals that may enhance your health.

Supplements won’t overcome bad dietary choices. We simply must commit ourselves to eating more fruits and vegetables. However, the reality of life is that we don’t always attend to our diet perfectly. So, appropriate nutrient supplementation can help make up for the deficiency we face because of poor nutrient density in our foods and an imperfect diet.


Take Charge of Your Health

  • Eat the appropriate amount of fruits/vegetables daily:
    • Children: 5 servings
    • Women: 7 servings
    • Men: 9 servings
  • Focus on organic whenever possible
  • Eat high quality protein daily (34 to 71 grams)
  • Eat Omega-3 fats every day (flax, walnuts & some fish)
  • Take a balanced multiple vitamin/mineral supplement
  • Take an EFA supplement like OmegaPrime
  • Take Vitamin B-12 every morning
  • Take Vitamin C every morning and at bedtime

Learn More…

You Can Beat the Winter Blues!

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

The winter months bring mood changes for some people. These people may seem sad because they have SAD, seasonal affective disorder. It is also referred to as seasonal depression which is often blamed on less exposure to sunlight during shorter colder days.

You may someone affected by SAD. The Psychiatric Association lists these symptoms:

  • Excessive sleeping, overeating and weight gain during the fall/winter months
  • Extreme fatigue or inability to keep up a normal schedule
  • Feelings of sadness, loss of feelings, apathy and irritability.

The last item is especially interesting to medical professionals who pursue the connections between mood troubles and B vitamins. Many studies indicate that people with a B-12 deficiency can experience symptoms including mood swings, mental confusion, forgetfulness and even psychotic behavior, like seeing and/or hearing things.

For some time it was believed that it was primarily older adults who tended to have Vitamin B-12 deficiencies, but we now have more studies that show this is a larger problem for younger people than previously thought. One study showed that people as young as 26 may be just as lacking in B-12 as some people over 65! This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, went on to say that regardless of age, those who didn’t supplement with Vitamin B-12 were twice as likely to be deficient as those who did.

At this time of year, I urge you to consider whether or not you’re getting enough Vitamin B-12. Since B-12 has such an impact on mental energy and mood, I often recommend B-12 supplementation with TriVita’s Sublingual Vitamin B-12.