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When I was still in school, my grandmother suddenly became unable to walk. She also inadvertently became the first person I ever helped via nutritional intervention. After asking tons of questions and delving into her clinical situation, I discovered that she had had a large portion of her stomach removed years before due to ulcers and therefore would be lacking in the intrinsic factor necessary to assimilate vitamin B12. She should have been receiving B12 injections since that time. I suspected a vitamin B12 deficiency was the root cause for all her problems and I was right! My uncle, an MD, was not really happy that I was the one to figure this!
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can be subtle yet impactful - and not getting enough can cause some serious issues. In her case, she became paralyzed due to lesions on her spine which with corrective neurosurgery were corrected. Her ability to walk was restored and her dementia and depression resolved quickly upon being given B12 supplementation.
All of this suffering could have been easily avoided!

Modern nutritional research offers much more information about which nutrients are required for optimal health than in years past. The general opinion of most health care providers has been that patients should eat a balanced diet in order to make sure their nutritional needs are being met. Until the past few decades this was good advice, but the nutrients contained in most foods sold in grocery stores has been depleted, due to the way they were grown and processed. This means the nutrients most important to the proper functioning of the human body are best ingested through supplementation. Those who have a deficiency of vitamin B12 may be experiencing some serious health problems that they are not even aware of.

Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Food products that come from animals are the only sources of the vitamin, so someone who follows a vegetarian or vegan diet would most likely need to supplement B12. It is also good to supplement if one has a diet that restricts the consumption of meat, dairy, eggs because of the relatively high levels of cholesterol and fat.

Health Problems Caused by a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Some of these health issues are easily mistaken as symptoms of other diseases, such as diabetes. Others may be confused with common aging problems.
Tingling and/or numbness in the extremeties
Memory loss and cognitive difficulties
Difficulty in walking, because of staggering or balance problems
Health care providers may not be able to identify these problems as a deficiency of Vitamin B12, so a blood test may be needed, in order to reach a correct diagnosis. There are a few other less common symptoms that indicate a deficiency of the vitamin.
Paranoia and hallucinations
Jaundiced skin
An inflamed and swollen tongue
Many people are not very well educated about their nutritional needs and the problems they may experience from various deficiencies. Most people have too much stress in their lives and struggle to find enough time in the day to get everything done. People often naturally think whatever fatigue or weakness they feel is the result of not enough time and rest, but symptoms could well be due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Although vegans and seniors are most at risk for nutritional deficiencies due to their dietary restrictions, a depressed appetite and medications, younger women also experience anemia due to monthly menstruation. The average person is often surprised at how much better they feel once they begin a regime of Vitamin B12 supplementation. It is important to note that not all B12 supplements are the same, so if adding the vitamin to a diet it would be wise to research all the options available. Common B12 supplements actually contain arsenic and should be avoided. It IS important to work with a nutritionally oriented doctor for this as B12 supplementation can mask other types of anemia. With the advent of sublingual supplements, it is usually not necessary to receive injections anymore. Visit my store for great products, prices and FREE shipping on each order!

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Taryn DeCicco, ND, LAc, LDN
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Author's Bio: 

Taryn DeCicco ND, LAc, LDN of Apple A Day Clinic in Arlington Heights, IL has been specializing in acne, skin, and digestive disorders for over 16 years.