Natural Lessons of Vitamin B12

By Mark Lundegren

Sometimes little things can teach us a lot, if we remain attentive and curious.

A recent New York Times article by Jane Brody, It Could Be Old Age Or It Could Be Low B12, highlights that elderly people can be misdiagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, when they are instead exhibiting a similar pattern of symptoms owing to chronic vitamin B12 deficiency.

While a cause for concern, the important lessons from our potential for a deficit of vitamin B12 extend well beyond the care of ourselves and others in elderhood. Consider these three:

Lesson #1: Perhaps the most important practical lesson of our risk of a Vitamin B12 shortfall is the importance of ensuring a vitamin-rich daily diet and that we are able to make use of the vitamins we eat by ensuring our natural physiological health. Though many of us fail on one or both counts, we actually can do each of these things quite simply through Natural Eating, which ensures a robust vitamin intake and eliminates harmful foods from our diet that compromise our health, and by adequate Natural Exercise, which encourages our tissues and chemistry to make the most of a healthy natural diet.

Lesson #2: Another lesson of vitamin B12 shortfalls is that widespread symptoms of reduced general health may be due to a specific vitamin or nutritional deficiency, especially if we are infirm, sedentary, eat unnaturally, or are in poor general health. In the case of Vitamin B12, symptoms of a deficit can include fatigue, muscle weakness, an unsteady gait and shaky muscle movement, low blood pressure, depression and other mood disorders, and cognitive problems including poor memory. Considering the people you know, you likely can identify at least a few that exhibit one or more of these symptoms and thus may be suffering from a B12 gap. And these wide-ranging symptoms reflect a shortfall of just one of many essential human nutritional components!

Lesson #3: A third and far broader lesson from vitamin B12 science – especially from the standpoint of understanding our overall natural health and quality of life foundations – is that a hunter-gatherer diet is our natural diet (just as a hunter-gatherer life is our natural life). Our natural and usable sources of vitamin B12 make this point unmistakably. As Brody points out, “In its natural form, B12 is present in significant amounts only in animal foods, most prominently in liver. Good food sources include other red meats, turkey, fish and shellfish. Lesser amounts of the vitamin are present in dairy products, eggs and chicken.” She goes on to explain that various vegetable foods are poor candidates for either the intake or uptake this critical dietary vitamin in humans. This is no small point.

Lacking some amount of animal foods in our diet, or supplementation with synthetic Vitamin B12, even healthy people should expect a Vitamin B12 deficiency and at least some the symptoms listed above, regardless of what vegetable foods we are eating. This important aspect of our human physiology reminds us that we are not naturally vegan (just as our need for vitamin C-rich vegetable foods reminds us that we are not naturally carnivores either).

Before radical changes in human life over the last ten thousand years, humans in fact lived and evolved for millions of years in foraging bands on the plains of Africa. Ours was a communal and highly social life of nomadic hunting and gathering in groups of perhaps ten to fifty people. Today, we overlook or dismiss this underlying truth of our human condition at our peril – as respects nutrition and in many other domains of modern life.

Review Brody’s excellent summary of the science of Vitamin B12 in humans at It Could Be Old Age Or It Could Be Low B12. And explore how you can simply and enjoyably ensure this and all other foundations of your natural health and well-being  via the four health techniques of HumanaNatura’s comprehensive, science-based Natural Health System.

Photo courtesy of Red Snapper.


Mark Lundegren
 is the founder of HumanaNatura.

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  1. #1 by mlundegren on December 30, 2011 - 09:19

    For more info on the science of vitamin B12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12

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