Is B12 deficiency messing up your hormones?
If you are suffering with hormonal issues, memory problems, brain fog, infertility and painful periods then you need to read this post. Learn the risks and signs of a B12 deficiency, so you can get on top of your health swiftly. With so many forms available today, some great and others not so, can be a confusing, overwhelming process that undoubtably leads to the wrong type of B12 causing more harm than good.
Vitamin b12 or Cobalamin has so many functions for optimal health these days, that I feel the need to share the benefits of this humble B vitamin. With all the craze for the need for folate, poor B12 which is the main guy needed to kick in the energy process is often forgotten.
What is B12 ?
B12 is part of the B complex vitamin group that helps form red blood cells, makes DNA and produces energy. So, if you are a woman with a menstrual cycle or yours is on holiday, then adequate B12 levels are needed to replenish the blood loss each month. If you are not getting your periods, then a lack of B12 along with iron may be a considering factor. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS, mood swings before your period, painful cramps, can be helped with B12 as it can dampen down pain and relax the nerves.
If you are looking at boosting your fertility, then read on to find the best forms. A study showed that low B12 and fluctuating oestrogen levels can interfere with implantation of fertilised egg and effect carrying the baby to full term. So, making sure B12 is at optimal level, 3 months prior to conception for the fertility goddesses.
What forms do I need?
B12 comes in many forms, some great, some may as well be thrown in the waste! The first form which can be found in cheap and nasty multivitamins and some B12 injections is cyanocobalamin. It is from cyanide, toxic, and synthetic, not active, and difficult for your body to absorb and break it down to the right form. Instead these other B12 varieties are superior with an added benefit to each one.
Hydroxycobalamin/Hydroxocobalamin - this is the natural form found in foods listed below. It has the longest effect in our blood stream, can be used for detox, stress and quitting smoking. A gentle option for people that are quite sensitive who find some other forms a little too stimulating. If you have exhaustion, moderate pain or are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromayalgia then this is a great option.
Methylcobalamin – An ideal choice as the body doesn’t need to break it down, it is already done. Think of nerves and brain function. Anyone with pins and needles, numbness, brain fog, poor memory, teary or depressed. People who have taken medication such as the oral contraceptive pill, antacids, people with poor digestion or vegans can opt for this choice. If you have a gene mutation MTRR or others then this is for you.
Adenosylcobalamin – This is the energy booster, and one of the active forms of B12 that our body craves in times of demands. It is popular in the USA and handy for people with gene mutations who can be essentially low in this vital nutrient.
Can I just eat B12 foods?
Sure you can, check out the list of foods rich in B12, just be sure to that you have some bullet proof digestion, not anaemic, haven’t been on the oral contraceptive pill/birth control lately, taken metformin (PCOS medication) or antacids, so that you are able to absorb B12 from these foods. Foods with B12 are red meat, dairy, oily fish, shellfish, beef liver, and tempeh. If you are vegan take a little planning to ensure you are getting your B12 levels up as most B12 can be found in meat. Luckily some vegan foods are now fortified with B12 including nutritional yeast, which is a yummy cheese replacement. Other vegan foods contain very slight levels are exotic mushrooms including porcini, oyster, dried shitake mushrooms. Nut milks such as almond milk can have added B12 however check that it isn’t the synthetic form cyanocobalamin, which originates from toxic cyanide.
What are some symptoms to look out for?
There are many signs and symptoms of low B12, check out some these below:
Pins and needles, pain, numbness.
Infertility/ Issues conceiving /No periods/anovulation
Irregular periods, Painful periods, PMS.
Gut Issues – reflux, bloating, low stomach acid, fullness feeling, food intolerances.
Weakness, tremors, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease
Early hair greying.
How do I know if I need B12?
You can take a blood test through your GP and aim for 800 pmol/l or over. The reference range in Australia is quite conservative, other countries such as Japan have a higher range between 500-1300pmol/l, in Australia it can be 125-700pmol/l. It is best to check red blood cell folate with B12 too as this can tell more of the story. If your levels come up within range and you still suspect a B12 deficiency, there is another test which assess your MMA methylmalonic acid in urine test that you can talk to your practitioner about.
Did you know B12 comes in a spray, where you easily spray on the inside of your cheek, or an other option is sublingual tablets. These forms are highly absorbable and can bypass the digestive system which is great if your digestion is not up to par. Check with your naturopath or practitioner to find out more.
As you can see B12 is used for many processes in the body, and having great levels of B12 can help balance your hormones, ensure you have a nicer cycle each month, and get you started on your fertility pathway. If you are interested in finding out more about your B12 levels consult Alysia Raftery who is a practicing Naturopath and Myotherapist with a passion for women’s hormonal balance. Ask her how she feels after her B12 spray, next time!!
Click here for more info or to book a naturopathic consultation.
Carmel R. Biomarkers of cobalamin (vitamin B-12) status in the epidemiologic setting: a critical overview of context, applications, and performance characteristics of cobalamin, methylmalonic acid, and holotranscobalamin II. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011; 94: 348S–58S.
Siddhi Lama, How does B12 affect the menstrual cycle?30 Dec 2018
David Rotter ttps://www.b12-vitamin.com/benefits/viewed 27/1/2019