Tuesday, August 15, 2017

B12, vital for Health

We invite everyone to come to our next extra-delicious Pathfinder Produce market, this Thursday at the Pathfinder Village Commons, Edmeston, from 1 to 5 p.m. Our seasonal harvest is underway, which means that there are even more fresh treats for you to choose from.

We're nearing the end of our 20th annual Summer Concert Series … there’s only two more Saturday night performances left for the year! Last weekend's concert by Stone Soup was great; some of the members of that band will revisit us this coming weekend at the Pavilion (fingers crossed on the weather) as their alter-ego, rock band, Monkey and the Crowbar.  The Summer Concert Series is made possible with public funds from the Chenango Arts Council’s Decentralization Grants Program, a re-grant program of the NYS Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature.

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It's been a bit since I blogged on a specific vitamin, and I've heard snatches of stories on the radio about B12 deficiencies, especially among people of, ahem, a certain age. According to Wikipedia, which offers a detailed entry on this essential vitamin, Vitamin B12 is:

“… is a water-soluble vitamin that has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system via the synthesis of myelin, and the formation of red blood cells. It is one of eight B vitamins.  It is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.  No fungi, plants, or animals (including humans) are capable of producing vitamin B12.”

So we need it to function well, and we need to ingest it with our food, as we can't make it. A key element in the compound is cobalt. Cobalt is a mineral found in the earth that has been used historically to create that lovely blue smalt glass, or deep blue pigments for paint.

According to Good Housekeeping, B12 is found naturally in meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy, and is added to processed foods like fortified cereals.   So what happens if we don’t get enough B12 through our diets?  Prevention Magazine says that 4 of 100 women ages to 40 to 59 are deficient in B12, and the deficiency can be affected by not eating a strict vegetarian/vegan diet, and certain prescriptions.  If you suspect you are low in B12, talk to your doctor about your concerns.  Doctors may prescribe vitamin pills or shots if your levels are off.

Some symptoms of B12 deficiency may include: 
  • Fatigue and weak muscles, despite sleeping at night: This is because your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells (anemia), and therefore can’t transport sufficient oxygen to your cells.
  •  You experience numbness or “pins and needles:” Prevention indicates that low oxygen levels can lead to nerve damage.
  • Brain fog & Forgetfulness:  If you struggle with finding items or remembering names, a B12 deficiency might be affecting how your brain functions.  If medically diagnosed and treated, many patients report improvement.
  • Dizziness and balance issues:  According to Prevention, one Turkish study compared patients complaining of dizziness with a healthy sample.  They found that the patients had 40% less B12 than the comparison group.
  • Pale or yellow-tinged skin:  Red blood cells rely on B12 to remain healthy; if they breakdown due to a deficiency, it may cause jaundice.
  •  A tongue issues:  A severe B12 deficiency can kill off your tongue’s papillae and taste buds, resulting in a loss of taste, even with favorite foods.  This can then result in weight loss, due to the lack of pleasure in eating.
  • Moodiness, worries or paranoia:  Doctors suspect that B12 affects the synthesis of compounds like serotonin and dopamine, which affect emotions, depression, and anxiety levels.
  • Eye problems:  In severe cases, a lack of B12 can affect your optic nerve and blood flow to your retina, which can cause vision blurriness, light sensitivity, or vision loss.


Another good article on B12 deficiency is found at the Harvard Medical School website.

Until next time, eat well and be well,


Lori

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