Vegetarians and vegans are not the only ones who can develop a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Whether you're young or old; a Paleo, gluten-free, or raw foods enthusiast, you too can suffer from this. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, one in every 31 adults in the US, age 51 or older, is deficient in vitamin B12.
What is B12?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin required for many reactions in your body as well as for the health of your nerves, red blood cells, and DNA. Its most important role is as a methyl group donor, which is a crucial step in many of our main detoxification pathways.
B12 has many forms, and the most common are cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin (methyl-B12). Cyanocobalamin is commonly found in supplements and energy drinks. However, in order for our bodies to use it, cyanocobalamin must be converted into methylcobalamin.
To make matters more complicated, about 50% of the population is estimated to have at least one mutation at the MTHFR gene and 10% has two mutations, meaning they're less able to methylate B12 or convert cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin. (I personally have two gene mutations.) In fact, the more mutations one has at this gene, the less able one is to make this conversion, requiring supplementation with Methyl-B12, Folate, and B6.
Common Signs of B12 Deficiency: