VITAMIN B12, OLD AGE & VEGETARIANISM
Most people get their vitamin B12 from meat. Some people when they get older suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency because of malabsorption. Malabsorption is when the body has difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients in the intestinal tract. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can include memory loss, ringing in the ears, hearing disorders, palpitations of the heart and rapid heartbeat. Strict vegetarians can suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency from not eating meat and not knowing about vegetarian sources of vitamin B12. The body can store enough vitamin B12 that the body needs for five years. Someone who makes a decision to not eat meat at all, not even fish, and to not eat eggs or dairy as well may not get the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency until after five years of strict vegetarianism.
I first became aware of the causes and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency when my mother who suffered from irregular heart beat in her old age, memory loss and ringing in the ears and distorted hearing was given a vitamin B12 shot once a month from her doctor. For a short while after she received one of these shots her mind would become totally lucid and her memory would be fine. Upon learning about this I did some research on vitamin B12. I was reading about the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and I was amazed. All of my mother’s symptoms were right there in a natural healing book I used for reference at the natural food co-op that I shop at. When I thought about all that doctors had put my mother through out of ignorance including ear operations that did not help her at all I couldn’t help thinking about how unnecessary her suffering was.
Since then I have learned about vegetarian sources of vitamin B12. These include brewer’s yeast which is sometimes known as nutritional yeast. It has some vitamin B12 and lots of protein, essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), lots of different kinds of vitamins including rarer ones such as vitamin B12 and lots of minerals including rarer minerals. It’s no wonder it is called nutritional yeast. Vitamin B12 is, also, in hops. Vitamin B12 is, also, found in seaweed such as nori which people know most from nori wraps, the dark wrapping on California rolls served at sushi restaurants. Another seaweed that has Vitamin B12 is purple dulse. Some fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso contain Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 can only be produced by enzyme activity.
Vitamin B12 is important for cell growth. It is necessary for the body to produce a coating that protects nerve cells. Particularly the part of the nerve cells that are part of the synapses, the connections between the nerve cells where the electrical signals of the nerve cells pass from one nerve cell to other nerve cells. Brain cells are a type of nerve cells. When people are Vitamin B12 deficient this is what causes the memory loss and loss of lucid thinking. It is said that Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreparable damage to the nerve and brain cells but the experience with the Vitamin B12 shots tells me symptoms can be reversed very quickly. Vitamin B12 along with iron and iodine are important for the body to produce healthy red blood cells as well.
The body, also, need folic acid for healthy cell growth as well including the production of red and white blood cells. Folic acid can be found in leafy green vegetables, beans, peas and lentils, liver, beets, brussel sprouts, poultry, nutritional yeast, tuna, wheat germ, mushrooms, oranges, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, bananas, strawberries, and cantaloupes.