Health in Lake ChapalaYou complain about digestive disturbances and chronic fatigue. After your workout you are far from energized – you are even more tired. You feel like you are just not getting enough air, feel weak and experience numbness and tingling in your hands and feet. The worst part, however, is not being able to remember much of anything and you feel an ongoing anxiety – worrying about the least little thing. Often you even feel depressed, lethargic. You have ruled out all possible pathology as well as hidden food sensitivities which can mimic many diseases. Your doctor cannot find a thing wrong with you, is recommending anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, and has neglected to check for B12 deficiency, and even if they did check via a blood test often it is completely inaccurate.

According to an ongoing study (Framingham Offspring Study) researchers found that 39% of 3,000 volunteers had plasma B12 levels in the “low normal” range – which, for many people can be detrimental, yet often not treated, since ‘low normal’ is often considered ‘normal’! Hence, blood levels are not always the best way of determining whether one needs supplementation – listing symptoms might be a better way. Some other symptoms of B12 deficiency include: disorientation, irritability, urinary or fecal incontinence, impotence, abnormal gait, muscle aches, sore mouth and/or tongue, loss of appetite, personality changes, paranoia and quite often, dementia, especially in older individuals. So what would normally be a simple fix can turn into a very serious set of symptoms!

Addressing and correcting this deficiency can often help people resume full and normal lives. Why is B12 deficiency such a common problem for many seniors in particular? Sometimes as we age our absorption of nutrients becomes impaired. This could arise from several factors, one of these being an overgrowth of intestinal flora, or lack of intrinsic factor in the stomach. Another factor is not getting enough from the diet – often people fall into the ‘tea and toast’ syndrome which does not include foods that contain high amounts of B12 – pulses, eggs, dairy, fish, and meats. This is also why vegans have to be careful to supplement with B12.

The best way to supplement this important nutrient is with:

1. injectables
2. sublingual tablets
3. nasal gel and now some companies put out B12 patches that stick to skin rather than oral supplementation since many gastrointestinal tracts cannot absorb B12 properly.

Many Mexican doctors – just like a good naturopath up north – will try what is known as a loading dose. They inject 1 ml once a day for two weeks and then reduce to three times a week, and slowly reduce again until a comfortable dose is found, contrary to a more conventional approach which would entail only one shot every month – a bit of a joke! B12 is water soluble and does not stay in the body and as a result it is very difficult to overdose. In fact, a good friend of mine Dr. Zoltan Rona, a leading holistic physician in Canada says that one would have to fill an entire bathtub of B12 liquid and drink it before an overdose would occur!

One of the first signs of success is more energy and clearer thinking. And over time many of the other symptoms of deficiency begin to resolve. With this in mind, make sure you are also taking a high potency B complex along with your multi-vitamin, especially if you are prone to some of the symptoms listed above. And once you are topped up, full of energy, you’ll be back to feeling vital! Hope to see you in a gym, a fitness class of one sort or another or on the dance floor! And we have it all here at Lake Chapala. Get ready to boogie!

Judit is a local realtor and former owner of Change of Pace Fitness Center and is the author of the Canadian best-seller Free to Fly: a journey toward wellness. She is passionate about educating newcomers to Ajijic about the area and connecting people to their dream homes!