B12 anemia MTHFR mutations and Thyroid Disease.
Hi! If you suffer with Confusion, brain fog, Depression, memory loss, anxiety, fatigue, Loss of balance, Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, Heart palpitations, Loss of appetite, Diarrhea, Constipation, or frequent bruising you might have something known as B12 deficiency or even pernicious Anemia.
I’m Dr Hagmeyer and today we are talking about one of the most common types of anemia people suffer with, I will also explain some of the causes behind this anemia and its connection to MTHFR mutation and finally some of the tests needed to uncover the cause of your B12 deficiency. Its one thing to be B12 deficient- it’s a total game changer once you find out what the cause of your B12 deficiency may be.
Lets first start off with the what and why of B12.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, and is a water-soluble vitamin its required for many reactions in your body. B12 along with other B vitamins help support your adrenal glands B12 is needed for neurotransmitter function, B12 plays an important role in memory, focus, and emotional stability. B12 is also critical for Heart health in that it can lower damaging Homocysteine levels in the blood vessels. You see in order for your body to convert damaging homocysteine levels into methionine methyl B12 is needed.
If that wasn’t enough, B12 is absolutely necessary to make red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body, and it also important for making DNA.
As you can see, B12 Is a critical vitamin and many people around the world have no idea that they have low B12 levels or subclinical low levels of B12.
B12 Has Several Different Forms You should Know About
B12 has many forms, the most common are Hydroxy cobalamin, cyano cobalamin and methyl cobalamin (methyl-B12).
Cyanocobalamin is a cheap laboratory made synthetic chemical. You wont find it in nature. Where you do find it is in medications, food companies by huge quantities of it to fortify and enrich food so that they can get away with saying that the food has B12. You will also see cyanocobalmin in your lower grade, big box supplements, energy drinks, and the B12 shots your doctor may have given you.
However, in order for our bodies to use it, cyanocobalamin must be converted into methylcobalamin. And that’s the version of B12 you really want to take if you have a B12 deficiency.
One of the major problems we are seeing today with people suffering from a variety of Chronic Health problems and some researchers estimate that 50% of the population have at least one mutation at the MTHFR gene and 10% of the population has two mutations.
What this means is that those with mutations you are less able to methylate B12 or convert cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin- this creates a big problems.
So what exactly causes B12 deficiency- it really comes down to three things?
1. You must eat plenty of foods that contain vitamin B12, such as (red meat) beef, lamb, poultry, shellfish eggs, crab, lobster, liver.
2. Your body must absorb enough vitamin B12.- To do this a special protein, called intrinsic factor is needed, you have to have good HCL production, you can’t be on Proton pump inhibitors.
3. You have to have proper methylation- this is where the MTHFR gene attaches a methyl group to B12.
Beyond that…………… Here are some possible causes of B12 deficiencies that you should be aware of.
1. Vegan and Vegetarian diets- a common myth among vegetarians and vegans is that’s it is possible to get b12 from plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewers yeast.
(Learn why Brewers Yeast can be so bad for people with Gluten Sensitivity)
Unfortunately, these plant foods contain B12 analogs called cobamides that can block the intake of true B12.
2. Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus, Graves, and Hashimotos Disease (these are Thyroid diseases)
3. Intestinal inflammation from Crohn’s or celiac disease-compromises absorption.
4. Infections such as H.Pylori or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
5. You can see it in leaky gut-
6. Excessive alcohol consumption
7. Low stomach acid from prolonged use of stomach acid-reducing drugs and Proton Pump inhibitors
8. Bariatric surgeries
9. Pernicious anemia- this another autoimmune disease where the immune system destroys the RBC and intrinsic factor leading to chronically low levels of B12
10. Parietal cell destruction- your parietal cells produce HCL and intrinsic factors. If your immune system destroys these cells, you don’t produce HCL and you don’t produce IF you cant absorb B12.
11. So what you will notice is that many cases of B12 have to do with autoimmune disease. And if this is the cause of your B12 deficiency- while taking B12 helps and it is critical, your focus needs to be on addressing the cause of why you immune system is destroying the tissues. And this is where you will want to work with a doctor who understands the complex nature of this.
Ok so we talked about the importance of B12- what it does, we talked about the symptoms of B12, we talked about the causes of deficiency, and now lets talk about some of the testing you need to have done if a B12 deficiency to uncover the cause of the deficiency.
How to test for B12 deficiency:
1. Most people will have their folate levels and B12 levels checked in the blood, and while these tests are helpful to some extent, they are only helpful if someone is really low or in the later 4th stage of B12 deficiency- unfortunately sometimes when B12 levels in the blood show that you are low- the damage caused by a deficiency is irreversible. So I don’t put a whole lot of trust in serum B12 test.
Tests that indicate a need for B12-
2. (CBC)- Complete Blood Count- This test, when it reveals the red blood cells to be very large, can indicate megaloblastic anemia, which is caused by a B12 and/or folate (B9) deficiency.
3. MTHFR genetic test- MTHFR is a gene and like all genes, it acts as a light switch – turning on or turning off various body processes. In this case, MTHFR takes folate (vitamin B9) and methylates (converts) it into methylfolate (5-methylTHF). The proper interaction of methylfolate (active B9) and Methyl-B12 is what drives your body’s ability to fuel every cell in your body with energy.
So while this video is specifically about B12 deficiency- I want you to understand that many of your B vitamins depend on other kinds of B vitamins to perform properly.
This test looks specifically at the two most common mutations the C677T and the 1298C.
I recently did a three part video series on MTHFR mutations that you can watch
4. Homocysteine test- this is a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. If you have heart disease or you have had a stroke or you have miscarriages this test along with MTHFR test may explain one of the reasons why you can’t get pregnant or why you have had a stroke or heart attack. If these tests come back positive- you will definitely want to start supplementing Methylated B12.
5. Methylmalonic acid test– this is a great test we use in the office- this test can show early signs of a B12 deficiency.
6. Intrinsic Factor blocking Antibodies- these are antibodies that can be tested to see if the cause of your B12 deficiency is due to an autoimmune disorder where your body is attacking the RBC and intrinsic factor.
7. Parietal cell antibodies– these are the cells that make HCL and intrinsic factor- if you test positive to antibodies against the parietal cells- your going to have B12 deficiency as well.
So there you go, I hope you found this video helpful, I hope its given you an appreciation for what causes a B12 deficiency and why its important to not stop at just uncovering the deficiency but much more importantly what’s causing the deficiency.
As you probably can see, Many B12 deficiencies are rooted in an autoimmune disorder. And sometimes the B12 deficiency might be the first sign or an early warning sign that you are dealing with autoimmune disease.
Until next time take care of your body- it’s the only one you have.