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Beware of Low B12: Vitamin Deficiency Could Affect Heart Health

A recent study found that a vitamin B12 deficiency could affect risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin B12 does a lot of work for your body, notably making your DNA and red blood cells. It also plays an important role in maintaining energy and endurance levels. However, your body doesn’t store B12 for long periods requiring the consumption of animal-based foods or supplements.

The aforementioned study found a relationship between vitamin B12 levels and lipid profiles (a panel of blood tests that screens for abnormalities in lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides). Essentially, low levels of vitamin B12 were associated with higher levels of cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Why The Study’s So Important

Liz Weinandy, R.D., a staff dietician not involved in the study, noted that “lower B12 levels may be related to higher levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood, which is seen as a marker for early development of heart disease, since it can damage arteries and veins—including ones around the heart.”

How Much Vitamin B12 Is Enough

For people who eat animal products, they are likely meeting the recommended daily allowance of 2.4 micrograms per day. However, people on vegan or vegetarian diets (or those with GI diseases or on certain medications) may not be getting enough. If you eat a plant-based diet, don’t run out to get a supplement without checking your vitamin levels with a doctor first. Meanwhile, consider adding nutritional yeast to your diet to get more B12.

Source: Bicycling Magazine

Dr. Sonja Stilp is a physician and founder of RISE practicing in Boulder, CO. She provides personalized care and global healing for the athlete in all of us. Make an appointment with her to talk about B12 supplementation. Sonja enjoys walking, hiking, running, and of course, eating a well-rounded diet. 

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