B12 Deficiency–Common. Dangerous. Naturally Treatable.

Could you be B12 Deficient? It's very common. And it's serious. And it's treatable naturally. Come find out how.

{Today please welcome back Kristin from Nature Had It First.  Kristin is sharing some very important information about B12 levels–why they are important and how to get them where they should be–naturally.}

When one of our readers, Karie Kinney, told me about liver pills after reading about it on the web, I knew it was something that I needed to incorporate into my own routine.

Even after a very short period of time, Karie was noticing dramatic improvements.

After taking the liver pills for only 2 weeks, she was:

– no longer experiencing dizziness
– the cracks in the corners of her mouth had healed and
– her nails were getting strong again.
– When she had her period a month later she noticed even more profound changes.  See the end of this post for more…..

I ordered organic grass-fed liver that evening.

What’s So Important about B12?

1.  Metabolism. Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of virtually every cell in the human body. It is called the energy vitamin since it helps metabolize fat and protein and converts fatty acids into glucose.

2.  Essential for Cell Division -B12 is involved in cell replication which is how cells divide in your body.  No DNA replication–no new cells.

3.  Blood Health – It’s involved in formation of hemoglobin for red blood cells (RBC’s)

4.  Nerve Health – B12 is important in forming the myelin that surrounds nerve cells (affected in diseases like multiple sclerosis).

5.  Immune Health – Vitamin B12 also promotes normal immune function

6.  Prevents Disease -Additionally, vitamin B12 deficiency is implicated in numerous diseases including multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and many more.

Due to our monthly menses and high demand for vitamin B12 during pregnancy, women can be more at risk for developing a deficiency.

What’s So Great About Liver?

1.  Great source of B12 – Organic grass-fed liver is one of the highest dietary sources for vitamin B12 available.

2.  Rich in vitamins and nutrients.  Liver is also rich in other vitamins and nutrients that many of us are deficient in, including other B-vitamins, vitamin A*, zinc and iron (which is beneficial for iron-deficiency anemia caused by menstruation).

Problems with Vitamin B12 Levels in the U.S.

We are Probably Deficient

The levels used in the U.S. to determine a vitamin B12 deficiency are often much lower than levels used in other countries. The U.S. uses a level of 200 pg/mL to determine a deficiency. In many European countries they use a deficiency level of 500 pg/mL and that is the level at which they see degenerative mental changes such as:

– bipolar disorder
– mood swings
– dementia and
– Alzheimer’s.

One U.S. study looked at vitamin B12 levels in college students attending Tuft’s University and found that approximately 40% of the students tested were deficient in spite of the fact that they were eating a diet that included foods containing B12. Additionally, the study used a very low level to determine a deficiency 258 pg/mL. Even at that very low level, 40% of participants had a vitamin B12 deficiency (McBride, 2000).

Why are We B12 Deficient?

The reasons for the widespread deficiency found in this study are probably two-fold.

1.  First, our only dietary source of B12 comes from animal proteins. Vitamin B12 comes from soil and to have sufficient levels of B12, that animal had to be pasture-raised. Many of our animal proteins in the U.S. are raised on concrete and never have access to grass and soil.

2.  Second, vitamin B12 is a very difficult vitamin for the body to assimilate. To properly absorb vitamin B12 we need optimal digestive conditions, including adequate levels of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Without these conditions, we will not be able to absorb the vitamin B12 we ingest.

Get the Best Quality Liver Possible

Sourcing your liver is extremely important.

Make sure to use liver from an organic, pasture-raised and pasture-finished source. By using pasture-raised and finished liver, you are not only getting liver that will have higher B12 levels, but higher levels of omega-3’s and other nutrients.

Additionally, you will not be ingesting the large doses of antibiotics and steroids that are given to conventionally raised animals.

Two companies we like to get our grass-fed meat from are:

Good Earth Farms
Alder Spring Ranch

Liver Pills

You can make pills using fresh liver (which I think would be a slimy, time-consuming process), or you can dry the liver first.

The payoff of either method is that you have a rich source of vitamin B12 daily, without having to make liver every night for dinner :).

Here are step by step instructions showing how to make liver pills, but here are the Instructions in a Nutshell:

Of course, if you are squeemish about making liver pills, you can buy dessicated liver pills as well.

Always Eat With a Fermented Food–ALWAYS

As with any protein you consume, always make sure to eat a fermented food, such as a couple of forkfuls of raw fermented sauerkraut, along with it. So each time I take my liver pills (five in the morning and five in the evening), I take some organic raw sauerkraut or raw apple cider vinegar mixed with water along with them.

Fermented foods contain enzymes just like the digestive enzymes in our own pancreas that help us to break down and metabolize the foods we are eating. By eating a fermented food with your liver pills, you will help your body extract all the wonderful nutrition the liver has to offer.

Conclusion

So for many reasons, you should definitely think about including liver pills as part of your regimen. By incorporating this B12 rich food into your diet and pairing it with the digestive enzymes found in fermented foods, you can raise your B12 levels naturally and that can have a significant impact on your overall health.

Karie’s update:

A few days ago, Karie sent me this message, “I forgot to tell you when I was talking to you earlier. This last period (just getting over now) was the best period I think I have ever had in my life. I don’t know if it’s the bone broth, turmeric or the liver pills or a combo of everything but I am not changing a thing! Wow, very light and short!! So exciting:)”

*Pregnant women are told not to consume liver due to high vitamin A content.

References: McBride, J. 2000. B12 deficiency may be more widespread than thought. USDA Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved 4/3/11

{Please note – the above information is for entertainment and educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Please consult with your physician prior to changing your diet or exercise program.}

Are you thinking YOU will try Liver Pills?

Kristin Urdiales - contributing writerKristin Urdiales @ NatureHadItFirst is an author, blogger, speaker, and mother of two children. Kristin was only fourteen when her mother became ill with lupus in 1992. Having already begun to suffer from migraine headaches and extraordinary fatigue, she knew that she was most likely on the same path if she did not make some changes. It would not be until Kristin was in her early 30s that she and her mother would truly discover the things that would improve the health of her entire family. Learn more by visiting Kristin’s blog at Nature Had It First or connecting with Kristin on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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  1. Like another commenter mentioned, I am very curious about the statement that it isn’t recommended that pregnant women consume liver due to the high vitamin A content. I just read on another popular blog (holistic squid) that it’s a great idea! Do you have a resource? I was planning to take homemade liver pills…but now I’m worried. Isn’t it similar to getting A through pastured eggs, raw milk, etc? (which I also consume regularly.) Love your blog and appreciate all of your hard work to bring us information!

  2. The only time I’ve ever heard of liver pills was some saying associated with Jimmy Carter my parents used to say when I was a kid!

    I have trigeminal neuralgia in which the trigeminal nerve gets aggravated and causes great pain in my face. Considering that B12 is important in so many “nerve” conditions, I’m wondering if a deficiency may affect the TN?

    What is a good place to buy the desiccated liver pills?

    • Hi Nikki. I would check out Iherb in my sidebar. Or Vitacost. They both have links in my sidebar. You get money off if you go through my blog and use the codes I have specified there. you don’t need one w/ Vitacost but you do w/ Iherb. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for this important info! I’ve done some research on B12 as well but have never come across an answer/solution to my question/issue. I’ve tested low for B12 so my naturopath suggested supplementing my diet (whether with vitamin supplements and/or foods). The problem is every single B12 supplement I’ve ever taken (including my dessicated liver pills) creates wicked insomnia for me. (Folate does the same thing for me.) Even taking the tiniest amount only in the morning brings the same result. It’s like I just don’t get tired EVER (which sounds nice but isn’t). My doctor thinks I might have problems with methylation, however I can’t figure out how to bring my B12 up otherwise. I know you’re not a doctor, however I thought maybe in your research, you’ve come across something like this. My doctor is puzzled and keeps saying B12 is supposed to relax someone and help one sleep, not energize them. So at this time, I can’t take anything until we figure this out. Does anyone else out there have this problem?

    • Hi Crystal,

      It took us a long time to learn that deficiency and metabolism are not one in the same. Meaning that in many of us we are not only deficient in these nutrients but may have also lost the ability to metabolize them. For instance with B12 in order to properly absorb it, you need sufficient levels of digestive enzymes, HCl, intrinsic factor etc. Without these things you maybe eating a diet rich in B12 but you could still have a deficiency because you are not absorbing it. Your symptoms may suggest that not only are you deficient, but perhaps you aren’t metabolizing it correctly either.

      It might be best to focus first on restoring the enzymes that are responsible for the proper metabolism of vitamin B12 (like the enzymes contained in fermented foods). These enzymes are called “protease” and they originate in the “exocrine” pancreas. Without these enzymes, you will not be able to properly bind or transport the vitamin into your cells. Taking supplemental vitamin B12 that you can not properly metabolize may lead to unwanted side effects, such as those that you are experiencing.

      Hope that helps! Kristin

      • Sunny Murray says:

        Hi Kristin,
        Everything here refers to low levels of B12…what about high levels? My latest test showed 1,411 but didn’t even designate what measurement is used here. I take no B12 supplements, other than what is in my multi-vitamin. I recently started eating liver, making the pills, and trying to follow what you have been sharing about B12. Is it possible my levels measured high in the blood because the B12 is not being taken up in the cells?

        • Hi Sunny,

          Yes, it is possible that blood levels can be artificially elevated by taking supplements but that it is not being taken into the cells or crossing over into the cerebrospinal fluid-where a B12 deficiency can lead to subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord (National Institutes of Health, 2010). So it goes back to metabolism. To correct an underlying deficiency you also need to address your body’s ability to properly metabolize vitamin B12. Are you having any symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency or have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition or other disease?

  4. Kristin,

    Do you have a nutritional comparison between the homemade dried liver capsules and fresh liver? I have a really good method of making the fresh, but if there is no difference, I would rather store the dried form which I am assuming could be safely stored at room temp?

    Thanks,
    Dawn in Colorado Springs

  5. Dear Kristen,

    I am in the UK and have read your book with huge interest, as I have all the symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome as well as Interstitial Cystitis (though none of the blood markers, and hence no diagnosis.) It all made perfect scientific sense to me, and tied in completely with my experience of my various symptoms. The only problem was that when I re-checked the results of my B12 test that was done a while back, my levels were not low but extremely high…above normal range! I don’t recall that I was taking any supplementation at the time. I am going to ask my doctor to check it again in case it was an anomaly or a lab error. I know you say in the book that one can have a high serum level of B12 and yet have low cellular levels, but do you think it is possible to have SUCH high serum B12 and yet still have a cellular deficiency? I’d be really grateful for any knowledge you might be able to share! Thank you, Anna

  6. Susan F. says:

    Hi – I talked to Annesse once on the phone as she had contacted me through the Interstitial Cystitis Network and that was very kind of her. I have the Autoimmune Cause… and also the Fibromyalgia book on Kindle. I never went on the WAPF diet including all that sauerkraut (fear of the sour aggravating IC plus my difficulty in making it) which is basically what Annesse’s cure is I believe (really derived from the work of Weston A. Price and then Sally Fallon). I did however, try the Paleo Approach autoimmune protocol for a bit (no grains, dairy, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs) but without much change in my various symptoms ( I really do not think I am gluten intolerant but how can one really know, so much know is being attributed to that) so I am back thinking about Annesse’s connections of the different studies and about B12. I’ve found out that I am homozygous for MTHFR c677t gene which means I got 2 copies of a bad gene and I may have difficulty with methylation. Therefore my naturopath has me on Metabolic Maintenance which contains all the B’s including the methylated ones (b12 and folate). My b12 blood test then went up from low 400s to over 700s, but from what you are saying I may not actually be getting it into my cells. So if I could tolerate eating all that sauerkraut and liver, are you suggesting one could abandon taking a formula that contains all the B vitamins as I have mentioned? I just want to make sure and thank you so much. Also what about k2 and fish oil?

    • Hi Susan. I will email the author to see if she can respond. Thanks!

    • Hi Susan,

      Research confirms that patients with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disease lack the enzymes that are necessary for the proper metabolism of vitamin B12 – protease and DNase 1.

      The lack of these enzymes leads to a “cellular” vitamin B12 deficiency. Increasing “blood” levels of vitamin B12 though supplementation will not correct the underlying cellular deficiency. It may however greatly increase the risk of disease.

      Cancer cells put out extra receptors to vitamin B12 because it helps them divide. Drug companies know this and have actually designed new cancer therapies that involve using supplemental vitamin B12 to deliver cytotoxic agents to cancerous tumors. Here is one study that discusses this. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18540842

      The same is true of folate. Here is a study on this. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9741912

      As we discuss in our books, every nutrient works with at least 8 other nutrients in order to function properly and to prevent causing harm, so we think it is best to keep nutrients in their whole form. You can effectively and safely address the lack of vitamin B12 and the other nutrients you mentioned by focusing on healing your GI tract and restoring the missing enzymes.

      We are also posting some info on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Autoimmunethecauseandthecure

      Hope that helps answer your question, thanks!