As soon as the possibility of a vitamin B12 deficiency became apparent, I started on over-the-counter supplements from the pharmacy. But by the time the blood test had been done, my B12 was only whisker inside the low end of the “normal” range. However, the doctor’s response is, ‘You’re OK’.
I disagreed. There’s a fair bit of evidence that the lab ranges are too wide. There’s a school of thought that says a lot of people over fifty – like me, by a good few years – are B12 deficient. And of course, they are included in the normal range, as are vegetarians who tend to have insufficient B12, so the low end of the normal range is very likely to be too low.
And apparently B12 supplement doesn’t help a large proportion of sufferers since their problem lies in the rather tortuous path that B12 takes on its way to where it’s useful. (Don’t talk to me about “intelligent design”! If we lifeforms were “designed” it was by an incompetent idiot.)
Apparently our gastro-intestinal bugs are partial to a bit of B12 as well and will remove all of it from our food unless our system does something about it. So there’s an ‘intrisic factor’ that we attach to the B12 to get it past the bugs. And some of us older folk (and a few younger ones as well) are no longer pulling off the intrinsic factor trick. So it doesn’t matter how much is in your food or your supplements, it won’t be doing you any good. The only way is intramuscular injection of B12 or at least, a synthetic form of B12. (Just as haemoglobin carries an iron atom we need, B12 carries a rather exotic cobalt atom that we need!)
And another odd thing about B12: it’s one of the few vitamins that are stored. So if you’re suffering a deficiency, the intake or factor problems could have begun many months ago. So the usual thing is to get weekly injections for a month and then to move on to quarterly injections.
Anyway, the doctor has agreed and off we go. First injection tomorrow.
- Time For Some Histrionics