Panic Attacks and Anxiety Linked to Low Vitamin B and Iron Levels

If you suffer from anxiety or develop occasional panic attacks marked by bouts of hyperventilation, you could merely be experiencing the side effects of an underlying nutrient deficiency that is easily correctable. This definitely appears to have been the case with 21 people who participated in a recent study based out of Japan, which identified a lack of both vitamin B6 and iron among participants who experienced panic or hyperventilation attacks.

The relatively small study evaluated nutrient levels among a group of participants with varying degrees of anxiety and frequencies of panic and hyperventilation attacks, some of which resulted in emergency room visits. A control group was also evaluated, and its participants’ nutrient levels compared to those of the primary group.

Upon evaluation, researchers noted that both vitamin B6 and iron were lacking in the subjects with anxiety and hyperventilation issues, while those in the healthy group had adequate levels of these important nutrients. B vitamins and iron are particularly important for the synthesis of tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates not only mood and mental stability, but also sleep and cardiovascular function.

“These results suggest that low serum concentrations of vitamin B6 and iron are involved in PA (panic attacks) and HVA (hyperventilation),” wrote the authors in their study conclusion. “Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms involved in such differences.”

You can read the full study, which was published in the Japanese journal Acta Medica Okayama, here:

Supplementing with whole food-based vitamins may promote better mental health

Though this particular study did not identify a link between general deficiencies of other B vitamins like B2 and B12 and high frequency or intensity of panic attacks, all B vitamins are important for healthy brain and bodily function. A deficiency in any B vitamins, in other words, can lead to mental health problems, which is why it is important to keep your levels in check.

“Chronic stress, poor diet, and certain medical conditions can deplete the body’s stores of vital nutrients,” explains one source about the important of B vitamins. “Many of those who suffer from agoraphobia (fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places) are deficient in certain B complex vitamins, and this may be the case for other anxiety-related conditions as well. Symptoms of vitamin B deficiency may include anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and emotional instability.”

If you are looking to supplement with B vitamins, be sure to purchase only whole food-based varieties like those produced by companies like MegaFood and Garden of Life. Whole food-based supplements of any kind are not only better absorbed by the body than their synthetic counterparts, but they are also healthier than standard, run of the mill vitamins and better capable of providing optimal therapeutic benefit.

“Vitamins are made up of several different components – enzymes, co-enzymes, and co-factors – that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects,” explains Dr. Ben Kim. “The majority of vitamins that are sold in pharmacies, grocery stores, and vitamin shops are synthetic vitamins, which are only isolated portions of the vitamins that occur naturally in food.”


We should never have told people to start taking vitamins.

It seems like simple, obvious advice: Eat your vegetables, get some exercise, and, of course, take your vitamins.

Or not.

Decades of research has failed to find substantial evidence that vitamins and supplements do any significant good.

Nevertheless, several shiny new pills and powders have materialized in recent years that promise to deliver health and wellness in ways no other vitamin has before.


One of them, called Ritual , arrives at your doorstep in a bright white and highlighter-yellow box. Inside, you’ll find a 1-month supply of pills. These aren’t your grandma’s vitamins. Each pill is a clear, glass-like capsule filled with a handful of tiny white beads that float suspended in oil.

Despite the fact that each pill is practically a work of art, Ritual’s pills don’t differ much from your standard vitamin. They contain less of some traditional vitamin ingredients that decades of research have shown we don’t need, but have similar amounts of magnesium, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin B12, iron, boron, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D as a standard Alive-brand vitamin.

Another one of these newly-designed vitamins is Care/of , whose personalized daily vitamin packets come in a box that looks like a tea-bag dispenser with the words “Hi [your name],” printed on the top right corner. Again, the ingredients don’t differ drastically from those in conventional vitamins.

No matter how colorful their packaging or personal their messaging, all of these vitamin formulations fall prey to the exact same problem: We simply do not need vitamins to be healthy. Instead, we should be getting the nutrients that vitamin-makers peddle from the foods we eat.

“We use vitamins as insurance policies against whatever else we might (or might not) be eating, as if by atoning for our other nutritional sins, vitamins can save us from ourselves,” writes science reporter Catherine Price in the book ” Vitamania.

Here’s the thing: They can’t.

Virtually any registered dietitian, doctor, public health expert , or physician will likely reiterate some version of the advice health professionals have been giving for decades. Eat real food. Eat fruits and veggies. Eat in moderation. Stay away from processed foods and sugary beverages when you can. Or, in the words of the well-known journalist and food writer Michael Pollan , “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

There’s another reason to stay away from most pills and powders: Some can be harmful. Several supplements have been linked with an increase in certain cancers , for example, while others have been associated with arisk of kidney stones .

In her book, Price suggests that this knowledge about vitamins might help us “rediscover something both surprising and empowering: that, while nutrition itself is amazingly complex, the healthiest, most scientific, and most pleasurable way to eat is not that complicated at all.”

Warning signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency that should never be ignored 



Vitamin B12 is needed to produce an adequate amount of healthy red blood cells in the bone marrow. Vitamin B12 is available only in animal foods (meat and dairy products) or yeast extracts (such as brewer’s yeast). Vitamin B12 deficiency is defined by low levels of stored B12 in the body that can result in anemia, a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells.

The importance of B12 in the human body is hard to overestimate.

 And while you hear things like how it’s important for your nerves, DNA and red blood cells among many other things, what does a lack of it actually do in more “every day” language?

To answer that, let’s take a look at a case study of what can happen when your levels get too low.

Warning Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Symptoms tend to develop slowly and may not be recognized immediately. As the condition worsens, common symptoms include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Light-headedness and dizziness
  • Palpitations and rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • A sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance
  • Nausea or poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes

If low levels of B12 remain for a long time, the condition also can lead to irreversible damage to nerve cells, which can cause the following symptoms:

  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Psychosis

Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency treatment depends on the cause.

If pernicious anemia or a problem with absorption is the cause, you’ll need to replace vitamin B12, usually by injection, or by prescription.

If the issue is that you don’t eat animal products, you can change your diet or take supplements.

For most people, treatment resolves the problem. But any nerve damage that happened due to the deficiency could be permanent.

Vitamin B12: The Most Important Nutrient You Aren’t Thinking About.

If you aren’t getting enough vitamin B12, it is indeed very important – and you may very well not be thinking about it. One reason you aren’t thinking about it is that we tend to fall in (and out!) of love with one nutrient at a time (such as vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene and so on), and vitamin B12 isn’t the nutrient du jour. But the other reason you may not be thinking about it is … because you can’t. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can limit your ability to think clearly about anything!


What is Vitamin B12 and why is it so essential?

Like all vitamins, B12 is an organic compound, made from carbons (as opposed to minerals, which are inorganic), and essential for our normal metabolic function and health. Also, like most vitamins, B12 plays a wide variety of roles in our metabolism. The short list of important effects B12 has on your health includes these:

  1. Vitamin B12 is essential for the manufacture of red blood cells; a deficiency leads to a characteristic kind of anemia
  2. Vitamin B12 is needed to support the normal function of nerve cells, and to manufacture myelin, the insulating material that surrounds some of our nerve cells and speeds neural transmission
  3. Vitamin B12 is required for the replication of DNA

Each of these effects is obviously quite important, but note the third one in particular. When B12 is deficient, our DNA cannot replicate normally – meaning we can’t generate new, healthy cells. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency can mimic all of the effects of aging.

Manifestations of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:

Common manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, numbness and tingling, fatigue, dizziness, swelling and irritation of the mouth and tongue, and irritability. Anemia can develop, as noted, but a high intake of folate can compensate for a deficiency of vitamin B12 and prevent anemia.

The most serious manifestation of B12 deficiency is impaired brain function, due to the effects of B12 on nerve cells. Advanced B12 deficiency causes dementia severe enough to resemble Alzheimer’s disease. Generally, though, the dementia caused by B12 deficiency is completely reversible with supplementation. While folate can prevent B12-deficient anemia, it cannot prevent the dementia – only B12 itself can do that job.

Difficulties with Vitamin B12 absorption:

Vitamin B12 is found in animal foods (and fortified cereals), so vegans are vulnerable to deficiency. But the most important cause of deficiency has to do with the unique way B12 is absorbed. To get into the bloodstream, B12 must be escorted by a protein called intrinsic factor, produced by cells of the stomach. Many disorders of the stomach, such as gastritis, particularly common after age 50, can interfere with the production of intrinsic factor. This condition is called pernicious anemia.

Medications that affect the stomach – such as aspirin, antacids and proton-pump inhibitors – can also interfere with intrinsic factor production and result in B12 deficiency. The commonly used diabetes medication, metformin (Glucophage), can do so as well.

Treatment options:

For garden-variety B12 deficiency, due to inadequate intake from food or supplements, oral supplementation suffices to fix the problem. But pernicious anemia cannot be treated with oral B12, because the lack of intrinsic factor will prevent absorption. The appropriate treatment is B12 injections your doctor must provide.

In some cases, genetic mutations can limit the ability to metabolize B12 as well, in which case you will need to get the active form, called methylcobalamin, instead of the more common cyanocobalamin.

Health-care professionals are, of course, taught to be on the lookout for B12 deficiency, particularly in patients over age 50 with suggestive signs or symptoms. But health care is at its best when both clinician and patient are on the ball! I encourage an empowered, assertive role for all patients.



There are a few important nutrients that are impossible to get from commonly consumed plant foods. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Humans evolved eating both plant foods and animal foods. By completely eliminating either, we risk becoming deficient in key nutrients.

This article lists 7 nutrients that you can not get from commonly consumed plant foods.

Vegetarians and vegans may need to supplement with some of them in order to maintain optimal health.

1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found in virtually no plant foods. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient involved in the development of red blood cells, maintenance of nerves and normal brain function.

Without supplements or enriched foods, vegetarians are at a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. It is mainly found in animal foods, such as fish, meat, dairy products and eggs.Lacto-ovo vegetarians can get adequate amounts of vitamin B12 from dairy products and eggs, but this is much more challenging for vegans. For this reason, vegans are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency than some vegetarians.

The signs, symptoms and risks associated with deficiency include:

  • Weakness, fatigue.
  • Impaired brain function.
  • A variety of neurological disorders.
  • Psychiatric disorders.
  • Neurological disorders in babies of breast-feeding mothers.
  • Megaloblastic anemia.
  • Possible links with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Possible links with heart disease.

Vegans must get vitamin B12 by taking supplements or eating enriched food or certain types of seaweed.

Many processed foods have been enriched with vitamin B12. These include enriched yeast extracts, soya products, breakfast cereals, bread and meat-substitutes.

In addition, a few plant foods naturally contain small amounts of bioactive vitamin B12. These include:

  • Nori seaweed, a type of marine algae (17, 18, 19, 20).
  • Tempeh, a fermented soy product (21, 22).

Nori seaweed is considered the most suitable source of biologically available vitamin B12 for vegan. Keep in mind that raw or freeze-dried nori may be better than conventionally dried. It seems that some of the vitamin B12 is destroyed in the drying process.

Another plant food often claimed to contain vitamin B12 is spirulina. However, spirulina contains so-called pseudovitamin B12, which is not biologically available. For this reason, it is not suitable as a source of vitamin B12.

Bottom Line: Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods and certain types of seaweed. Vegans can get vitamin B12 by taking supplements, eating enriched foods or eating nori seaweed.

2. Creatine

Creatine is a molecule found in animal foods. Most of it is stored in muscles, but significant amounts are also concentrated in the brain. It functions as an easily accessible energy reserve for muscle cells, giving them greater strength and endurance.  For this reason, it is one of the world’s most popular supplements for muscle building. Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can increase both muscle mass and strength.

Creatine is not essential in the diet, since it can be produced by the liver. However, vegetarians have lower amounts of creatine in their muscles. Placing people on a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet for 26 days causes a significant decrease in muscle creatine. Because creatine is not found in any plant foods, vegetarians and vegans can only get it from supplements.

In vegetarians, creatine supplementation may have significant benefits. These include:

  • Improvements in physical performance.
  • Improvements in brain function.

Many of these effects are stronger in vegetarians than meat eaters. For example, vegetarians taking creatine supplements may experience significant improvements in brain function while meat eaters see no difference.

Bottom Line: Creatine is a bioactive compound that is lacking in vegetarian diets. It plays an important role in brain and muscle function.

3. Carnosine

Carnosine is an antioxidant that is concentrated in the muscles and brain. It is very important for muscle function and high levels of carnosine in muscles are linked with reduced muscle fatigue and improved performance. Carnosine is only found in animal foods. However, it is non-essential since it can be formed in the body from the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine.

Dietary sources of beta-alanine, such as meat or fish, may also contribute significantly to muscle levels of carnosine.

Vegetarians have less carnosine in their muscles than meat eaters. Supplementation with beta-alanine increases the levels of carnosine in muscles, improving endurance and increasing muscle mass. Vegan beta-alanine supplements are available online.

Bottom Line: Carnosine is a nutrient only found in animal foods. It is important for muscle function. Beta-alanine supplements are effective at increasing the levels of carnosine in muscles.

4. Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that has many important functions. Deficiency in vitamin D is linked to increased risk of various adverse conditions. These include:

  • Osteoporosis, with increased risk of fractures in the elderly.
  • Cancer.
  • Heart disease.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Depression.
  • Impaired brain function).
  • Muscle wasting and reduced strength, especially in elderly people.

Osteoporosis (weak bones) and rickets (bone malformation) are the best known effects of vitamin D deficiency. Whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to the other conditions, or is just associated with them, is less clear.

Also called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D doesn’t have to come from the diet. It can be produced by our own skin when it is exposed to sunlight. However, when sunlight exposure is limited, we have to get it from food (or supplements).

There are two types of vitamin D in the diet, ergocalciferol (D2) found in plants and cholecalciferol (D3) found in animal foods. Of the two types of vitamin D, cholecalciferol (from animals) is much more potent than ergocalciferol. In other words, it increases blood levels of bioactive vitamin D much more efficiently.

The best sources of cholecalciferol are fatty fish and egg yolks. Other sources include supplements, cod liver oil, or enriched foods such as milk or cereals .

Bottom Line: Cholecalciferol (D3) is a type of vitamin D found in animal foods, especially fatty fish. It is much more effective than the plant form of vitamin D, ergocalciferol (D2).

5. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid.

It is important for normal brain development and function. Deficiency in DHA can have adverse effects on mental health and brain function, especially in children. In addition, inadequate DHA intake in pregnant women may adversely affect brain development in the child (64).

It is mainly found in fatty fish and fish oil, but also in some types of microalgae.

In the body, DHA can also be made from the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which is found in high amounts in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. However, the conversion of ALA to DHA is inefficient (68, 69). For this reason, vegetarians and vegans are often lower in DHA than meat eaters.

Vegans can get this important fatty acid by taking supplements (algal oil) made from certain micro-algae.

Bottom Line: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish and fish oil. It is also found in microalgae, which are a suitable dietary source for vegetarians.

6. Heme-iron

Heme-iron is a type of iron only found in meat, especially red meat. It is much better absorbed than non-heme iron found in plant foods. Not only is heme-iron well absorbed, it also improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods. This phenomenon is not entirely understood and is called the “meat factor.”

Unlike non-heme iron, heme-iron is not affected by anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, often found in plant foods. For this reason, vegetarians and vegans are more prone to anemia than meat eaters, especially women and people on macrobiotic diets.

Bottom Line: Meat, especially red meat, contains a type of iron called heme-iron, which is much better absorbed than non-heme iron from plant foods.

7. Taurine

Taurine is a sulfur compound found in various body tissues, including the brain, heart and kidneys. The function of taurine in the body is not entirely clear.

However, it appears that it may play a role in muscle function, bile salt formation and the body’s antioxidant defenses.

Supplementation with taurine may have various benefits for heart health such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Taurine is only found in animal foods such as fish, seafood, meat, poultry and dairy products.

It is not essential in the diet since small amounts are produced by the body. However, dietary taurine may play a major role in the maintenance of taurine levels in the body. Levels of taurine are significantly lower in vegans than in meat eaters.

Bottom Line: Taurine is a sulfur compound that has many important functions in the body. It is only found in animal foods.


Take Home Message

Vegetarian and vegan diets may be very healthy for some people. However, there are a few important nutrients that are impossible to get from commonly consumed plant foods. If you plan to completely eliminate animal foods, then be extra prudent about your diet and make sure you are getting everything your body needs.

Common vitamin linked to a higher risk of acne

Vitamin B12 – found in many meat and dairy products and taken as a supplement for better brain function and to stave off anaemia – appears to alter the genetic make-up of facial bacteria, promoting rapid inflammation that’s been linked to the formation of pimples, researchers in the US have reported.

As many poor souls are well aware, acne isn’t just for teenagers. In fact, it affects most of us at some point in our lives, with an estimated 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 around the world experiencing a breakout at some point. The unluckiest of us will have to deal with the unsightly lumps and bumps well into our forties and fifties, and the worst part is that despite being an incredibly common affliction, scientists don’t actually know much about what causes acne and how to prevent or treat it.

To investigate, Huiying Li, a molecular pharmacologist at the University of California-Los Angeles, and her team decided to focus on high levels of B12 as a possible culprit, based on research from the past six decades that’s linked it to higher instances of the condition. “It has been reported several times that people who take B12 develop acne,” she told Arielle Duhaime-Ross at The Verge.

The first thing they did was identify the molecular pathway that produces vitamin B12 in the skin bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, and compared it in people with good skin, and people with acne-prone skin. They found that the vitamin B12 biosynthesis pathway in P. acnes was significantly down-regulated in the acne patients as compared to the patients with healthy skin.

Next, they wanted to test the effects of an increased intake of B12 from eternal sources on the levels of naturally produced B12 in these skin bacteria. They gathered 10 volunteers with clear, healthy skin, and asked them to receive a vitamin B12 injection.

As Jennifer Abbasi reports at LiveScience, “The researchers confirmed that the B12 supplement repressed the expression of genes in P. acnes involved in synthesising the vitamin. In fact, the expression of those genes was lowered to levels similar to those of acne patients.”

So it looks like by intaking extra vitamin B12, we could be prompting the bacteria in our skin to slow down on their production of it, which leads to an imbalance that could heighten our risk of developing acne.

According to the paper, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, one of the clear-skinned participants ending up developing acne one week after recieving the vitamin B12 injection. When Li and her team examined the gene-expression in their P. acnes bacteria, they found that it had gone from looking like that of the other clear-skinned participants to that of their acne-affected volunteers 14 days after the injection.

The team followed up the finding by performing lab tests in which vitamin B12 was added to P. acnes bacteria. The bacteria responded by producing compounds called porphyrins, LiveScience reports, which are known to promote the kind of inflammation that previous research has linked to the appearance of severe acne.

“It’s exciting that we found that the potential link between B12 and acne is through the skin bacteria,” Li told Duhaime-Ross at The Verge.

Now, before you decide to stop taking supplements and cut down on anything rich in vitamin B12, such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk – you know, all the delicious things – remember that this is a small study, and there’s not a whole lot to go on yet, except that vitamin B12 looks like an intriguing candidate for further research.

We really hope another team of researchers picks up on this research and runs with it though, because imgaine how awesome it would be to have a pimple cream that doesn’t cost a fortune and actually works, or a daily treatment that actually prevents acne from appearing that doesn’t burn your face off. We want that.


The human brain is the most complex object in the universe.

It is also the organ that consumes by far the most energy, compared to its weight.

The brain is only about 2% of our body weight, but uses 20% of the energy.

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This remarkable organ has evolved over millions of years. During this time, humans were omnivores. We ate both meat and plants.

There are many nutrients in these foods that areabsolutely critical for the proper function of this very delicate system.

Unless proper care is taken to supplement, going vegan and eschewing animal foods may lead to a deficiency in some of these important substances.

Here are 5 nutrients that are very important for the brain and only found in animal foods.

1. Vitamin B12


Did you know that not a single population in the history of the world has ever willingly adopted a vegan diet?

That’s because before the era of supplements, such a dietary shift would have started killing people within a few years.

The most well known vitamin that the body can’t produce and can only be gotten from animal foods, is Vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in the function of every cell in the body. It is tightly involved in the formation of blood and the function of the brain.

Deficiency usually results in anemia, impaired brain function, symptoms of mental disorders and a smaller brain (1, 2, 3).

There is also evidence linking B12 deficiency to Alzheimer’s Disease, which is the most common cause of dementia in Western countries (4, 5).

The only good food sources of B12 are animal foods like meat, fish and eggs.

A deficiency is widespread among vegans and vegetarians, who avoid these foods. In one study, a whopping 92% of vegans and 47% of lacto-ovo vegetarians were deficient in this critical brain nutrient (6).
Being deficient in B12 can cause irreversible damage to the brain. If your levels are just slightly lower than they should be, you may have symptoms like poor memory, depression and fatigue (7).

So even if you’re not suffering clinical symptoms of B12 deficiency, you may still be less sharp than you should be.

If you choose to avoid animal foods, then make sure to supplement with Vitamin B12 or eat foods that have been fortified with it.

Algae are a potential plant source of B12, but whether they can be effective at correcting B12 deficiency in humans is not known at this point (8, 9).

Bottom Line: Vitamin B12 is critical for the health of the brain and nervous system and is primarily found in animal foods. A deficiency can cause all sorts of adverse effects on brain function.

2. Creatine


Every athlete, bodybuilder and gym enthusiast knows about creatine.

It is the most popular muscle building supplement in the world, for good reason.

Scientific studies consistently show that creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass and strength (10).

The way creatine functions is that it forms an energy reserve, where it is able to quickly recycle ATP in our cells.

ATP is the “energy currency” of cells, what the energy from our foods and body fat stores ultimately get turned into.

During workouts that consume a lot of energy in a short amount of time, creatine gives us more strength and helps us last longer (11).

Creatine is actually not an essential nutrient, because the liver can produce it out of other amino acids. However, this conversion process appears to be inefficient.

About 95% of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle. However, creatine is also concentrated in the brain.

The same way that our muscles require energy to do work, our brain needs energy to do various things… like thinking.

Vegetarians who take creatine supplements see improvements in cognitive performance, especially in more complex tasks, while there is no difference in non-vegetarians (12, 13).

This implies that vegetarians have a deficiency of creatine that is adversely affecting their brain function.

Vegetarians also have a lower amount of creatine in skeletal muscle. Creatine supplements are particularly effective at improving athletic performance in this group (14).

If you must avoid meat, consider supplementing with some Creatine Monohydrate. It will definitely make you stronger and may even make you smarter as well.

Bottom Line: Creatine is an important nutrient in muscle and brain that helps to supply energy. Studies show that vegetarians have a deficiency in creatine that leads to adverse effects on muscle and brain function.

3. Vitamin D3


I’m sure you’ve heard of Vitamin D before… it has received massive attention in the past few years.

Vitamin D is produced out of cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Today, a large part of the world is deficient in this critical nutrient, which actually functions as a steroid hormone in the body.

Many people live where sun is basically absent throughout most of the year. But even in countries where sun is abundant, people tend to stay inside and use sunscreen when they go outside.

There are two main forms of Vitamin D in the diet: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).

D2 comes from plants, D3 from animals. Studies show that D3 is much more effective than the plant form (15).

There are few good sources of Vitamin D3 in the diet. Cod fish liver oil is the best source. Fatty fish also contains some D3, but you’d have to eat massive amounts of it to satisfy your body’s need.

A deficiency in Vitamin D is linked to all sorts of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer (16, 17, 18).

Low blood levels have also been associated with various disorders of the brain, including the autoimmune disease Multiple Sclerosis, depression and cognitive impairment (19, 20, 21).

If getting enough sun is not an option, the only way to get D3 from foods is to take cod fish liver oil or eat lots of fatty fish.

The alternative is to take a D3 supplement, which is highly recommended for people who have a diagnosed deficiency.


Bottom Line: A large part of the world is deficient in Vitamin D3, which is only found in animal foods. A deficiency in this critical nutrient is associated with depression and various diseases.

4. Carnosine

Carnosine is a very important nutrient that you may never have heard of before.

The prefix Carno- is the latin term for meat or flesh, like Carni-vore (meat eater).

It is strictly found in animal tissues, meaning that vegans and vegetarians aren’tgetting much, if any, from the diet.

Carnosine is created out of two amino acids and is highly concentrated in both muscle tissue and brain.

This substance is very protective against various degenerative processes in the body. It is a potent antioxidant, inhibits glycation caused by elevated blood sugars and may prevent cross-linking of proteins (22, 23, 24).

For this reason, Carnosine has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement.

Carnosine levels are significantly lower in patients with various brain disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – the two most common neurodegenerative disorders (25, 26, 27).

Many researchers have speculated that animal foods may protect the brain and body against aging due to their large amount of carnosine (28).

Bottom Line: Carnosine is found strictly in animal tissues. This nutrient can reduce damage caused by elevated blood glucose and may have strong anti-aging effects.

5. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)


Everyone concerned with nutrition knows that Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important.

The human body can not make them, therefore we must get them from the diet.

This is why Omega-3s (and Omega-6s) are termed “essential” fatty acids – if we don’t eat them, we get sick.

There are two active forms of Omega-3s in the body, EPA and DHA.

DHA is the most abundant Omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and it is criticial for normal brain development (29).

Low intakes of DHA can adversely affect various aspects of cognitive function and mental health, especially in children (30, 31).

It is also very important for women at a childbearing age, because a woman’s Omega-3 status can have profound effects on the brain of the offspring (32).

Many people who avoid animal products supplement with flax seed oil instead, which is a great source of ALA… a plant form of Omega-3.

However, ALA needs to be converted to DHA for it to work. Studies show that this conversion process is notoriously ineffective in humans (33).

For this reason, vegans and vegetarians are very likely to be deficient in this very important fatty acid (34, 35).

The best source of DHA is fatty fish. Other good sources include grass-fed and pastured animal products. There are also some algae that can produce EPA and DHA.


Bottom Line: The Omega-3 fatty acid DHA is critical for proper function of the brain. It is primarily found in animal foods like fatty fish. Studies show that vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in it.

Just Eat Some Animals

Humans evolved eating both animals and plants. However, we can function in some cases without either.

The Inuit, for example, survived mostly without plants, but they had to compensate by eating lots of organ meats.

In the 21st century, people can survive and function without animal foods if they make sure to supplement with critical nutrients.

Before the era of supplementation, completely removing animal foods would have lead to a slow and painful death due to B12 deficiency.

But even though functioning without either plants or animals is possible… neither is optimal.

In the same way that a meat-based diet is healthier with a little bit of plants, a plant-based diet is healthier with a little bit of animals.

I highly recommend that people who choose to avoid meat for ethical reasons (because there is NO proven health reason) at least include some eggs and fatty fish. A little bit goes a long way and it is possible to choose natural, humanely raised sources.

But to those who really decide to remove all animal foods from their diet… make sure to be very prudent about your diet and supplement, or you may end up very sick with a poorly functioning brain.


Inexpensive Vitamin Treats ‘So Many Diseases’ It Threatens Big Pharma

Peripheral neuropathy, which is characterized by sharp pain or numbing and tingling, affects people of all ages. But the cure isn’t some outlandish and expensive pharmaceutical medicine – it’s a vitamin found easily in fish or supplements. Patients suffering from a loss of muscular control, painful tingling, numbness and loss of sensation in their limbs don’t have to undergo invasive surgeries or take debilitating meds – they may be able to simply take high doses of Vitamin B12. This vitamin benefits many other diseases as well.

Our bodies need 13 different B vitamins, and B12 can be especially lacking. Most of us are already familiar with B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, and folic acid. But the B complex also includes vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), B12, biotin, PABA, choline, and inositol. These water-soluble vitamins are indispensable for good health.

What’s more, the high sugar diet that many Americans partake of also destroys Vitamin B12 in the intestinal tract.

As Natural Society previously reported, one UK doctor is a big fan of B12 – so much so that he has treated all kinds of illnesses with B12 shots. He fully documented his successes, but UK health officials were wary because he was giving inexpensive B12 injections to patients whose blood serum B12 levels were above 150, which the UK medical establishment considers normal.

Most of us don’t get enough B12 in our diets, though you can find it primarily in animal sources like seafood, shellfish, dairy, and meat. It also isn’t given its due credit in the medical establishment, as many vitamins and minerals don’t since they cannot be patented and sold as billion dollar drugs. But even a geneticist recently uncovered the ability of B12 to treat the rare disease that causes loss of muscle control in a toddler.

David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center Director says that B12 might be one of the most important vitamins that you aren’t paying any attention to. One of the most obviously vital functions of the vitamins, as he points out, is its ability to promote the normal replication of DNA. Without B12, we cannot regenerate normal, healthy cells.

This means that even if you don’t have a full-blown disease like peripheral neuropathy, you will likely feel old before your time, excessively tired, anemic, dizzy, and irritable. You may also more frequently suffer from dementia as you age.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, it can be difficult to get enough B12. Try the following tips:

  • Eat more meat, dairy, and seafood.
  • Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms
  • Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day.

If you’ve been feeling sluggish, check that you are getting enough B12, and if not, supplement. Your renewed health will be testament to the miracle of this vitamin.

How can I get enough vitamin B12 if I don’t eat meat?

Animal foods are the primary sources of Vitamin B12 and hence strict vegetarians (vegans)- those who avoid meat, poultry, fish and dairy products – can find themselves deficient in this vital vitamin. The best way to protect yourself is to know the benefits & facts about Vitamin B12, and make sure that you’re getting enough of it.

Vitamin B12, or Cobalamin, is critical for a healthy central nervous system, creating new blood cells and DNA. Left untreated B12 deficiency can result in severe, permanent neurological damage. Vegan mothers are recommended supplementary B12 intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding, since infants are not born with B12 reserves and a B12 deficiency can be immediate and devastating.

Good vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12 include dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), eggs, fortified cereals, fortified milk substitutes (with calcium and vitamin D), fortified meat substitutes, and nutritional yeast.

It shouldn’t be difficult for vegetarians, including vegans, to get the Vit B12 RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for adults. Besides fortified vegan foods, B12 supplements are another inexpensive and effective source of consuming the vitamin and beneficial for all age groups.

People (including non vegetarians), who can’t absorb Vitamin B12 from food sources due to various medical factors related to digestion, should try B12 supplements in crystalline form (sublingual supplements) since they enter the blood stream directly, bypassing the whole digestive process involved in separating B12 from food.

Natural News Blogs 7 Warning Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency .


The importance of B12 in the human body is hard to overestimate.

And while you hear things like how it’s important for your nerves, DNA and red blood cells among many other things, what does a lack of it actually do in more “every day” language?

To answer that, let’s take a look at a case study of what can happen when your levels get too low.


A real life example of what happens from low B12


The New England Journal of Medicine reported on the case of 62 year old man who, during the course of several weeks, starting having varied symptoms.

He experienced numbness, difficulty walking and intense joint pain. He had “stinging” sensations in his hands almost like pins poking him. His skin took on a yellowish color and shortness of breath would often occur.

He was checked out at Massachusetts General Hospital and they pinpointed the cause as a severe lack of B12 in his blood.

I highly encourage you to get a blood test for B12 and to know what your own levels are.

If you can’t do that anytime soon, here are 7 common warning signs that are linked to low levels of this vitamin.


Signs that you may be B12 deficient


  • Memory loss, impaired thinking and general cognitive difficulties.


  • If you have difficulty walking, tend to stagger, or have balance problems.


  • Various and “odd” sensations throughout your body, numbness, or tingling that occurs in your hands, legs or feet


  • Yellowish or jaundiced skin.


  • Anemia


  • A swollen tongue or if it’s inflamed.


  • General weakness and fatigue


If B12 levels drop to into the severely deficient range, it can lead to much worse conditions.

Deep states of depression, hallucinations and paranoia are all associated with extremely low levels. Losing the ability to taste and smell has even been linked to low B12.

And since it’s such an important part of brain health, it can lead to greatly diminished brain functioning, beyond what is mentioned above.


So what leads to low B12?


Here are some things to look out for, that can lead to or cause lower B12 levels.

A vegetarian or vegan diet (since plants don’t make B12, and you would need to supplement with B12 to keep your levels up).

Certain medications like PPI’s

Gut issues such as “leaky gut” or an inflamed gut.

Pernicious anemia

Low stomach acid or taking drugs to suppress acid production in the stomach.

Other things can include Metformin, a drug used for diabetes, people aged 60 and over and women who have had infertility issues in the past.


What to do?

Eat a lot eggs, dairy, poultry and animal sources of protein, which are all good sources of this vitamin.

(Quick note: you may hear things like fermented soy or spirulina and other sources have B12, but many of these plant-based foods have B12 analogs. These are called cobamides and they can block your intake of “real” B12 that your body needs).

If eating any of the above isn’t an option for you for any reason, you’ll want to supplement with B12.

And a form of B12 called methylcobalamin is your best bet, since it is better absorbed within your body.


OK, so what are optimal B12 levels to shoot for?


In the United States, you’ll see lab reference ranges as low as 250 or 300 pg/mL (picograms per milliliter) listed as “normal” when they are anything but.

As an example, Japan uses a lower limit of around 500 pg/mL and recommends treatment for anything below that number since B12 deficiency symptoms can start showing up at levels lower than 500.

Personally, I’d like to see B12 levels in the 800 to 1200 pg/mL range for optimal health.

Please do get your levels tested though as soon as you can.

And if you happen to find yourself with any of the warning signs described above or with levels of 400 or lower, you may want to boost your B12 and see what this powerful vitamin can do for you.