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 By Dr. Jo Gjelsten

If We Only Had A Brain

I've written in the past about B-12 and its effects on energy and the heart.  Here’s what the affect B-12 in the methyl (cobalamin, another word for B-12) form has on mental clarity, which I’ll tell you as soon as I can remember it. While I’m doing that, a little information for you:  Methylcobalamin is THE form the body uses, so why not start with that? Otherwise you must convert the crappy one you bought on sale, called cyanobalamin, to the methyl form, and we have no time for that. And some of us don’t do it efficiently, as it’s done in the liver, and you guys whose livers might be a bit pickled at this stage in your life, may leave a lot of B-12 behind.

I just ordered as sublingual cherry flavored methyl form that also contains B-6 and folic acid, all of which helps LOWER homocysteine, which is found to be HIGH in 20 to 40 percent of heart patients, and which can damage arteries. Refined foods destroy these important vitamins, so let’s not be so refined. Why sublingual? Because then it bypasses the digestive system and goes right into your bloodstream without passing GO.  Studies show that the sublingual form (under the tongue) is better absorbed than tablets or inhaled (inhaled?)  B-12.  You can also get a shot from your Doc.

As we age our ability to absorb B-12 is sharply reduced, so lots of older folks (25% in fact) are deficient. Because you need something intrinsic called intrinsic factor in your stomach to absorb it, those with stomach problems could have this problem. It has also been found to be low in patients who take certain meds for Diabetes, so if you’re in that group and finding it hard to think, are fatigued, or should you have high homocysteine in your blood, or perhaps a macrocytic anemia, you may benefit from supplementation of both B-12 and folic acid, see last month’s article I sometimes say.

Important to know from Dr. Jo: Don’t supplement on your own. Do this with someone who knows the right dose and right type of supplement and your middle name, someone who knows you and your medical situation well. If you don’t, you run the risk of nothing happening, and your blood levels remaining the same, a risk in itself.

Back to brain health. Emotional balance and mental clarity when present can keep you in a good mood, a nice side effect of this important B-12 vitamin. But how does it affect the brain?  You need B-12 to make your myelin, the sheath around your nerve cells which protects the endings and allows them to talk with each other in nerve speak. Why is this important? After a seven year deficiency in B-12 irreversible brain damage could result. In one study the participants with the lowest B-12 levels had six times lower brain volumes, literally a shrinking brain.

Those who take birth control pills are also at risk. I had a young patient whose depression was lifted when I gave her a tailored supplement that included B-12 in the right form and dose, and she avoided anti-depressants. But many other drugs can lower B-12. See a list on my website at www.GoDrJo.com, and go there for other brain boosters. Vitamin D comes to mind. 

How do you know you have low B-12? Get a blood level. Other markers may show up as the aforementioned type of anemia. Symptoms might include foggy thinking, low energy, reproductive problems, blood cell problems, digestive problems, circulation problems and having low moods, yet another problem, but who wouldn’t with all that?

What else can we do for our think tank? I take Bacopa, an herb, Herb, popular in India, which is one of the things I now use for maintenance on my noggin and to enhance learning and memory. It’s also been shown to help you think under stress, students of mine, though it can have a tranquilizing effect. I think I’ll take a nap now. Actually, it can also stimulate the thyroid, increasing T-4 levels, so don’t do this your self Yolanda. But I can tell you that it’s been used for centuries in Ayurvedic Medicine for a variety of reasons. I like its anti-oxidant properties, a nice thing to have hanging around your brain. It must be taken “chronically” (I love that) because it takes time to feel its effects on your mental clarity so wait already alright?

And finally, because we only remember 3 things easily, and we already discussed B-12 and…what was that…Bacopa, another supplement I like, and there are many, many more, but you may have heard of them all and I enjoy teaching something different will this sentence EVER end…for brain function is alpha lipoic acid, the R-Lipoic form specifically, because it crosses the blood brain barrier(reference #1) and helps to quench free radicals up there.

Besides supplements it’s important to exercise, and exercise your brain, so I do crossword puzzles and I use my training, logic, and muscle testing to figure out how to treat my patient’s problems. You might enjoy music as I do, which helps maintain brain function, especially if you play an instrument. And because about a quarter of your brain is made up of your motor cortex, motor skills, using your hands, can help keep you tuned up.

Also, try memorizing things.  After hearing on TV a couple of years ago that most Americans can’t name the provinces of Canada, I realized that I was one of them, so I memorized them using a acronym. Of course I think everyone should know this, so I drive people crazy wanting to teach them. Somehow they don’t think it’s important…but I do, so here we go, try to first remember BASM, for, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, then the 2 I know you know, Ontario and Quebec, then the 3 N’s starting with the “New” ones, Newfoundland, (Labrador is part of this one), New Brunswick, then Nova Scotia. Then the odd guys, Prince Edward Island,  and 3 Territories, Yukon, Northwest, and Nunavut. There you have it. I’ll have Nunavut. The last 2 are new to me, so now I’ve learned something too!  Have I lost you….there’ll be a test next week. Go forth and think. ☺ www.GoDrJo.com. ☺Copyright February 10, 2012 ©.



The products and claims made about specific products on our site have not been evaluated by any regulatory health authority and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on our site is for informational purposes only. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any or stopping any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.


FOOD, what I like to call "the ABC'S of food", and also covered by Dr. Oz, they are:  Avocados, Beets, and Cashews. All of these are favorites of mine. 


"NeuroMag™ features the unique, patented, chelated mineral Magtein™, which is magnesium chelated to threonic acid (magnesium L-threonate). This ionophore has been found to be superior to other forms of magnesium at getting through the blood brain barrier as it is able to transport ions (in this case magnesium ions) across lipid membranes, including brain cells.

Several studies indicate that synaptic connections in the brain hippocampus, a critical brain region for learning and memory, decline during aging. Studies have also found low levels of magnesium in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroMag’s Magtein™ was found in animal studies to increase learning ability, working memory, and short- and long-term memory. NeuroMag™ enhances functioning of the hippocampus by improving synaptic plasticity and NMDA (N-Methyl-D-aspartate) receptor-dependent signaling. Researchers at MIT conclude that elevating brain magnesium levels with Magtein™ may be a beneficial in enhancing cognitive abilities and preventing age-related memory decline."

THE ABOVE PRODUCT IS AVAILABLE from Dr. Jo. Please call the office for an appointment.

Other factors also influence your body’s B12 levels:

Age: People over 50 tend to have a limited ability to absorb B12.

Drinking coffee: A study in Clinical Chemistry found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 15 percent reduction in multiple B vitamins compared to those who drank no coffee.

Taking medications: Many prescription drugs diminish your body’s levels of B12, including antibiotics, anticancer medications, anticonvulsants, anti-gout medications, antihypertensives, antiParkinson's medications, antipsychotics, antituberculosis medications, birth control pills, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and potassium replacements."The older you get the more your digestive system breaks down, especially if you have been following the standard American diet. Specifically the lining of your stomach gradually loses its ability to produce hydrochloric acid which releases vitamin B12 from your food. The use of antacids or anti-ulcer drugs will also lower your stomach acid secretion and decrease your ability to absorb vitamin B12. Infection with Helicobactor pylori, a common contributor to stomach ulcers, can also result in vitamin B12 deficiency."

Those who have undergone weight-loss surgery, which can impair your body’s ability to absorb B12 and other vitamins.

• Those exposed to laughing gas anesthesia or nitrous oxide.


"Vitamin B12 deficiency in Australian residential aged care facilities," Mirkazemi C, Peterson GM, et al, J Nutr Health Aging, 2012; 16(13): 277-80. (Address: G. Peterson, Unit for Medication Outcomes Research and Education, School of Pharmacy, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 26, HOBART, Tasmania 7001, Australia. E-mail: G.Peterson@utas.edu.au ).
Summary: In a study involving 130 residential aged care facility residents in southern Tasmania, Australia, without a prior diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency or recorded serum B12 level within the previous 6 months, 14% were found to be vitamin B12 deficient (serum <150 pmol/L), 36% were equivocal (150 pmol/L to 250 pmol/L), and 50% had normal serum B12 levels (>250 pmol/L). Supplementation with a multivitamin was associated with an increased mean serum B12 (+137 pmol/L), while anti-psychotic medication was associated with decreased mean serum B12 (-70 pmol/L) level. The authors conclude, "As vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest in a range of symptoms that are frequently misdiagnosed, the finding of undetected deficiency in 14% of residents is a cause for concern. Oral multivitamin supplementation may help prevent deficiency, and potentially treat existing deficiencies in older institutionalised people."


The products and claims made about specific products on our site have not been evaluated by any regulatory health authority and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on our site is for informational purposes only. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any or stopping any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

A wonderful new antioxidant I’ll be writing about and offering next month is great for your brain function, Astaxanthin!

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August 11, 2016
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Joanne Gjelsten

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