DASH diet basics
To properly follow the DASH diet, you should strive to include foods that are rich in:
- Lean protein
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Additionally, you are advised to avoid salt and high-caloric fatty processed foods, while enjoying ample supplies of whole vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Health benefits of the DASH diet include weight loss, cardiovascular health, diabetes prevention, good digestion, normal blood pressure, and bone health.
And because the DASH diet promotes consumption of vitamin B12-rich foods, you will also experience enhanced neurological functioning, cognitive excellence, and an increase in energy.
DASH diet with B12 malabsorption
However, even if you follow the DASH diet by the book, you may require extra vitamin B12 supplementation in order to achieve maximum health benefits.
For many, vitamin B12 malabsorption interferes with your ability to extract cobalamin (vitamin B12) from DASH diet foods such as lean poultry, seafood, and yogurt. Over years, your vitamin B12 levels drop incrementally, resulting in eventual vitamin B12 deficiency by your mid-30s or 40s.
It’s very difficult to tell if you suffer from vitamin B12 malabsorption through blood tests alone, as typical screenings only check for total serum vitamin B12 levels, and don’t isolate specific “active” vitamin B12 molecules in your body.
(Related: Vitamin B12 Malabsorption)
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
The best way for your doctor to tell if you’re experiencing vitamin B12 deficiency (despite following the DASH diet) is by diagnosing common symptoms of early onset and advanced vitamin B12 deficiency, sometimes referred to as pernicious anemia.
Tell your doctor if you frequently experience the following unusual symptoms:
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Memory loss
- Slow thinking (“brain fog”)
- Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities (hands, feet, legs, arms)
- Difficulty swallowing
- “Electric shock” sensations
- Sore, red tongue
- Burning sensations
- Muscle twitches, spasms
- Partial paralysis
- Eye floaters
- Vision problems
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty controlling arm or leg movements
(Related: What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?)
Getting enough B12 on DASH
If you’re diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, despite following the DASH diet, then you’re most likely not able to benefit from vitamin B12 from dietary sources. Instead, it is crucial to get proper supplementation of vitamin B12 by non-dietary means, and avoiding vitamin B12 pills, which are ineffective.
Popular sources of vitamin B12 for people suffering from B12 malabsorption include vitamin B12 injections and sublingual vitamin B12 tablets.
Also, you may safely complement prescription vitamin B12 with additional over-the-counter (OTC) B12 supplements, without concern for health risks.
(Quite the contrary, multiple scientific sources cite the various health benefits gained by taking mega-doses of vitamin B12 each day. For more, read Vitamin B12: the Energy Elixir.)
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