The Importance of B12 – Part 2: B12 & The Digestion Connection

By guest contributor Barb Swanson
(author of Beyond Foods: The Handbook of Functional Nutrition)

As a reminder:

    • Many people are deficient in vitamin B12.
    • B12 is utterly essential for ongoing health, from pre-birth onward.

What does digestion have to do with B12 levels?
Even more than most other micronutrients, B12 could be plentiful in your diet–but not assimilated into your body. The stomach is an especially important digestive organ for B12 assimilation. There are two main reasons for a lack of assimilation:

      • You need stomach acid to break apart the protein bonds that bind B12.
      • Your stomach produces intrinsic factor, an enzyme which allows your body to absorb B12.

Why this is an issue for millions of people:
Acid Indigestion

      • Over 30% of American adults–about 100 million– use antacids over 6x a week.
      • Over 15 million Americans use Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs daily.

Bariatric Surgeries

      • Over 250,000 people have some form of gastric bypass surgery, every year.

All the above issues dramatically lessen the amount of acid and other stomach enzymes that you are able to produce.

Another issue: Diabetes
Almost 84 MILLION–over 25% of all Americans–have been prescribed Metformin. This is an issue because Metformin is linked to anemia and B12 deficiency.

Add up the numbers cited above, and it means that at least 1/3 of Americans, and likely many more, likely or definitely have insufficient B12 due to prescriptions or surgeries.

Next in this series: I will finish up this short series with some great science on the benefits you get with B12, and recommendations on what to do to maintain good B12 levels.

The video below is a great resource to hear further on B12 and digestion. It was also featured in my article Part 1 in this series, but is still the best resource I found, so I included it a second time!

If video is not showing in your browser you can see it at

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