The Power of B12

  • By Healthy Living Liberty Lake
  • 24 Apr, 2017
One of the more common complaints we hear about as people get older are what's known as "senior moments". You know the feeling - you walk into a room and can't remember why you're there, you see someone you've known for years and can't remember their name, you can't think of the word you want to say. There are many reasons for a memory not being as sharp as it was when we were younger, including menopause in women and lower testosterone in men, insomnia, nutritional deficiencies and years of accumulated toxins and heavy metals from our diet and the air we breathe, and of course, dementia. But a very common reason that is often overlooked is inadequate Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is critical for many reasons, chief among them being energy production and brain function. Even when B12 blood levels are in the normal range you can still be low as far as brain function is concerned, leading to cognitive impairment.

Symptoms of low B12 levels include fatigue, neuropathy - or nerve pain, difficulty with balance, lightheadedness, depression, memory loss, bursitis in the shoulders, behavioral changes and constipation. These symptoms can be caused by many other things, of course, but always consider B12. Your doctor should also be checking a complete thyroid function - TSH, Free T3, and Free T4 - as our thyroid does not function as well as we age and this profoundly affects memory and energy levels as well. But a B12 level will also be checked, the problem being that even if it's read as "normal", it can still be a B12 deficiency.

Other causes of low B12 include a vegetarian diet, alcohol use, and multiple medications, including drugs for heartburn, and metformin for diabetes.  

A recent study looked at 100 men and women with mild cognitive impairment, between the ages of 50-80 years old. All of them had B12 levels in the normal range, but there was a big difference. Half of them had levels in the lower range of normal, and half in the upper range of normal. Then the researchers did testing for cognitive function and performed MRIs of the brains, paying particular attention to the an area called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area of the brain that controls short-term memory, and is the first area hit by Alzhiemer's.

What they found was astounding. The patients with  B12 levels in the lower end of the range "showed a significantly poorer learning ability and recognition performance than did patients with high-normal vitamin B12 levles. Also, the microstructue integrity of the hippocampus was lower in patients with low-normal vitamin B12". This is strong evidence that the higher the B12 levels the better the cognitive function.

I do a lot of brain health in my practice, and pay particular attention to B12 and other causes of cognitive impairment. I also perform a test called a QEEG, or quantitative EEG in the office, which is the most accurate measurement of brain functioning in every lobe of the brain. It measures brain speeds and can give us an indication of actual early dementia, vs a brain that is slowing with age, and what we can do to improve the functioning.I remember one case, a 72 year old man, who's family doctor diagnosed him with dementia and there was nothing that could be done. He wanted another opinion, understandably so, and  we performed the QEEG, which showed profound slowing and was quite concerning.  After all his blood tests came back, I saw that he had the lowest B12 level I've ever seen!  I started him on, at first daily, then weekly B12 shots, and within 8 weeks he was back to normal cognition.  A repeat QEEG showed the speed had normalized completely - he certainly did  not  have dementia!

The best form of B12 is methylated, or methylcobalamin. This form is more bio-available and crosses into the brain more readily. We purchase it from a pharmacy in Florida, as most local pharmacies don't keep it in stock, and instead have the cheaper, inferior cyanocobalamin. Don't use this form. Have your doctor give you an injection of 2 mg of methylcobalamin once a week for 8 weeks, as it will take 2 months to see results. Why an injection? As people age, they are not able to absorb B12 orally as well. So, it's best absorbed as an injection. If you improve, you can then try switching to sublingual B12 drops, given under the tongue - this is absorbed better than taking it as a capsule.

I would try this regimen even if your blood levels of B12 are normal. It can't hurt, might help, is cheap, and easy to try. Many insurances are not paying for B12 anymore, and we sell them in packages of 3 for a reasonable price. And remember, if your doctor has told you that you or your loved one has dementia, and a thorough work-up has not been done to look at reversible causes, it's time to get another opinion.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 12 Oct, 2017
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer occurring in men. Approximately 230,000 men a year are diagnosed with the disease, while 29,000 of them will die from it - a 90% survival rate. We don't know if the 29,000 who die have died from the actual treatment of the disease, versus the cancer itself. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, and most cases are diagnosed after age 65. It is rare under age 40.

There is much controversy regarding prostate cancer treatment. Most cases are indolent, meaning they don't spread outside of the prostate itself and that the patient will die from something else before prostate cancer becomes a mortal threat. Men with low risk prostate cancer need no treatment and are good candidates for active surveillance.  

If your PSA is between 1.5-4, you have a 15 times greater risk of prostate cancer than men with a PSA < 1.5. So if you're told that your PSA is high, or on exam you have a nodule that is suspicious, the only option that has been offered until now was a 3D color doppler or MRI, and prostate biopsy. However, there is concern that a biopsy may contribute to spread of the disease past the capsule of the prostate, and that if left alone it would have stayed encapsulated, causing no health issues. 80% of men who undergo biopsy, which is a painful and bloody procedure, have either no cancer or an indolent form of cancer.

This may explain why there have been studies showing that those who did nothing with a diagnosis of prostate cancer have the same survival as those who were treated.

What should you do if told you either have, or may have, prostate cancer?

Get a test called a 4K score (4Kscore.com). This is a specialized blood test that is sent to the 4K lab, and can help to differentiate if the tumor you have is one that is likely to be more indolent, or one that is more likely to be aggressive and requires treatment. If it comes back low risk, then you can talk to your doctor about active surveillance. Meaning, just watch it for now. And avoid the pain and possible risks of prostate biopsy.

The test is covered by insurances and Medicare, and is simple to do.

You can reduce your risk of ever developing prostate cancer, and also reduce the size of the prostate with a few simple measures:
    1) Take vitamin D, and have your levels checked -- it should be between 70-90. A low vitamin D is strongly associated with prostate cancer.  
    2) Have your testosterone and estrogen levels checked. A low testosterone is associated with prostate cancer, as is a high estrogen level. If your testosterone is low, get your levels up using bio-identical testosterone, and if the estrogens are high, you'll need to lower your levels. I often use a drug called anastrazole to lower estrogen in men.
    3) Use a supplement to reduce the size of the prostate and to reduce PSA. I like one by Xymogen, called Prostate Flo.
It's an excellent product for the prostate, a combination of zinc, saw palmetto, pygeum, cranberry fruit, B6, and beta-sitosterol. Zinc is highly concentrated in the prostate and a lack of zinc has been associated with a reduction in the repair of DNA damage in prostate tissue. Zinc is also necessary for the production of testosterone.

For a much more comprehensive review of alternative views in the treatment of prostate cancer, go to SurvivingProstateCancer.org.

By Dr. Susan Ashley, M.D.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 05 Oct, 2017
For anti-aging, nothing replaces activity and movement, and now another study out of Britain emphasizes this point. Men who played sports in mid-life were more likely to be active in old age than those who did other types of physical activity in mid-life. This was especially true for those who played sports for many years, the findings showed. For those that played sports for 25 years, they were nearly five times more likely to be physically active in old age than those who didn't play sports.

The research included 3500 men, ages 40-59, and followed them for 20 years.  Those who were physically active in mid-life were nearly three times more likely to be active at the end of the study period.

Men tended to take up walking as they aged. At the start of the study, just 27% reported high levels of walking. By the end of the study, that number was 62%.

It was felt that people's enjoyment of sport may be more likely to persist into old age than preferences for other types of activity. Sport participation in mid-life may help maintain physical function and physical activity in later life, increasing psychological and physical readiness in old age.

The bottom line?  Start being active early in life. Allow your children to play sports, run, jump, bike, and get in the habit of moving and exercising while playing. This habit will be more likely to follow them into mid-life, and then into later life.  
Your muscles and bone density will stay stronger, and the quality of life will drastically improve.  

When you walk, try to walk briskly, at a pace of 3-4 miles per hour. Many studies have shown that the faster the pace, the longer the life. And when the pace slows down, aging is accelerating.

Ligament, tendon and muscle injuries are more likely to occur as we age. To counter this, I keep a supplement made by Standard Process called Ligaplex at home. It works great for these injuries, to allow healing much more quickly. Stem cells of course also allow for a much faster healing rate for orthopedic injuries.

Our bodies are meant for motion - don't let yourself slow down when you reach your 40s and 50s and beyond!

By Dr. Susan Ashley, M.D.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 28 Sep, 2017
One in three seniors will die of dementia. One in three!! If you think one-third of all seniors will die with dementia isn't shocking enough, below are some more terrifying facts about what happens to our minds as we get older:

  • One in eight over 65 years old in the USA has Alzheimer’s
  • In 2014, an estimated 5.2 million in the USA have Alzheimer’s
  • Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men
  • One in six Women will develop Alzheimer’s
  • Just five years ago in 2012 the United States alone spent $200 billion with Medicare, Medicaid and Out of Pocket Expense for Alzheimer’s and other Dementia care not including Private Health Insurance. This number is projected to go to $1 trillion.
  • Alzheimer’s can start as early as the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Remember this if you still can, as the population starts to age we have to be ready for what is rapidly going to be one of our biggest healthcare problems, if not THE biggest healthcare problem, dementia in all its forms. We now know that one-third of our aging population will die with a form of dementia and one-sixth of all women will die with the most common form -- Alzheimer's. This epidemic can become an unimaginable burden on the family and loved ones that take care of the afflicted.  

Dementia will soon become the biggest cost of the healthcare system. This is a larger problem than AIDs in the 1980s, and just as serious as cancer and heart disease. As over 10,000 people a day, projected to go to 15,000 people a day, turn 65 in the USA, dementia will soon be the number one health risk.
  
There are many types of dementia, with Alzheimer's being the most common. Two other forms of dementia are multi-infarct - or small strokes - and Parkinson's disease. It is basically any condition that develops when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The death of the nerve cells causes changes in memory, behavior, and ability to think clearly. In Alzheimer's, the brain changes eventually impair an individual's ability to carry out such basic bodily functions as walking and swallowing, and is ultimately fatal.

So what are we to do?  In our clinic if any of our patients are complaining of their memory, or "senior moments", we obtain the most sensitive indicator of brain functioning, a QEEG, or quantitative EEG. Covered by Medicare and most insurances, this will tell us how the brain is working in every lobe, and what can be done to improve brain functioning. I use a number of specific brain supplements to nourish the brain, including omega 3s and the B vitamins, depending on what the QEEG shows. Neurofeedback can be used to help brain functioning, and exercise performed regularly is known to improve our brains. Diabetes should be well controlled, since high blood sugars are devastating to the brain cells and create more inflammation. And recently we've started Stem Cell therapy to help slow Alzheimer's or dementia from any cause.

If you want to read more, buy the book The End of Alzheimers by Dale Bredesen, M.D. It's a wonderful book that is highly informative and should be a must-read by everyone over the age of 50.  

By Dr. Susan Ashley, M.D.
More Posts
Share by: