Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.
Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached in food. After this, vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and is absorbed by the body. Some people have pernicious anemia, a condition where they cannot make intrinsic factor. As a result, they have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from all foods and dietary supplements. If you have any vitamin B-12 supplements, check the ingredients label right now to see what form of vitamin B-12 they contain. If they contain cyanocobalamin, throw them out!
VitaminQuick uses Methylcobalamin vs. Cyanocobalamin. HERE'S WHY?
Traditionally, people who are deficient in vitamin B-12 have received injections of B-12. This is extremely effective because it bypasses the digestive tract and goes right into the bloodstream. But it has one obvious downside: It requires being injected and it is expensive! So most people aren't interested in this method. Instead, most people supplement their vitamin B-12 using nutritional supplements. But here's where this can go wrong: The most commonly available form of vitamin B-12 on the market is the cheap synthetic form that's actually bound to a cyanide molecule (yes, cyanide, the poison). It's called cyanocobalamin, and you'll find it in all the cheap vitamins made by pharmaceutical companies and sold at grocery stores and big box stores.
Cyanocobalamin is a cheap, synthetic chemical made in a laboratory. It's virtually impossible for you to find this form in nature. Low-end vitamin manufacturers use it because it can be bought in bulk and added to products with claims that they "contain vitamin B-12!" What they don't tell you is that the vitamin is bound to a toxic, poisonous cyanide molecule that must then be removed from your body by your liver. Cyanocobalamin is also up to 100 times cheaper than the higher quality methylcobalamin.
The proper form of vitamin B-12 to supplement is called methylcobalamin. This is the form that exists in nature, and it is pre-methylated, meaning it's ready for your biochemistry to put to immediate use. Methylcobalamin has several key advantages over cyanocobalamin:
* Increased absorption
* Better retention in tissues
* Contains no toxic cyanide
* Supports production of SAMe
This is why we use Methylcobalamin in VitaminQuick and not Cyanocobalamin.
Am I getting enough vitamin B12?
Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 1.5% and 15% of the public. Your doctor can test your vitamin B12 level to see if you have a deficiency.
Certain groups may not get enough vitamin B12 or have trouble absorbing it:
- Many older adults, who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 naturally present in food. People over 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements because, in most cases, their bodies can absorb vitamin B12 from these sources.
- People with pernicious anemia whose bodies do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12. Doctors usually treat pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 shots, although very high oral doses of vitamin B12 might also be effective.
- People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease. These conditions can decrease the amount of vitamin B12 that the body can absorb.
- Some people who eat little or no animal foods such as vegetarians and vegans. Only animal foods have vitamin B12 naturally. When pregnant women and women who breastfeed their babies are strict vegetarians or vegans, their babies might also not get enough vitamin B12.
What happens if I don't get enough vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue. Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system even in people who don't have anemia, so it is important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.
In infants, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include failure to thrive, problems with movement, delays in reaching the typical developmental milestones, and megaloblastic anemia.
Large amounts of folic acid can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency by correcting megaloblastic anemia, a hallmark of vitamin B12 deficiency. But folic acid does not correct the progressive damage to the nervous system that vitamin B12 deficiency also causes. For this reason, healthy adults should not get more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid a day.
What are some effects of vitamin B12 on health?
Scientists are studying vitamin B12 to understand how it affects health. Here are several examples of what this research has shown:
- Heart disease
Vitamin B12 supplements (along with folic acid and vitamin B6) do not reduce the risk of getting heart disease. Scientists had thought that these vitamins might be helpful because they reduce blood levels ofhomocysteine, a compound linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
As they get older, some people develop dementia. These people often have high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Vitamin B12 (with folic acid and vitamin B6) can lower homocysteine levels, but scientists don't know yet whether these vitamins actually help prevent or treat dementia.
- Energy and athletic performance
Advertisements often promote vitamin B12 supplements as a way to increase energy or endurance. Except in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency, no evidence shows that vitamin B12 supplements increase energy or improve athletic performance.
Can vitamin B12 be harmful?
Vitamin B12 has not been shown to cause any harm.