What About Vitamin B12?


Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble member of the B-complex family.

It plays a vital role in metabolism, DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and nerve function.

It was discovered by Nobel Prize winners George Minot and William P. Murphy in their search for the cause of the disease known as pernicious anemia.

Does Vitamin B12 Really Give You Energy?

A common belief concerning vitamin B12 is that it gives us energy. However, energy in the human body has just one source: calories.

Nevertheless, anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency often results in fatigue and weakness, which when corrected can restore energy to normal levels.

Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Can Be Deadly

Vitamin B12 and folate work together in several ways. Both are involved in the formation of red blood cells.

When either nutrient is lacking, red blood cells that are larger than normal (macrocytosis) can form and crowd out healthy, red blood cells. This can lead to anemia.

The consequences of pernicious anemia (from a lack of vitamin B12) are more serious than those resulting from folate-deficiency anemia, due to the importance of B12 to the nerves.

Pernicious ("deadly") anemia can damage the brain and spinal cord, possibly resulting in irreversible neuropathies or cognitive dysfunction. Without treatment, the disease can even be deadly.

B12 Deficiencies May Cause Dementia

Because vitamin B12 is needed for proper brain function, adequate blood levels are essential for optimal cognition. Although dementia can have several different causes, a B12 deficiency is one that is easily correctable.

Older men and women who experience memory problems should ask their doctor for a vitamin B12 blood test. The early stages of B12 deficiency can be determined with a urinary methylmalonic acid test.

Vitamin B12 Maintains Healthy Homocysteine Levels

Vitamin B12, along with vitamin B6 and folate, are used by the body to maintain safe blood levels of homocysteine. When elevated, this amino acid has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

If your blood test for total homocysteine is higher than 8 micromoles per liter (mmol/L), make sure your intake of B vitamins is adequate. For many people, this requires supplementation.

Where to Find Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 occurs mainly in animal-sourced foods, including meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, and fortified cereals. For this reason, some vegans and vegetarians are deficient, making supplementation essential.

People whose stomachs fail to make sufficient acid or who take acid-blocking drugs may not derive enough vitamin B12 from the food they eat. Additionally, some individuals lack a protein known as intrinsic factor which is needed for B12 absorption.

To get sufficient levels, these people often obtain the vitamin via injection. Vitamin supplements usually contain low amounts of folic acid because higher doses of this vitamin can mask a B12 deficiency.

If you are consuming more than 1,000 milligrams folic acid per day, it is a good idea to also supplement with vitamin B12!

5 comments :

Anonymous said...

Vitamin B12 should be taken in the form of methylcobalamin not cyanocobalamin. Vitamin B9 should be taken as 5-MTHF or methyltetrahydrofolate not as synthetic folic acid.

Charlotte Parker said...

For those struggling with B12 deficiency, I recently heard about a new alternative to the injections. Has anyone heard of it, it's called Eligen B12? Apparently it is the first and only true alternative to the intramuscular injection. I recently read that it works as well as the IM injection even if you don't have intrinsic factor (so even if you don't have normal gut absorption). It’s a once daily pill that apparently it came out a month or two ago. Might want to check out their site or ask your doctor if you're interested

Pete Watt said...

Hi, what are your thoughts on methylcobalamin rather than cyanocobalamin? Seems like there are some pretty strong arguments in favor of the former (Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin), so that might be worth mentioning or doing an article on? Apart from that, great post! Loads of really good info, thanks! :)

Life Extension said...


Pete Watt - Methylcobalamin is a preferable source of vitamin B12 when it comes to lowering homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a byproduct of metabolism that increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

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