Note from Carolyn:
This is good information about both the sources and methods of taking B-12 supplements. You don't have to resort to shots, there are sublingual forms of the good form of B-12 available. I keep one handy for periods of low energy, but based on this and a strong family history of Alzheimer's I may start taking it every day. I make sure I get plenty of the B vitamins. I do this with Essential Source B12 Complex
. Through studies like this one we can push back the onset of Alzheimer's and still live a long and productive life. That is my goal!
Article continues ...
One of the pitfalls of pursuing a healthy diet is that we are sometimes blind to nutrients we may be missing. And in the world of healthy eating, one of the most common nutrient deficiencies involves vitamin B-12, a crucial nutrient for nerve health and the construction of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is especially common among vegetarians and vegans, but it's also surprisingly common in meat eaters, too. Why? Because vitamin B-12 can only be absorbed in the small intestine, and due to common intestinal ailments, even many meat eaters who consume high levels of B-12 are unable to absorb it in their gut.
This leads to a series of seemingly "mystery" health symptoms that actually have a simple common cause: Vitamin B-12 deficiency!
Symptoms of B-12 deficiency
B-12 deficiency is shockingly widespread. Studies now show that up to 40% of the population
may be deficient in vitamin B-12 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7...
Here are some of the most common symptoms of deficiency (do you experience any of these?):
* Chest pain or shortness of breath
* Fatigue or unexplained weakness
* Dizziness, trouble with balance, and fainting
* Confusion, memory loss or dementia
* Coldness, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
* Slow reflexes or diminished nervous system function
* Pale skin or yellowing of the skin
* Sore mouth and tongue
... in addition, vitamin B-12 deficiency can actually cause brain shrinkage
, according to a University of Oxford study (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7...
). Although more work needs to be done, research is already suggesting a link between vitamin B-12 deficiency and Alzheimer's.
If you (or someone you know) shows any of the symptoms listed above, I urge you to immediately investigate vitamin B-12
and determine if a deficiency in this nutrient may be causing your symptoms!
Again, vitamin B-12 deficiency is especially common in vegans and vegetarians because typical vitamin B-12 sources (meats, yogurt, etc.) are simply not present in their diets. But even meat eaters can be deficient in B-12 due to poor digestion. This is especially true for older people who suffer a diminished ability to absorb nutrients in their small intestine.
In addition, diabetes medications and even pain pills can interfere with B-12 absorption, and intestinal parasites can also strongly block its absorption in the gut.
Solutions for vitamin B-12
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! 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.Action item
: 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!
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
which we'll talk about below.
As Wikipedia explains: "A common synthetic form of the vitamin, cyanocobalamin, does not occur in nature, but is used in many pharmaceuticals and supplements, and as a food additive, because of its lower cost. In the body it is converted to the physiological forms, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, leaving behind the cyanide..."
Removing the cyanide molecule from the vitamin and then flushing it out of your body requires using up so-called "methyl groups" of molecules in your body that are needed to fight things like homocysteine (high levels cause heart disease). By taking low-quality cyanobalamin, you're actually stealing methyl groups from your body
and making it do more work at the biochemical level. This uses up substances such as glutathione that are often in short supply anyway, potentially worsening your overall health situation rather than helping it. This is one of the reasons why low-grade vitamins may actually be worse for your body than taking nothing at all!
Cyanocobalamin, in summary, is a low-grade, low-quality and slightly toxic (cyanide) form
of vitamin B-12 that's used by all the cheap vitamin manufacturers. I recommend avoiding it completely. It won't kill you to take it, of course, but there's a better solution for B-12.
The better choice: 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
As explained by Ed Sharpe:"The coenzyme form of vitamin B12 is known as methylcobalamin or methyl B12. It's the only form of vitamin B12 which can directly participate in homocysteine metabolism. In addition, converting homocysteine to methionine via methyl B12 generates an increased supply of SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine), the body's most important methyl donor."
Why 99% of vitamin B-12 supplements are wasted
Taking vitamin B-12 as an oral dose is largely a waste of money. As much as 99% of what you swallow is not even absorbed... it's just passed through your body. (http://www.health101.org/art_methyl...
There are really only three methods for absorbing vitamin B-12 that reliably work:
#1) B-12 injections.
#2) Sublingual absorption.
#3) Skin absorption.
B-12 injections obviously require injections from a trained medical professional, so few people pursue this route. Sublingual absorption is a viable route, but nearly all the sublingual B-12 products use the cyanocobalamin
form of the vitamin (with the cyanide molecule).
But fortunately we carry two forms of sublingual B-12.