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Vitamin B12: What You Should Know

Sources, Benefits, Forms, Dosage 

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is one of the thirteen essential vitamins. Essential vitamins need to be present in the diet because the human body cannot make the nutrients on its own, or in sufficient amounts to sustain normal and healthy bodily functions.1 Vitamin B12 is considered an essential vitamin due to its many physiological health benefits, and along with being essential it is also water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins like the eight B vitamins and Vitamin C dissolve in water and are not stored in the liver or fatty-tissue like with fat-soluble vitamins.1 Since water-soluble vitamins are easily flushed out of the body it is uncommon to develop toxic side effects.

Benefits of Vitamin B12 – There are many

Vitamin B12 was the last B vitamin that was discovered.1 Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA synthesis, neurological function, red blood cell development, and like other B vitamins the allowance for certain fatty acids and amino acids to be used for energy production.1,2 In addition to energy production, some research suggests Vitamin B12 may also boost energy and performance.2

Vitamin B12 and the B vitamin, folate, are involved in the metabolism of the amino acid homocysteine in another amino acid methionine.1 Without Vitamin B12, homocysteine levels would accumulate which can cause health conditions such as folate deficiency or cardio vascular disease.1,2

As Vitamin B12 takes part to lower homocysteine levels it is also thought to have an effect on the prevention of cognitive decline such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.3 High homocysteine levels are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as inadequate intake of Vitamin B12.3

Forms of Vitamin B12 – Which is best?

Vitamin B12 contains the mineral cobalt, so it is also called cobalamin.1,2 Forms of Vitamin B12 include methylcobalamin, deoxyadenosylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin. and cyanocobalamin.2 The form methylcobalamin is the active and main circulating form of Vitamin B12 in humans.4

Cyanocobalamin is the form that is most commonly found in nutrition supplements.2 For absorption, the body needs to convert this form into one of the active vitamin forms which is either methylcobalamin or 5-deoxyandenosylcobalamin.2

Sources of Vitamin B12 – From food and nutrition supplements

Vitamin B12 is produced by microorganisms, such as fungi and bacteria, rather than made by mammals, birds, or plants.1,4 Because humans do not make this essential vitamin it is available as a nutrition supplement, fortified into foods, and only naturally present in some food sources.2 The food sources that do contain Vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, clams, dairy products, nutritional yeast products, meat, salmon, poultry, and eggs.1,6 The Vitamin B12 content that is found in animal dietary sources is due to the microorganisms present in the animal’s environment or gastrointestinal tract.1

When Vitamin B12 is attached to a protein food source, acids and enzymes must separate it so the body can absorb the nutrient. After separation the free Vitamin B12 has to attach to a different protein, intrinsic factor, that is produced by the stomach for absorption.1 If a person’s stomach does not produce adequate intrinsic factor protein there is a risk for deficiency.1 After intrinsic factor and Vitamin B12 separate, the vitamin attaches to another protein, which finally delivers the micronutrient to the body’s tissues.1

 Vitamin B12 is also found in nutrition supplements. The form most commonly used is cyanocobalamin, however, other forms of Vitamin B12 can be used in supplements too.2 For example, Healthycell® Pro uses the active form of Vitamin B12 which is methylcobalamin.

Recommended daily dose of Vitamin B12 – What physicians advise

The recommended daily dose for nutrients is unique to a person’s age, gender, and other personal factors. The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) established a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Vitamin B12 as a reference to meet the needs of healthy individuals. The RDA for Vitamin B12 for healthy adults is 2.4 mcg (micrograms) per day for both men and women.

Recommended Dietary Allowance
(RDA) of Vitamin B12
Infants (0 – 12 months) 0.4 – 0.5 mcg/day
Children (1 – 8 years) 0.9 – 1.2 mcg/day
Adolescents (9 – 18 years) 1.8 – 2.4 mcg/day
Adults (19+ years) 2.4 mcg/day
Pregnant and Lactating Women 2.6 – 2.8 mcg/day

Table 1: Daily Vitamin B12 Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) to Meet the Needs of Healthy Individuals2

Certain populations may need to be more mindful when evaluating their Vitamin B12 needs. It is suggested that the elder population above the age of 50 is recommended to opt for Vitamin B12 fortified foods or supplements even though their RDA remains 2.4 mcg/day.1 Also, pregnant and nursing mothers need to ensure they receive adequate amounts of Vitamin B12, otherwise they risk birthing an infant that may be effected with neurological issues.2

Individuals using Metformin to treat diabetes or proton pump inhibitors medications such as Prilosec® or Prevacid® to treat gastrointestinal conditions may stop the body from optimally absorbing Vitamin B12.2 With any particular medication or health condition it is always best to consult with your primary healthcare provider before taking the Healthycell® products or any nutrition supplement.

Vitamin B12 toxicity – generally non-toxic

As Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin it is easily flushed out of the body. Since it not stored in fat cells of fatty tissue it does not have any known toxic effects. As Vitamin B12 is considered non-toxic a maximum daily consumption level that may cause an adverse event, or a tolerable upper intake level (UL) has not been established.1

Vitamin B12 deficiency, symptoms, and people at risk

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a more common nutrient deficiency, especially amongst the older population.1 This commonality is typically due to an inadequate diet, and digestion and absorption issues.Vegans, vegetarians, and infants of a vegan or vegetarian are another group of people that are at an increased risk for Vitamin B12deficiency as this nutrient is naturally absent from most plant food sources.2,4 Other populations who are also at risk of developing a deficiency include those who are anemic, malnourished and individuals with malabsorption or gastrointestinal disorders.2 People with pernicious anemia , an autoimmune disease in which the stomach produced protein intrinsic factor is destroyed have hindered Vitamin B12 absorption, and in turn must receive injections of Vitamin B12.1,2

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include anemia, numbness in extremities, fatigue, memory loss, sleep difficulty, and neurological issues.1 Vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly misdiagnosed as folate deficiency, and can have life threatening consequences when certain symptoms, such as the neurological issues do receive proper medical treatment.1

Vitamin B12 in Healthycell® Pro – Only the best form

The type of Vitamin B12 really matters to your health. Healthycell® uses only the best form of Vitamin B12, which is methylcobalamin. The dosage of Vitamin B12 in Healthycell® Pro is 100 mcg in the morning formula and 20 mcg in the evening formula, for a daily dose of 120 mcg, satisfying 2,000% of the Daily Value (%DV). The dosage of Vitamin B12 in Healthycell® is 120 mcg in the morning formula and 6 mcg in the evening formula, for a daily dose of 126 mcg, for 2,100% of the Daily Value (%DV). Nutrition supplement labeling and food labeling guidelines use Reference Daily Intake (RDI) as the standard for dosage.

References

1. McGuire, Michelle, PhD, and Kathy Beerman A., PhD. “Chapter 10

Water-Soluble Vitamins.” Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals

to Food. 2nd ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. 464-466. Print.

2. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet:

Vitamin B12.”National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health

and Human Services, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.

3. Clarke R, Birks J, Nexo E, Ueland PM, Schneede J, Scott J, et al. Low vitamin

B-12 status and risk of cognitive decline in older adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;

86:1384-91.

4. Brasaemle, Dawn, PhD. “Folate Lecture.” Rutgers University – Vitamin B12.

New Brunswick. 2015. Lecture

5. Brasaemle, Dawn, PhD. “Folate Lecture.” Rutgers University – Folate. New

Brunswick. 2015. Lecture

6. Marcason, Wendy, RDN. “What Are B-Vitamins and Folate?” Ear Right.

Academy ofNutrition and Dietetics, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

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