Vital Vitamin -- Oral B12 Equivalent to Injections
Reprinted by permission from Bill Faloon of The Life Extension Foundation
According to the recent data, 2,000 micrograms (2 mg) per day of oral B12 is necessary. The oral version works as well as injections, with the added feature of maintaining high levels in the blood over time. The study showed that after a month, the blood levels of the vitamin in people receiving injections dropped and stayed at a plateau, whereas blood levels of those receiving oral B12 continued to rise.
B12 Lowers Homocysteine
Interestingly, some of the patients did not respond to supplemental vitamin B12. It was discovered that they were also deficient in folate (folic acid), and until folate was replaced, their homocysteine remained elevated. Vitamin B12 and folate work synergistically in the chemical reactions that recycle homocysteine back to methionine in the methylation cycle. It is also interesting to note that participants in the study with both B12 and folate deficiencies had several health problems including those related to alcohol consumption. This is probably due to the vitamin's role in methylation.
"Intrinsic factor" is a type of protein that is secreted by the stomach to help the body absorb B12. Older people produce less intrinsic factor, and are thus more vulnerable to B 12 deficiency. In the study mentioned at the beginning of this article, high-dose sublingual B12 was absorbed as well as injectable. No supplemental intrinsic factor was given. Insufficient stomach acid can be the result of low intrinsic factor. Injected B12 has traditionally been used because it bypasses the absorption problem.
Different Forms of Vitamin B12
It has been documented that the level of B12 decreases every year with age. They also have less SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) - the substance required to methylate cobalamin or cyanocobalamin (the kind of B12 found in most tablets/capsules and/or multi-formulas) to methylcobalamin, the active form. Methylcobalamin is already methylated -- it doesn't require SAMe.
There appears to be something else causing B12 deficiency in older people that researchers don't yet understand. In a Dutch study, researchers found that about 25% of the participants had low vitamin B 12. But gut problems only accounted for 28% of those cases. The cause in the remaining 72% was a mystery. Researchers do know that more people may be deficient than currently appreciated. When researchers at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Oklahoma used modified criteria for B12 deficiency (elevations in homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, plus serum B 12 up to 300 pg/mL -- the norm is usually 200), they uncovered twice as many people with B12 deficiency than would have been detected by serum values alone.
Elevated homocysteine levels (a marker of poor health) is found in many people with compromised health. When treated with 1000 micrograms (1mg) of vitamin B 12 (methylcobalamin) daily for three weeks, homocysteine levels dropped significantly. Although the study didn't follow the patients long enough to see the effects of long-term treatment, the condition of the patients' blood vessels will likely improve as the levels of homocysteine are reduced, as homocysteine is extremely toxic.
B12 and Sleep Support
Testing for B12 Deficiency
The neurologically active form of vitamin B 12 (methylcobalamin), is the recommended form to consume. The potential benefits are well-worth the modest price. It is the methylcobalamin form of B12 that has been used in most European and Japanese studies showing efficacy. The liver converts about 1% of ingested cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin, but it is far more efficient to dissolve a good tasting methylcobalamin lozenge in the mouth for immediate assimilation into the brain.
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