Why do we need optimal levels of Vitamin B12?


Vitamin B12 is essential for multiple biochemical process of human body. This is why we need optimal levels of it. But B12 doesn’t work in isolation. These are some key aspects about B Vitamins in general:

1. B vitamins perform a “symphony” in the body.
Typically we cite 8 as vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12. Increasingly, choline (often called B4) is included in this list as well. Carnitine too (sometimes called B20). Myo-inositol is sometimes called B8, but it’s not a true vitamin.
2. Especially important as enzyme cofactors or precursors throughout the body, ATP synthesis, antioxidant function, blood cell synthesis, methylation, and stress management. B vitamins are water-soluble and not appreciably stored in the body (except B12). Widely present in various foods.
3. Supplementing with a “B complex” to prevent depletion/competition is sometimes necessary. Start “low n’ slow” for at least the first week or two as it will notably fuel hormone, neurotransmitter, and detoxification pathways. Always ask your health practitioner first.
4. Especially needed by people with high, chronic stress (“type A’s”), toxicity, estrogen overload/dominance, and/or those with metabolic or mitochondrial dysfunction.

Here are some relevant aspects about Vitamin B12 in particular:

1. Critical nutrient for every cell for methylation and mitochondria function, e.g., nerve health (myelin sheath), circulation, and detoxification.
2. In tandem with B9, makes red blood cells small and agile (otherwise, macrocytic anemia) to promote circulation in smaller capillaries (otherwise, numbness, tingling, neurological issues). But <30% of inadequate B12 cases present with macrocytic anemia (e.g., elevated MCV).
3. Neurological manifestation of insufficiency may appear first e.g., memory loss, confusion, delirium, anxiety, aphasia, unsteady gait.
4. Usually supplements come in the synthetic and inexpensive cyanocobalamin form. But the body must convert to adenosyl- and methyl- forms of B12 for various tissues. Always ask your health practitioner first.
5. Plants do not contain cobalamin because they have no cobalamin-dependent enzymes. “B12” analogues found in algae are not consistently proven bioavailable enough to address B12 deficiency. Vegan diets need fortified foods or supplements.
6. The adenosyl- form is what is used within the mitochondria, and intracellular deficiency of this form drives up methylmalonic acid (MMA).

What does it mean to have Insufficient Vitamin B12?

• Most common causes are low ingestion (think of people with vegetarian/vegan or very poor diets) or poor digestion (hypochlorhydria) and/or absorption (e.g., SIBO, persistent diarrhea).
• Depletion also caused by excessive alcohol, nicotine, regular use of several medications (e.g., metformin, PPIs and all acid- suppressing medications, and gout medication Colchicine), and certain genetic SNPs (e.g., MTR, MTRR).
Vitamin B12 requires binding with intrinsic factor (IF) from the stomach for absorption in small intestines. Pernicious anemia is autoimmune damage to parietal cells and intrinsic factor. Sufficient stomach acid mobilizes B12 from food to allow IF binding.
Food sources primary include animal proteins e.g., beef liver, seafoods, dairy, eggs, fish, milk, and poultry.

I hope this information helps you and please let me know if you would like to learn more about B12 and how to maintain optimal levels.

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