Vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is the most complex of all vitamins.

It’s the general name for a group of compounds called cobalamins.

Vitamin B12 comes in different forms.

Not all forms are equally effective.

The most effective form is methylcobalamin.

But, the most common form is cyanocobalamin, because it’s easier to manufacture and therefore less expensive.

Unfortunately, the very common and inexpensive cyanocobalamin form is difficult for your body to absorb, and the small amount that is absorbed usually doesn’t find its way into your cells.

Your liver does convert a small amount of cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin, but you need a lot more than that to carry out the normal functions of vitamin B12.

Because of this, a lot of people who take large doses of cyanocobalamin continue to be deficient in the vitamin.

They often resort to vitamin B12 injections.

Vitamin B12 deficiency caused by malabsorption is common in the elderly.

A simple alternative is to take the methylcobalamin form, either swallowed in tablet form or sublingually.

Methylcobalamin helps with growth and protection of your nervous system.

Larger quantities are needed to protect against neurological deterioration as we age.

One study found daily supplementation with 6 mcg per day (the DRI is 2.4 mcg) appeared to be enough to correct deficiencies in women aged 41-75.

Vitamin B12, in the methylcobalamin form, may help prevent Parkinson’s disease and slow the progression in those who already have it.

The vitamin has been shown to reverse the symptoms of neurological diseases like Bell’s palsy, and shows promise in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.

Very few things are known to have any impact on regenerating damaged nerves in humans.

But, a 1994 study suggested methylcobalamin could increase the production of proteins that help regenerate nerves.

The study showed very high doses of methylcobalamin caused nerve regeneration in rats.

No human studies on nerve regeneration are known to date, but as new research is reported we’ll let you know about it.

Methylcobalamin plays an important role in cardiovascular function also.

Vitamin B12 is also needed to prevent anemia.

It’s also needed for proper digestion, absorption of foods, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.

It helps with cell formation and cellular longevity.

In addition, vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage, maintains fertility, and promotes normal growth and development.

A study in 2004 found women who gave birth to children with spina bifida had vitamin B12 levels 21% lower than those of mothers who had healthy children.

Vitamin B12 is also linked to the production of acetylcholine, which helps with memory and learning.

Vitamin B12 supplementation has been shown to improve sleep patterns, allowing for more restful and refreshing sleep.

Deficiency can cause abnormal gait, bone loss, chronic fatigue, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, dizziness, drowsiness, enlargement of your liver, eye disorders, hallucinations, headaches (including migraines), inflammation of the tongue, irritability, labored breathing, memory loss, moodiness, nervousness, neurological damage, palpitations, pernicious anemia, ringing in your ears, and spinal-cord degeneration.

Researchers recommend everyone with unexplained anemia and/or neurological symptoms, as well as the elderly and those with intestinal disorders, have blood levels measured.

In addition, those with cognitive impairment may want to be tested for low B12 levels.

Strict vegetarians must remember they need vitamins B12 supplementation, because this vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal tissues.

Although strict vegetarians may not see any signs of deficiency for a while – your body can store up to 5 years’ worth of vitamin B12 – signs eventually will develop.


The largest amounts of vitamin B12 are found in meats, brewer’s yeast, clams, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, milk and dairy products, and seafood.

Vitamin B12 isn’t found in many vegetables; it’s available only from sea vegetables, like dulse, kelp, kombu, bladderwrack, and nori, and soybeans and soy products.

It’s also present in the herbs alfalfa and hops.


Anti-gout medications, anticoagulant drugs, and potassium supplements may block the absorption of vitamin B12.

Taking vitamin B12 in sublingual tablets, which are dissolved under your tongue, are a good option for those who have difficulty absorbing the vitamin.

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