Vitamin B12 is a cobalt-containing porphyrin called cobalamin.
The bacteria in our gut synthesise B12 otherwise the majority of B12 is sourced from animal foods including red meats and dairy products.
Food sources of Vitamin B12 include: organ meats (liver, kidney, heart), egg yolk, salmon, sardines, oysters, clams and miso.
For this reason some people with vegetarian/vegan diets may be at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency although it is now known that B12 co-enzymes are widely available in plant foods, particularly nuts, green veges and seeds.
When a deficiency occurs it is suspected that the reason is often poor digestion and absorption of foods rather than a primary deficiency of the vitamin itself, although this is quite likely to be the case where the entire diet is deficient in fresh foods.
There are a number of reasons why poor digestion/absorption occurs, the most common reason being poor secretion of intrinsic factor (IF). Intrinsic factor is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach mucosa, and is required for the absorption of the vitamin in the small intestine. Poor secretion of intrinsic factor can be brought about by a low acid level (hypochlorydia) in the stomach. Hypochlorydia can be brought about by the prolonged use of Proton Pump Inhibitors such as omeprazole.
For these reasons elderly people in whom the production of HCL, pepsin and the intrinsic factor are declining may also need supplementation.
Alcohol can reduce the absorption of dietary cobalamin and can also interfer with the storage of vitamin B12.
Smoking tobacco is also said to reduce storage of B12.
Vitamin B12 is stored in our liver and kidneys and is necessary for several metabolic pathways in the central nervous system.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with a risk of depression (especially in older women), with risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cardiovascular disease, high homocysteine levels and diabetic complications and also with memory loss, mood swings, excessive tiredness and lack of enthusiasm.
There is also reason to think that vitamin B12 deficiency may affect the auditory pathways and lead to increased incidence of tinnitus.
It is also vital for maintaining methylation reactions that repair DNA.
Myelin, a protein which constitutes the myelin sheath around nerve cells is created and maintained by methylation reactions that depend on vitamin B12. Degeneration of this protein causes serious neurological problems as in Multiple Sclerosis.
Neuropathies are strange and sometimes very painful sensations caused by the degeneration of nerves. Vitamin B12 can be very effective in easing this condition. It is also my own observation that people with vitamin B12 deficiency tend to have a lower than usual pain threshold (often complaining of back ache or other aches and pains) and
at times very scratchy/itchy eyes.
Vitamin B12 and Folate also have an important role in reducing homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels are implicated in the occurrence of heart attack and stroke.
It has also been used to treat conditions such as tennis elbow and shingles.
Pernicious anaemia is a specific type of megloblastic anaemia (associated with vitamin B12
deficiency)which occurs as a result of vitamin B12 malabsorption due to
intrinsic factor deficiency.
As healthy bowel flora also add to the body’s vitamin B12 production, if bowel flora is
compromised in any way then B12 levels can be also compromised.
B12 levels in the blood do not always accurately specify the need for supplementation and many people will benefit from B12 supplementation even if a blood test shows their B12 levels to be so-called ‘normal’.
Vitamin B12 is not well-absorbed from a B complex or a multivitamin tablet and ideally needs to be given by injection. However, capsulated or tableted sublingual forms and appear to work reasonably well if taken on an empty stomach to aid absorption.
In this clinic I often prescribe a formula which is a combination of B12 and Potassium Iodide (Tracel – TM). This formula was originally made for persons with joint pain and reduced mobility but I have found over the years that it works extremely well for many conditions, is well absorbed and well tolerated. I have noticed that while using this preparation most people will experience a huge improvement in energy,
enthusiasm for life, general well being and a lessening of anxiety.
Go to On-line shop for Tracel
Up-dated Jan 2017