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B12: The New Star in the Vitamin Universe

Posted Oct 27 2008 3:14pm
Recently we've been hearing (and I've been writing) a whole lot of amazing things about vitamin D, which is turning out to be one of the most "underrated" vitamins on the planet. Now get ready to hear a lot about another vitamin that's about to be "discovered" by the media: Vitamin B12.

Look, these vitamins have been around since vitamins have been discovered. They're not new. But what happens is that the research mounts, people begin to pay attention, and slowly but surely a critical mass of intelligent folks in the health business realizes that this stuff is really important and amazing- and we're not getting enough of it.

Which is what's happening now with vitamin B12.

Many epidemiological studies have indicated that low levels of vitamin B12 are commonly associated with several ailments (many of which affect older people) like Alzheimer's, dementia, frailty, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and even some cancers. For example, the famous Framingham study of 2,576 adults living in Massachusetts linked low blood levels of vitamin B12 to bone loss (in both men and women). And a study published this year of 107 people over 60 who were followed for five years linked low levels of B12 to shrinkage of the brain.

Here's the thing- in many studies, symptoms were seen with B12 levels just slightly below normal, or in some cases well above the level that causes anemia, the most famous B12 deficiency disease.

Once again, it's turning out that minimal levels of a vitamin- the levels known to prevent a specific deficiency disease- are very far from the optimal levels.

Vitamin B12 is needed in every cell in the body. It's water soluble, so you can't take "too much". And we absorb it poorly and probably don't get enough of it. Read on to see why.

Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal foods (sorry, my vegan friends but it's the truth). To be assimilated it has to first be separated from the protein that contains it (like meat or fish) by stomach acid. It then binds to a compound called "intrinsic factor". The problems are threefold:

  1. many people (especially vegetarians) are not eating animal protein;
  2. m any people do not make enough stomach acid, or they use antacids
  3. many people don't make enough (or any) intrinsic factor. This is especially true once we hit forty.

Often, vitamin B12 deficiency doesn't show up for years. And it can influence depression, energy and performance, not to mention a whole host of degenerative diseases. Vegetarians (and vegans) especially must take supplements, and in my opinion, most everyone else would benefit as well.

Because of the limiting factor of stomach acid and intrinsic factor, many people prefer to get B12 in injections or take B12 as a liquid sublingually, so it bypasses the "gut". You can also take B12 in a small capsule. It's inexpensive and great insurance. I recommend you take it with folic acid, because the combination has been shown to lower levels of a nasty toxic inflammatory compound in your body called homocysteine.

Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. But it's been shown that the more "potent" and effective form to use in supplements is a kind of "turbo" vitamin B12 called methylcobalamin. Make sure to always use supplements of methylcobalamin. And remember also that to make any kind of difference you need to take a dose of at least 1000 mcg. (And It's perfectly OK if you skip a day from time to time).

How to Get a Free Bottle of B12 in November

For the month of November 2008 I will include 1 free bottle of vitamin B12 ($11.40 value) with any vitamin store order over $99. You don't need to add the product to your cart, I will simply toss it in your box as it goes out the door. (Unless you specify "b12 capsules" during order I will include the liquid form.)

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