Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin) Deficiencies, Excesses and Recommendations
Vitamin b-12 is essential for human health and included in nearly every multivitamin. It helps make red blood cells, is necessary for the production of neurotransmitters and for proper nerve function. It also helps maintain normal levels of homocysteine in the blood.
B-12 appears in several different forms. Adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin naturally occur in food, and are the only two biologically active forms of b-12 in the body.
Other forms, commonly used to fortify foods and in manufacturing supplements must be converted to a biologically active form by the body before it can be used. Methylcobalamin is the only neurologically active form of vitamin b-12.
What Could Happen If I Don’t Get Enough?
- Fatigue, weakness.
- Numbness or tingling in hands or feet.
- Depression, difficulty thinking, or memory loss.
- Pernicious anemia, or other anemias caused by b-12 deficiency.
B-12 deficiency is not always the result of inadequate intake of vitamin b-12. It can also come as a consequence of:
- Malabsorption due to advanced age.
- Heartburn medications (proton pump inhibitors).
- Impaired digestion due to chronic stomach inflammation, or other gastrointestinal issues.
What Could Happen If I Get Too Much?
Vitamin b-12 is thought to be non-toxic since excess b-12 is eliminated from the body when we pee. Keep in mind that consistent, elevated blood levels of the vitamin may cause:
A recent study demonstrated an association between long term high doses of vitamin b-6 and b-12 and increased lung cancer risk among male smokers. This information alone doesn’t mean that b-12 causes cancer.
Add fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry to your regular diet.
Since there are no known plant sources of vitamin B12, if you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, you can obtain some B12 from foods by eating fortified grains, cereals, or nutritional yeast.
Little Change Recommended Supplements
If you choose to take a supplement, we generally recommend using a brand that submits to independent, third-party testing, or has been independently tested and approved by consumerlabs.com.
Potential Life Enhancements
The following information is in reference to the methylcobalamin form of vitamin B-12.
- Pain relief. Methylcobalamin promotes the regeneration of injured nerves, and appears to alleviate lower back pain, diabetic neuropathy and neuralgia.R
- Mood. B-12 seems to reduce the likelihood of relapse in people who have experienced depression.
- Memory. Since methylcobalamin is neuroactive, and poor B-12 status is associated with dementia, some people supplement with methylcobalamin in hopes to prevent age related memory problems.
- Sleep. Higher B-12 levels were correlated with better sleep quality and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. R
- Improving quality of life in people with neurological symptoms. According to some case reports and limited clinical data, high dose methylcobalamin was helpful to people with Bell’s Palsy, MS, and some other neurological issues. R R.