Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that contains essential mineral elements. In the human diet, vitamin B12 is supplied primarily by animal byproducts, since plant foods (with minor exceptions) don’t contain it. It is unique among water-soluble vitamins because it can be stored in the body.
Unlike other water-soluble nutrients, vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, kidney, and other body tissues. As a result, signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may not show themselves until after 5-6 years of poor dietary intake. Other agents that may deplete Vitamin B12 stores include anticoagulent drugs, antigout medications, laxatives, alcohol, aspirin, antibiotics, diuretics, antacids, caffeine, estrogen, sleeping pills, contraceptives, and cooking temperatures.
Vitamin B12 can form and regenerate red blood cells, thereby preventing anemia, help break down the amino acid homocysteine thereby lowering the risk of heart disease, increase energy, maintain a healthy nervous system by nourishing the myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves, help the body to properly utilize fats, carbohydrates, and protein, relieve irritability and improve concentration, memory, and balance. It can help protect against smoking-induced cancer, and it is also useful in cases of depression.
The best natural sources of Vitamin B12 are fish, beef, pork, eggs, milk and cheese.
Although it is popular to inject Vitamin B12, injection is not necessary. The most common form of Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) in an appropriate dosage, even in the absence of other intrinsic factors, results in effective elevations of vitamin B12. An editorial which appeared in the January 2, 1991 issue of JAMA states that oral therapy of Cyanocobalamin produces reliable and effective treatment when given in sufficient quantities. In the body, Cyanocobalamin is converted into Methylcobalamin. Some experts feel that this may be a more absorbable form. If the body is not able to make this conversion due to poor metabolism, Methylcobalamin may be used or a higher dose of Cyanocobalamin. One of the problems with many of the Cyanocobalamin products on the market is that they have been highly diluted, many times with di-calcium phosphate. Therefore look for a Vitamin B12 that contains fully concentrated Cyanocobalamin.
In using higher doses it should be noted that there have been no cases reported of vitamin B12 toxicity, even on megadose regimens.
Earl Mindell’s Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century. By Earl Mindell, Warner Books, (c) 1999.
Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. By Michael Murray, N.D. Prima Publishing. (c) 1996.
Doctor’s Guide to Natural Medicine. By Paul Barney, M.D. Woodland Publishing Co. (c) 1998.