Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin or cyanocobalamin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that has many important functions in the body. In fact, it plays an important role in the function of basically every cell in the body. It acts as a cofactor in DNA synthesis, and fatty acid and amino acids metabolism. It is especially important in the brain – its part in myelin synthesis makes it essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system.
The only organisms that produce vitamin B12 are archaea and bacteria. Vitamin B12 cannot be synthesized in the human body, therefore it must be taken through consumption of animal-based products, such as meat, eggs, and shellfish. However, some people do not get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, which must be treated with supplementation. Thus, many improvements have been made in the bioavailability of supplemented vitamin B12 through the use of high-quality liposomal vitamin B12.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is one of eight in the class of B vitamins, and it is the most structurally complex and the largest of them. It exists in several different forms and contains the mineral cobalt – hence the name cobalamin.
Vitamin B12 has many functions. It acts as a coenzyme in many enzyme-catalyzed reactions, which means that its presence is necessary for enzymes to exert their function. These enzymes include isomerases, dehalogenases, and methyltransferases. Vitamin B12 is a crucial component in biochemical reactions involved in fat and protein metabolism, myelin synthesis and DNA synthesis.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur due to many diseases. It can be a symptom of another underlying disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis, autoimmune diseases, celiac disease, and others. This fact allows the changes in B12 levels to be used as a marker that aids to the diagnosis of certain diseases.
The elderly are also at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency since absorption in the intestine declines with age. Keep reading to find out more details about the causes of vitamin B12 deficiency.
What are the sources of vitamin B12?
The only natural sources of vitamin B12 are animals products, including meat, fish, clams, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Animals store vitamin B12 in their muscles and the liver, therefore these products provide the best source of the vitamin. Some animals also pass it into their eggs and milk. However, the bioavailability of the vitamin from these sources is significantly lower (under 9%).
It is true that some bacteria in the human digestive system produce vitamin B12, however, this production occurs in the colon whereas the absorption occurs in the small intestine, therefore the endogenously produced B12 cannot be absorbed.
Plants, fruits, and vegetables are not capable of producing vitamin B12, hence vegans and vegetarians are susceptible to developing a B12 deficiency. Thus, they are advised to take fortified foods or dietary supplements.
In terms of bioavailability, liposomal vitamin B12 is still the best source of vitamin B12.
What is Vitamin B12 used for?
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 is most commonly used for vitamin B12 deficiency, which is characterized by a large number of conditions. Considering all its functions, the lack of vitamin B12 can lead to the development of neuropathies, central nervous system disorders, and megaloblastic anemia.
In fact, vitamin B12 is first discovered as a result of a research on pernicious anemia, a type of megaloblastic anemia. It is since used as a marker for diagnosis of pernicious anemia.
Since vitamin B12 supports brain and nerve health, it can also be used for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Moreover, methylcobalamin is well known to normalize the levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which is beneficial due to the fact that high homocysteine levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
In the US, hydroxocobalamin is approved by the FDA as a treatment for cyanide poisoning. It is given intravenously in large amounts, where it acts as a binding site for the toxic cyanide ion.
Diagnosis of other diseases
Unless a person is taking regular or liposomal vitamin B12 supplements, high levels of vitamin B12 can also be a marker in certain diseases. It is important to remember that vitamin B12 is not a cause of these diseases, but a manifestation of them, and thereby a helpful marker for diagnosis.
Increased levels of vitamin B12 can be a marker for some liver diseases such as hepatocellular carcinoma, cirrhosis, metastatic liver disease, and hepatitis. Others include hypereosinophilic syndrome and myeloproliferative disorders such as leukemia or polycythemia vera.
In addition, some forms of vitamin B12, specifically methylcobalamin, are known to relieve symptoms of spontaneous pain, tingling, and burning. It can be used for the treatment of neuralgia, lower back pain, and diabetic neuropathy as well.
Furthermore, vitamin B12 can be used to reduce back pain and pain from mouth ulcers.
What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?
It is important to track vitamin B12 levels since a deficiency can potentially cause irreversible brain and nerve damage.
Age is a significant risk factor for vitamin B12 deficiency because of the natural decline of absorption capacity in the intestine with age. Thus, people over the age of 60 commonly develop vitamin B12 deficiency.
Common causes for B12 deficiency also include malabsorption due to a variety of reasons. For example malabsorption caused by disorders that affect the small intestine, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, parasitic infestation and others. Vitamin B12 deficiency is also more commonly developed after gastrectomy and chronic alcoholism, which also lead to a reduced absorption capacity.
Nonetheless, the most common reason for vitamin B12 deficiency is low dietary intake. It is most commonly related to vegetarians, since their plant-based diet does not contain vitamin B12. Babies born by vegetarian mothers can also be affected by B12 deficiency, suffering potential developmental delay and impaired growth.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
A slight reduction in vitamin B12 levels can sometimes have obvious signs, but it may also cause no symptoms. Although, if left untreated, it can cause symptoms such as:
- Weakness or lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Skin paleness
- Numbness or tingling
- Vision loss
- Lack of balance
- Loss of memory
How much vitamin B12 do I need?
According to the US Institute of Medicine, daily requirements for vitamin B12 are 2.4 micrograms per day for both men and women above the age of 14.
There are some special recommendations for groups that may have different requirements. For example, pregnant women are recommended 2.6 micrograms per day, lactating women 2.8 micrograms per day, and infants 0.5 micrograms per day.
On the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) estimates daily dietary requirements for vitamin B12 to be at 4 micrograms a day for adults, 4.5 micrograms per day for pregnant women and 5 micrograms per day for lactating women.
This goes to show that a higher dietary intake of vitamin B12 than recommended should cause no health issues.
As for people whose absorption capacities start to decline with age, the best option for increasing their vitamin B12 intake is liposomal vitamin B12. It is certainly is the most powerful and efficient way to boost B12 levels.
Vitamin B12 supplements are not only recommended but necessary to maintain optimal health. High-quality liposomal technology is capable of providing much higher absorption rate and bioavailability than regular vitamin B12. Keep reading to find out more details on this technology and how it works.
What are liposomes?
Liposomal technology had been discovered a while ago, but recent advancements have enabled its much more versatile use in medicine. Basically, they are used to facilitate the delivery of an active ingredient (drugs, vitamins, supplements…) into the blood via oral administration.
Why are they needed? It is known that oral administration of drugs and supplements has its issues due to its relatively low absorption rates, which sometimes does not provide sufficient bioavailability of the drug in the body, and therefore renders it less effective.
Now if we add a decreased absorption capacity in the gut on top of that (elderly, celiac disease, postgastrectomy, Crohn’s disease), we come across a problem in the regular oral supplementation of vitamin B12.
This problem is solved by the use of liposomal technology.
Liposomes are small spherical particles that contain a phospholipid bilayer membrane. Phospholipids are molecules made of one hydrophilic head and two hydrophobic tails. When they are in an aqueous environment, the tails avoid water (hydrophobic) and turn towards each other, and the heads turn towards water (hydrophilic). This way, a phospholipid bilayer on a cross-section consist of head-tail-tail-head. This bilayer forms a sphere, thereby protecting the tails from water since hydrophilic heads are in direct contact with water.
These spheres are liposomes, which encapsulate an active ingredient in their center and keep it protected from degradation by stomach acids, bile salts, and intestinal enzymes. Furthermore, the phospholipid bilayer of the liposomes closely resemble the membranes of all human cells, which is also a phospholipid bilayer. This enables the cell membrane to naturally fuse with the liposomal membrane and to incorporate it into itself, which releases all the contents of the liposome into the target cell easily and effectively.
The benefits of liposomal technology are most evident inactive ingredients that have very low bioavailability. For instance, glutathione has a bioavailability of just 1-3%, whereas liposomal glutathione has a bioavailability of over 90%. This is the power of the biocompatibility between the liposome and the human cell membrane.
And lastly, it is important to note that liposomes are very versatile in function and quality. They differ in type and size which allows for a precisely targeted and timed delivery of their active ingredients. It also provides a controlled and prolonged release, which is why the liposomal active ingredient can carry out its effects for a much longer period of time than a non-liposomal one.
The quality, of course, is another important aspect of choosing the right product. The factors that determine the quality of the liposomes are stability and added ingredients, which require extensive research, high-quality equipment, and development. We put a lot of dedication and work into our production and development process, and pride ourselves with top quality products, that are the leading products in the liposomal industry today.
Why liposomal vitamin B12?
Liposomal vitamin B12 provides the best possible bioavailability and efficacy of vitamin B12 supplementation. It grants improved absorption, targeted and timed delivery and controlled release. Even smaller amounts of liposomal vitamin B12 are superior to large amounts of non-liposomal B12. This is due to the fact that the body can only absorb limited amounts of vitamin B12 in a certain time frame, and the liposomal timed and delayed vitamin delivery overcomes that problem, making it more efficient.
Choosing liposomal vitamin B12 is a perfect solution for your potential or already diagnosed with
B12 deficiency, or other diseases that are associated with it. Be diligent about your body, and make the right choice!