Vitamin B12 Benefits
Disease and Your Health...
What is the Connection?
Would you like to really understand how vitamin B12 benefits your body? Instead of the usual laundry list of assorted benefits listed without explanation typical of many websites, this information will educate and make sense to you. Information is power... empower yourself now with the knowledge you need to achieve your best natural health.
Ready for the journey? Great. Lets go!
Vitamin B12 is fundamental to protein metabolism and DNA biosynthesis... major metabolic pathways dramatically affecting your health.
Consequently, vitamin B12 benefits are far-reaching... ranging from the formation of healthy red blood cells, generation of energy, control of mood, focus and concentration, protection from degenerative nerve damage that may lead to dementia and Alzheimer's - even potential protection from athersclerosis and cancer
First, lets highlight vitamin B12 benefits and then we will take a closer look at how vitamin B12 works in your body. As a result, you will take away a high level of knowledge that you can actually apply to improve your health! Its all under your control.
Vitamin B12 Benefits You Can Experience
1) Vitamin B12 Regenerates Another Important B Vitamin Called, "Folic Acid" Without B12, Folic Acid Becomes Trapped in Your Body in a Metabolically Useless Form.
2) Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Support Synthesis and Metabolism of Proteins and DNA Biosynthesis.Vitamin B12 Interveigns into These Essential Life Processes at Several Key Steps. For Example...
3) Healthy Red Blood Cells Depend on Vitamin B12 Driven Synthesis of DNA. Without B12, DNA Synthesis Shuts Down, Causing Megaloblastic Anemia. Symptoms Include Fatigue, Lack of Energy, Diarrhea, Nausea, Decreased Appetite, Weak Muscles, Headaches, Tingling Sensations and Sore Tongue.
4) Vitamin B12 Supports Synthesis of the Amino Acid "Methionine" Methionine is a Crucial Building Block of Proteins
5) Vitamin B12 Supports Synthesis of Another Amino Acid Called "SAM-e" SAM-e is Required for Over 100 Enzymatic Reactions Required for Normal Metabolic Activity Within Your Body
6) Vitamin B12 Promotes Activity of Hormones and Neurotransmitters Affecting Your Mood These Include Dopamine, Serotonin and Melatonin
7) Vitamin B12 Helps Reduce Dangerous Levels of"Homocysteine" Homocysteine is Toxic Amino Acid (Protein) Associated with Significant Cardiovascular Risk
8) Vitamin B12 Benefits Help Prevent Irreversible Neurological Impairment Peripheral and Central Nervous System Deterioration due to vitamin B12 deficiency has been Linked to Onset of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
These vitamin B12 benefits are real and tangible. How can a single vitamin produce such a diverse array of benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection to cancer prevention?
Simple! Vitamin B12 benefits are linked by a common pathway in the chemistry of life... a metabolic pathway known as the "carbon shuttle"
Here is How Vitamin B12 Benefits You...
Specifically, vitamin B12 and another important B vitamin called folate are "carbon shuttles", shuttling simple carbon compounds from one molecule to another.
Why is this so important?
Life is based on carbon... carbon forms the "backbone" of biological molecules like proteins, DNA, lipids (fat), and carbohydrates.
And by shuttling simple carbon compounds like the "methyl" ( 1 carbon atom and 3 attached hydrogens-CH3 ) from one molecule to another, vitamin B12 and folate support 2 major pathways of life...
Metabolic Pathways Supported by Folate
and Vitamin B12 Carbon Shuttle
1) DNA Synthesis
2) Synthesis and Metabolism of Proteins
This shuttle or transfer of simple carbon compounds like methyl by vitamins B12 or folate into DNA synthesis or protein metabolism is called the "cycle of single carbon metabolism".
This cycle is vital to your overall health and wellbeing and is an important basis for healthy protein and DNA metabolism. Disruption of this cycle via vitamin B12 deficiency will cause metabolic dysfunction and eventually vitamin B12 deficiency diseases like megaloblastic anemia and neurological impairment.
Vitamin B12 Benefits are Closely
Interwoven With Folate
Vitamin B12 also participates in the cyclic regeneration of a form of folate called "folic acid."
"If vitamin B12 is deficient, folic acid cannot be regenerated and becomes trapped in a metabolically useless form, unable to re-enter the cycle of single carbon metabolism.
This very important inter-dependent relationship between vitamin B12 and folic acid explains how deficiency of either vitamin shuts down the shuttle of carbon into the single carbon cycle, ultimately inhibiting the synthesis of DNA. This has serious consequences and can lead to nervous system damage and a host of other ills.
Are you ready to experience all of the powerful vitamin B12 benefits? Great! Lets point them out as we follow the flow of carbon through the single carbon cycle. Ready? Lets go!
Vitamin B12 Benefits...
Lets Start at the Beginning
Vitamin B12 benefits and the single carbon cycle begins with entry of the B vitamin folate, into the cell. Folic acid is the simplest form of folate and does not yet carry the methyl group, CH3. Once within the cell, folic acid is converted to a more complex form of the vitamin called "tetrahydrofolpterypolyglutamate".
The next step is where the actual shuttle of carbon molecules begins...
In its role as a carbon shuttle, trahydrofolyollpolyglutamate accepts a simple methyl group from an amino acid called "serine" forming another vitamer called "5-10 methylene folate".
Now things get interesting...
The "Carbon Shuttle" Arrives
at a Fork in the Road
The vitamer, 5-10 methylene folate is a "metabolic precursor"... shuttling its carbon down one of two possible metabolic pathways of the carbon cycle, either 1) protein metabolism or 2) DNA synthesis.
Both pathways are vital to your health, misappropriation of carbon into one or both pathways causes metabolic dysfunction and disease...
For example, when B vitamins like vitamin B12 or folic acid are in short supply or deficient, the pathway leading to protein metabolism "competes" with the DNA biosynthetic pathway for available vitamin-carrying carbon molecules. Theoretically, the cell preferentially directs the shuttle of vitamins and carbons into protein metabolism first, for functions absolutely vital to the cell.
This "tug of war" theory suggests DNA synthesis is sacrificed to shunt carbons into the more immediate need of protein metabolism. Consequently, as a result of impaired DNA synthesis, cell division slows way down in the rapidly dividing cells within the bone marrow, producing large multinucleated red blood cells that are unable to efficiently transport oxygen to your tissues.
The resulting anemia called "megaloblastic anemia", a major symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency, is characterized by fatigue, lack of energy, diarrhea, nausea, decreased appetite, weak muscles, headaches, tingling sensations and sore tongue.
Resupplying your body with adequate levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid restores vitamin B12 benefits and normalizes the metabolic flow of carbon into both DNA and protein single carbon cycles, reversing megaloblastic anemia.
But lets head down the road of protein metabolism, because thats where more vitamin B12 benefits enter the picture...
Protein Metabolism and Synthesis...
No Turning Back
Once Down This Road!
Once 5, 10 methylene folate, the immediate precursor to protein metabolism or DNA synthesis, is shunted into the protein metabolic pathway, it is converted to another vitamin called methyl folate...
Methyl folate is the methyl group (CH3) attached to the B vitamin, folate. (methyl + folate).
The conversion of 5, 10 methyl folate to methyl folate is unique because the reaction is "physiologically irreversible". Once methyl folate forms, it cannot go back, effectively locking it inn place until the next step.
Dirct Vitamin B12 Benefits Enter the Picture...
Conversion of Toxic Amino Acid
into Beneficial Amino Acid
The next step after the formation of methyl folate is where vitamin B12 benefits actually enters the picture...
The vitamin, B12 is directly involved in the conversion of a toxic amino acid called "homocyteine" into the beneficial amino acid "methionine"
Specifically, methylfolate shuttles its methyl group to vitamin B12 and B12 in conjunction with the enzyme "methionine synthetase" methylates homocysteine, transforming it into the beneficial amino acid, methionine.
The metabolic conversion of homocysteine into methionine by vitamin B12 is important for a number of reasons....
Vitamin B12 Benefits Help Reduce
Dangerous Cardiovascular Risk
First, homocysteine, an amino acid generated by normal metabolism in your body, is toxic to blood vessel cells (endothelial cells), associated with abnormalities of the blood clotting cascade and causes oxidative stress. Homocysteine is also linked to oxidation of LDL, a potential risk factor for atherioscherosis.
In fact, over 80 studies link high homocysteine levels with common cardiovascular risk factors in the general population. By converting homocysteine to methionine, vitamin B12 helps reduce your circulating blood levels of homocysteine and possibly reduce your risk for atherogenesis.
Vitamin B12 benefits don't stop here...
Methionine is a building block of proteins as well as a precursor of S-adenoslymethionine (SAM-e), universal donor of the methyl group (CH3) to more than 100 enzymatic reactions essential to normal metabolism.
"Methylation" or the transfer of the methyl group from SAM-e to other molecules is how your body controls or regulates many metabolic processes.
For example, the methylation of proteins, DNA, RNA phospholipids and neurotransmitters by SAM-e helps regulate:
1) Protein Function and Metabolism
2) Gene Expression in DNA
3) The activity of Several Hormones and Neurotransmitters affecting Your Mood including Dopamine, Serotonin and Melatonin
4) Maintenance of the Insulative Mylin Sheath Surrounding Your Nerves
In fact, even the development of cancer has been linked to inappropriate methylation. Specifically, methylation of DNA by SAM-e is a natural mechanism your body uses to control the expression of many genes. The undermethylation or "hypomethylation" of DNA caused by a deficiency of SAM-e potentially alters DNA conformation making it more susceptible to strand breakage and therefore mutation causing cancers.
Vitamin B12 and folic acid are inextricably linked to biosynthesis of methionine and SAM-e via homocysteine and are therefore central players maintaining proper physiological levels of SAM-e
Irritable? Depressed? Forgetful?
Vitamin B12 Benefits
and Your Nervous System
Vitamin B12 supports the health of your nervous system. In fact, low levels of B12 cause peripheral and central nervous system damage that is linked to the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Here is how...
Vitamin B12 converts the toxic amino acid, homocysteine to methionine. Methionine is the precursor to SAM-e, a methyl donor to over 100 enzymatic reactions in your body including methylation reactions of the mylin sheath, the fatty, insulative layer surrounding individual nerve fibers.
The mylin sheath insulates and protects nerve fibers, allowing fibers to conduct nerve impulses at rapid rate within your body without interferences.
Demylination or loss of mylin due to vitamin B12 deficiency and loss of SAM-e essentially "short circuits" these fibers. This produces a degenerative "neuropathy" beginning with the peripheral nerves that progressing to the brain and spinal cord. Alzheimer's disease is associated with this progression of events
Vascular dementia and cognitive decline is also linked in several studies to excessive homocysteine levels caused by folic acid and/or vitamin B12 insufficiency
Vitamin B12 Benefits and Alzheimer's?
American Journal of Medicine
Initial neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include, tingling, numbness and feeling of muscle weakness. If symptoms are not corrected, demylination progresses to the deep white matter of the cerebral hemispheres inducing neurophychiatric symptoms such as irritability, memory disturbances, mild depression, apathy and possibly dementia and phychosis.
Once these symptoms develop, unfortunately they are generally not reversible with B vitamin supplementation. Due to increased risk of food-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption as we age, the Food and Nutrition Board recommends adults over the age of 50 meet their vitamin B12 requirements with fortified foods or a high quality multivitamin.
Nutritional Recommendations for
Long-Term Vitamin B12 Benefits
Daily requirements of vitamin B12 for normal individuals is very small ( approximately 1 microgram per day), because the vitamin is extensively recycled and conserved within your body. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is set higher at 2.6 ug / day to insure adequate blood serum concentrations and sufficient body stores.
During pregnancy, the human placenta concentrates vitamin B12 and newborns may have 2X the concentration of their mothers. Although maternal stores should be adequate, the RDA is increased to 2.6 ug /day during pregnancy and 2.8 ug / day during lactation. Women planing to become pregnant should consider a high quality multiple.
A varied and healthy diet should meet vitamin B12 dietary requirements for most adults with normal requirements. Specialized cases need further concern. For example, due to increased risk of food-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption as we age, the Food and Nutrition Board recommends adults over the age of 50 meet their vitamin B12 requirements with fortified foods or a high quality multivitamin.
In fact, many respected nutritionists suggest adults over the age of 65 supplement with 100 to 400 ug /day vitamin B12 due to the increased prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency within this demographic.
Methyl cobalamin and deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 metabolically active in your body, however cyanocobalamin is more stable and since it is easily converted to these other forms, it is the form most widely used in supplements.