Vitamin B12

Protect your heart, slow aging, and boost brain health with B12.
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Protect your heart, slow aging, and boost brain health with B12

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It’s an essential nutrient, participating in numerous biochemical reactions that protect against cardiovascular diseases, protect our genes, and enhance mood and cognitive function. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, about one in every three Americans does not obtain adequate amounts of vitamin B12, and this number may be far higher. If you are age 65 or older, you have a high risk of atrophic gastritis (low stomach acid), which interferes with B12 absorption.

Several forms are available as supplements, including cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, and methylcobalamin. Many people consider hydroxycobalamin and methylcobalamin to be the more natural forms of the vitamin.
Over the past several years, research has revealed multifaceted benefits to vitamin B12:

1. Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease

Vitamin B12 plays an essential role with folic acid and other B vitamins in a series of biochemical reactions called methylation. Methylation is needed to replicate genes and regulate their activity, protect against cardiovascular diseases, and make neurotransmitters and phospholipids. Low levels of vitamin B12 lead to increases in blood levels of methylmalonic acid, which may boost the risk of heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. To protect yourself, take a supplement containing vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid.

2. Protects Your Genes

Both young people and seniors with low levels of vitamin B12 experience a high rate of gene damage, which accelerates cell aging and increases the risk of cancer. Michael Fenech, PhD, a researcher at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, found that supplemental B12 and folic acid reduced gene damage. Meanwhile, another study found that people who took vitamin B12 supplements had relatively long telomeres (the protective tips of chromosomes), compared with people who did not take the vitamin.

3. Enhances Cognitive Function

Low levels of vitamin B12 are considered a type of “nutritional anemia” and may result in fatigue, psychiatric disorders, mental fuzziness, and symptoms of senility. Every person with symptoms of senility or Alzheimer’s disease should be tested for vitamin B12 levels—or simply be given sublingual tablets to see if they ease symptoms. Low vitamin B12 levels are common among people with early forms of Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B12 may also boost mood. If you’re experiencing a “down day” or the “blues” (something not serious enough to call depression), some nutritionally oriented physicians recommend 500 mcg of sublingual B12 along with 500 mg of L-tyrosine.

What to Take

The official recommended amount of vitamin B12 for adults is a scant 2.4 mcg. Because aging and common over-the-counter and prescription drugs interfere with B12, it is likely worthwhile to take larger amounts, such as 500 to 1,000 mcg daily. Vitamin B12 is exceptionally safe.

Many different drugs interfere with the absorption or assimilation of vitamin B12, setting the stage for often-unrecognized deficiencies. These drugs include heartburn and acid-blocking medications, antibiotics, and oral contraceptives. Nitrous oxide, often used in anesthesia, destroys vitamin B12. A three-year study described in the British Medical Journal found that the longer people with diabetes took the drug metformin (Glucophage), the more likely they were to experience vitamin B12 deficiency.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that relatively large amounts of supplemental vitamin B12 are needed to correct a deficiency. The vitamin depends on a molecule called “intrinsic factor” for absorption through the gut. Sublingual (under the tongue) B12 supplements seem to work as well as injections and bypass the need for intrinsic factor.

AW GOOD BUYS

Twin Lab Mega B12 Dots

TWINLAB MEGA B-12 DOTS dissolve quickly under the tongue for instant delivery. Each natural cherry-flavored dot provides 500 mcg of vitamin B12.

Natures Plus Shot o B12

NATURE’s PLUS SHOT-o-B12 cherry-flavored liquid gives you 5,000 mcg of supercharged vitamin B12 in each serving—the highest available potency.

Vitamin Shoppe B12 Sublingual

THE VITAMIN SHOPPE SUBLINGUAL B-12 delivers 1,000 mcg of B12 per dose. The fast-dissolving lozenges ensure optimal absorption and benefit.

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