Our body does not produce B12, so you should optimize the levels of this water-soluble vitamin by supplementation, as it is involved in numerous important processes in the body.
It plays a vital role in the central nervous system as it conducts the nerve impulses and produces myelin sheath which prevents nerve damage.
Just like other B vitamins, it assists the body to turn carbs into glucose and produce energy. Moreover, it supports the production of RNA and DNA and in a combination with folate, it produces S-adenosyl methionine and red blood cells.
Therefore, its lack in the body causes serious health issues, including nerve damage, but it is difficult to detect. Note that the use of metformin might lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Namely, its effects on vitamin B12 have been analyzed by the researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NY.
They used the data from the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study and the Diabetes Prevention Program, as well as from participants who took a placebo and metformin twice daily.
The evaluated their vitamin B12 levels after 5 and 13 years. Then, they found that the levels were greatly different, as the ones who took metformin had lower levels of vitamin B12 in comparison to those who took the placebo.
Moreover, many of the participants who took metformin were found to be anemic too, which is a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
The U.S Framingham trial showed that about 40% of the Americans have reduced levels of vitamin B12 which leads to neurological symptoms.
Other 9% percent experienced Vitamin B12 deficiency, while 16% were near deficient. It also found that this deficiency is common in both, old and young people.
Yet, the elderly are more prone to it, because the reduced stomach acid levels impede the ability of the body to absorb the vitamin B12.
These are the most common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Mental fogginess
- Unexplained anemia
- Neuropsychiatric disorders
- Muscle weakness
- Memory troubles
- Gastrointestinal disorders
The importance of vitamin B12 is often ignored. Its normal levels are from 200pg/ml to 1100 pg/ml, but these levels are sometimes again low. Therefore, in case they are below 600 pg/ml, you might lack this vitamin.
Chris Kresser, the integrative medicine practitioner in Europe and Japan, claims that the lower limit of B12 is between 500-550 pg/ml, and might cause various behavioral and psychological conditions like memory loss, dementia, and cognitive decline.
Furthermore, according to Jeffery Stuart and Sally Pacholok, experts, specialized in diagnosis and treatment of Vitamin B12 deficiency, all patients with levels below 450 pg/ml should be treated.
Moreover, patients with raised urinary methylmalonic acid, holo transcobalamin, and homocysteine, but normal levels of B12, should undergo certain treatment too.
Vitamin B12 is important as it plays many roles in the body, including:
- Healthy nervous system function
- Food absorption
- Normal nerve growth and development
- Proper digestion
- Iron use
- Mood regulation
- Regulates the formation of red blood cells
- Adrenal hormone production
- Cell formation and longevity
- Proper circulation
- Emotional, physical and mental energy
- Healthy immune system function
- Mental clarity
- Support of pregnancy and female reproductive health
Researchers also maintain that it can also dramatically affect bone health and that its reduced levels can increase the risk of bone fractures in older men, and bone loss in the hips in women.
Vitamin B12 deficiency might also cause neurological disturbances that promote mental illnesses like dementia and depression. Children should receive plenty of this vitamin in order to prevent impaired cognitive performances as adolescents.
A Finnish study published in the journal Neurology showed that foods rich in B12 can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
This vitamin is available in the animal food sources, as well as organic free-range eggs and chicken, grass-fed dairy products, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
Factors That Can Affect the Absorption of Vitamin B12
One three-year study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that lifestyle changes are more effective than metformin in the prevention of diabetes development, and the results remained the same even after 15 years.
Participants who made some lifestyle changes have 58% lower risk to develop diabetes than the placebo group, while the ones who received metformin had 31% lower risk of diabetes.
In addition, people who take metformin are also at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency development.
Aging also reduces the hydrochloric acid in the stomach and thus lowers the levels of vitamin B12, but its absorption can be influenced by other factors as well:
- Gut inflammation
- Pernicious anemia
- Intestinal dysbiosis
- Usage of acid-suppressing drugs and metformin
- Exposure to nitrous oxide