Vitamin B12 – What Is It?
Vitamin B12 is one of many ingredients in the Tikva product. It is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. After the body uses these vitamins, leftover amounts leave the body through the urine. Typically, water-soluble vitamins can not be stored by the body. It is special, because the body can store it for years in the liver. Because of this, a vitamin B12 deficiency is very rare.
Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for metabolism . It helps in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of the central nervous system .
Vitamin B12 Health Benefits
Vitamin B12 , aids the body in processing homocysteine, an amino acid like compound that, at elevated levels, increases the risk for heart disease and other vascular disorders.
Some evidence indicates that deficiency is a major cause of elevated homocysteine levels in people over the age of 60. Two studies found blood methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels to be elevated in more than 60% of elderly individuals with elevated homocysteine levels. An elevated MMA level in conjunction with elevated homocysteine, in the absence of impaired kidney function, suggests a deficiency. Thus, it is important to evaluate vitamin B12 status as well as kidney function in older individuals with elevated homocysteine levels prior to initiating homocysteine-lowering therapy.
Even moderately elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke. During protein digestion, amino acids, including methionine, are released. Homocysteine is an intermediate in the metabolism of methionine.
-Linus Pauling Institute
Although oral B12 did not reduce homocysteine in every case, when it did, the results were dramatic. Some of the people in the study had homocysteine levels as high as 175 micromoles per liter (the optimal safe range for homocysteine is under 6). In the case of one patient, 2,000 micrograms of oral B12 for four months reduced their homocysteine from 113.4 micromoles per liter to 8.2. Injected B12 also significantly reduced homocysteine – the main difference being that the injected version worked faster.
Interestingly, some of the patients did not respond to supplemental vitamin B12. It was discovered that they were also deficient in folate (folic acid), and until folate was replaced, their homocysteine remained elevated. Vitamin B12 and folate work synergistically in the chemical reactions that recycle homocysteine back to methionine in the methylation cycle.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
B12-deficiency can cause a dementia that looks exactly like Alzheimer’s disease. And the connection between Alzheimer’s disease itself is characterized by brain deficiencies of both vitamin B12 and the methylating factor, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe).
A new study from Germany correlates B12 deficiency in Alzheimer’s patients with two personality changes—irritability and disturbed behavior. B12 deficiency and mental illness has been documented repeatedly. According to the latest research, as much as 30% of hospitalized mental patients may be deficient in vitamin B12. And what’s disturbing is that studies repeatedly show that the deficiency is frequently missed by standard blood tests.
For example, a recent study from Germany shows that out of 67 hemodialysis patients who were B12-deficient by the measurement of methylmalonic acid (it goes up when B12 goes down), only two of them were deficient by a standard blood test. Looking at the data, one can’t help but wonder how many people with B12 deficiency get treated for mental illness when what they should get is a vitamin!
A cross-sectional study of 700 community-living, physically disabled women over the age of 65 found that vitamin B12 deficient women were twice as likely to be severely depressed as non-deficient women.
A population-based study in 3,884 elderly men and women with depressive disorders found that those with vitamin B12 deficiency were almost 70% more likely to experience depression than those with normal vitamin B 12 status.
The reasons for the relationship between vitamin B12 deficiency and depression are not clear but may involve S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Vitamin B12 and folate are required for the synthesis of SAMe, a methyl group donor essential for the metabolism of neurotransmitters whose bioavailability has been related to depression.
This hypothesis is supported by several studies that have shown supplementation with SAMe improves depressive symptoms. Because few studies have examined the relationship of vitamin B12 status and the development of depression over time, it cannot yet be determined if vitamin B12 deficiency plays a causal role in depression. However, due to the high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in older individuals, it may be beneficial to screen for vitamin B12 deficiency as part of a medical evaluation for depression.
-Linus Pauling Institute
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