Why we need B-12, B-6, Active Folate and TMGby Brenton Wight - LeanMachine
Vitamin B-12Vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, is part of the B group of vitamins, but is different in three respects:
- The B-12 molecule is the largest and most complex vitamin known.
- B-12, like the rest of the B-group vitamins, is water-soluble, but this is the ONLY water-soluble vitamin which can be stored in the body for months. In fact, the liver is able to store several years worth of vitamin B-12.
- B-12 is generally formed in the high-acid stomach, but people with low acid levels cannot form B-12.
Benefits of B-12
- Protects brain cells, improves nerve growth and conduction, increasing speed of messages to and from the brain
- Protects the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells.
- Protects against Alzheimer's and other brain-degenerative diseases
- Mental clarity, concentration, memory, nervous system
- Aids in turning food carbohydrates into glucose for energy
- Fat metabolism, digestion
- Helps produce DNA and RNA, the genetic material in our cells
- Increases iron utilisation to build red blood cells, preventing anemia
- With B-9 (folate), helps the manufacture of S-adenosylmethionine to reduce depression and boost the immune system
- With B-9 (folate) and B6, B-12 inhibits homocysteine production, an amino acid linked to heart disease.
- Adrenal hormone function
- Energy - physical, emotional, mental
This is why vegetarians, and especially vegans should take additional B-12 supplements.
The elderly are also at risk for B-12, because as we age, the level of stomach acid tends to drop, and once it drops below a certain point, this ends the conversion process that generates the B-12 that can be absorbed.
Many diets recommend that we limit protein from meat products, but this is very wrong. LeanMachine has been a vegetarian for four decades, but always eats eggs and fish for B-12 intake. Even so, B-12 levels were low the first time they were checked at around age 64. Since then, daily B-12 supplements have built B-12 levels to around five times the typical amount.
Unfortunately many doctors do not test for B-12, and if we are deficient in B-12, doctors typically misdiagnose this deficiency, resulting in prescribing drugs that do not help the condition, but may even create side effects that only make us feel worse!
Some prescription medications (e.g. Nexium) deliberately lower stomach acid, and there are many off-the-shelf antacids which do the same, and all result in knocking out our Vitamin B-12.
Symptoms of B-12 deficiency
- Macrocytosis (larger than normal red blood cells)
- Hypersegmented neutrophils (Nuetrophil blood cells with more lobes than normal)
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Weak legs
- Forgetfulness, mental fogginess
- Mood swings, lack of motivation
- Depression, paranoia, delusions
- Yellow colour
- Feelings of apathy
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Rapid heart rate (Tachycardia)
- Shallow breathing, short of breath
- Unintended weight loss
- Bleeding or bruising more than normal
- Persistent constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of taste and smell
- Sore tongue or mouth
- Bones which easily break, even if a DEXA scan says they are dense
- Tingling in fingers or toes
- Strange nerve sensations
- Muscle Tenderness
Not everyone with low B-12 will have all symptoms, but having a few of these suggests testing for B-12 and Folate.
Who is at Risk?
- Those aged over 50
- Vegans, vegetarians
- Those taking antacids
- Those on PPI (Proton Pump Inhibotor) medications, e.g. Nexium
- Diabetics taking Metformin (Diabex)
- Those having surgery where part of the stomach is removed
- Those with Ceoliac Disease
- Those with bacterial overgrowth, stomach and intestines
- Those taking some anti-seizure medications
Recommended Daily Allowance for B-12Official recommended dietary amounts (RDAs) are:
- Infants 0-6 months, 0.4 mcg
- Infants 7-12 months, 0.5 mcg
- Children 1-3 years, 0.9 mcg
- Children 4-8 years, 1.2 mcg
- Children 9-13 years, 1.8 mcg
- Adults: 2.4 mcg daily for ages 14 years and older
- Pregnant Females: 2.6 mcg daily
- Breastfeeding Females: 2.8 mcg daily
- Adults over 50 years old: 20 mcg daily
LeanMachine recommends Active B-12 1500mcg 60 capsules
Testing Vitamin B-12It is important to test Folate as well as B-12, because a deficiency in one can mask a deficiency in the other.
Blood Test for B-12 deficiency:
For a long time, the reference range in Australia has been 135 to 650 pmol/L (pica moles per litre) but this is way too low.
In the 1980's, Japan lifted their low end of the range to 500, and for people with the defective MTHFR gene, even this can be too low.
LeanMachine recommends 750 to 1500 as a more desirable range, and with supplements, has been able to test at the top end of this range.
However, a B-12 high reading does not always mean a satisfactory level.
When B-12 is low, two enzyme substrates will increase: tHcy (total homocysteine) and MMA (methylmalonic acid). If deficiency symptoms do not go away, these should also be tested.
Treating Low Vitamin B-12Memory loss is a significant symptom, and if diet and/or supplementation is improved within one to two years, full memory can often be restored, but after two years, permanent memory damage may have occurred.
Ideally, we should look at the diet first, and if this does not improve B-12, then B-12 supplements are essential. If deficiency symptoms are severe, immediate supplementation or a B-12 injection is advised.
Here are some food sources of vitamin B12, arranged from highest to lowest:
|Type of Food||mcg of B-12/serving||% of RDA|
|Shellfish (Clams) 85g/3oz||84||1400|
|Liver, beef 85g/3oz||70.0||1178|
|Shellfish (Oysters) 85g/3oz||84||408|
|Crab, raw, 85g/3oz||9.8||163|
|Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 85g/3oz||5.4||90|
|Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 85g/3oz||4.9||80|
|Red Meat (Beef) 85g/3oz||5.1||85|
|Yogurt, plain, 1 cup||1.4||25|
|Haddock, cooked, 85g/3oz||1.2||20|
|Egg (chicken), one extra-large||0.5||20|
Homocysteine - an inflammatory markerHomocysteine levels in the blood are a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease, and low levels of Vitamin B12 and Folate can raise Homocysteine levels.
High homocysteine levels usually lead to cognitive decline in advancing years, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and many other ageing-related diseases.
Homocysteine is produced in the body as a result of demethylation of methionine utilisation of fats and proteins.
In Australia, doctors seldom order a Homocysteine blood test unless we ask for it. This test can also check for a rare inherited disorder called homocystinurina. The risk for homocystinurina is low, but it is best to rule it out.
If there is a family history of high homocysteine, children should be tested from birth.
The main purpose of the Homocysteine test is to determine if you have increased risk for heart attack or stroke, and a deficiency in B-12 and Folate, and all should be tested at the same time.
What is Homocysteine?Homocysteine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of proteins. We can not get homocysteine from the diet.
Homocysteine can only be made from methionine, another amino acid that is found in meat, fish, and dairy products, and this reaction can only happen with enough Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B-12 and folate.
Foods containing methionine are transformed into homocysteine in the blood, and then Vitamin B6 helps convert homocysteine to cysteine. Vitamin B12 related enzymes can also recycle homocysteine back into methionine.
Cysteine is a very important protein, involved in how proteins in cells are folded, maintain their shape, and link to each other, and cysteine is a source of sulfide, taking part in metabolism of iron, zinc, copper and other metals. Cysteine also acts as an anti-oxidant. If homocysteine cannot be converted into cysteine or returned to the methionine form, levels of homocysteine in the body increase. Elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with heart attack, stroke, blood clot formation, and perhaps the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Homocysteine TestLaboratories generally say that normal homocysteine serum levels are between 4 and 15 micromoles per litre, with anything above 15 considered high.
However, the OPTIMAL level of homocysteine is less than 10 or 12 in most labs, and many doctors will ignore readings unless they are flagged on the report (above 15).
CRP or c-Reactive Proteinc-Reactive Protein is another important marker for inflammation and risk for strokes, and should be tested if homocysteine results are inconclusive.
Healthy people should ask for the High-Sensitivity test, hs-CRP.
Those in poor health should ask for the regular CRP test, which is not as sensitive, but has a much wider range of values.
Folate, Folic Acid, Folinic Acid, Active FolateThese are all similar, but most forms have to be converted in the body to the active form: MTHF or (6S)-5-MethylTetraHydroFolate.
LeanMachine normally stocks this product, as it is only slightly more expensive that regular Folic Acid which is no longer stocked.
Up to 40% of the population have a MTHFR gene polymorphism which prevents complete or partial conversion in the body from regular folate to MTHF.
Unfortunately, consumption of Folic Acid can aggravate this MTHFR gene polymorphism, making the problem worse, and increasing cancer risk and causing other health problems.
Treating High HomocysteineBecause homocysteine is missing CH3 (methyl group), the best way to lower homocysteine is to add a methyl donor, which will aid the breakdown of homocysteine into methionine.
The following are all methyl donors:
StudiesIn a 2-year study of people aged over 70 with elevated Homocysteine levels over 11.3 micromoles/litre, patients were given either a placebo or:
- Folic Acid 800mcg daily
- Vitamin B-12 500mcg daily
- Vitamin B-6 20mg daily
- Another 2-year study of people aged 60 to 74 with symptoms of depression using smaller doses and only Folic Acid 400mcg and Vitamin B-12 100mcg taken twice daily, showed small but significant improvements in short-term and long-term memory.
- Another 8-year study of several hundred people in their seventies showed that those having the lowest levels of B-12 in their blood (under 257 pmol/l), 40% of the group, had the highest rates of cognitive decline. Formerly, the official danger point for B-12 was set at 148 pmol/l (picomoles per litre), but this study confirms that this level is too low, and that most people aged 50 or over should either consume foods fortified with B-12 or take supplements.
- Another 2-year study showed that B-12 and Folic Acid supplements significantly reduced the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
- Another study found that although bone density remained the same in the B-12 and Folate group as well as the placebo group, the number of bone fractures was 80% less in the supplement group.
It appears that high homocysteine levels interfere with the way collagen works to strengthen bone.
Food Sources of B VitaminsAll B-group vitamins come primarily in meat and eggs, the only exception being mushrooms as the only “vegetable” with B-group vitamins).
ALL vegetarians and especially vegans should supplement with Active B-12, vitamin B-6 and Active Folate.
Almost all seniors need B-12 because of reduced stomach acid as we age, and anyone taking statin drugs (e.g. Simvastatin, Lipitor, etc for Cholesterol) or heartburn medication (Nexium) (or off-the-shelf remedies) MUST supplement with B12 because stomach acid will not be strong enough for the body to produce any B-12 at all.
As we age, we also lose our ability to absorb B-12, B-6 and Folate from foods, so most people over 50 should supplement.
Many younger people are also deficient in B-group vitamins due to diet, health, lifestyle, genetic makeup or illness, so annual blood tests are recommended for everyone.
Around 20% of the population suffer from Folate deficiency, but too much Folate (over 1000mcg or 1mg daily) can be toxic to the liver.
However, we cannot overdose on B-6 or B-12. No side-effects have ever been observed at extremely high doses.
TMG 1000 mg, 100 capsules:
Active Folate 400mcg, 90 capsules:
Active Vitamin B-12 1500mcg, 60 vcaps:
Vitamin B-6 100mg 250 capsules:
Consider also complete B-group vitamin, all B-groups plus GABA, Choline and Inositol, 250 tablets:
Vitamin C, pure pharmaceutical grade Ascorbic Acid 1kg tub:
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DisclaimerLeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia - Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia - Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia - Chemistry - Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA - Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA - Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA - Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA - Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England - Inside Cancer
WebMD Education - The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands - Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
LeanMachine has now read thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.
Updated 17th October 2017, Copyright © 1999-2017 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285