Vitamin B12 is a lot like a key, opening up doorways that lead to an array of metabolic, cellular processes. Like a key, vitamin B12 is unique among all other vitamins in both structure and function. Plants, animals, and fungi do not create it, unlike most dietary nutrients. While bacteria in the gut can create B12, it is unproven as to whether or not the production is adequate. Without this important nutrient, cellular function would cease, and energy would plummet. Considering that B12 contributes to the production of ATP, many people with low energy levels will often get vitamin B12 injections. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common among both vegans and meat eaters alike, and more people today are reaching for supplementation.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
This essential nutrient, mostly available from animal sources, protects nerve and brain cells from free radical damage. B12 may also support brain health, and studies have found it successful for reducing pain associated with neuropathy.  The vitamin contributes to the creation of healthy DNA and RNA (the human body's genetic material). It also works with other B vitamins to form red blood cells, support immune the immune system, improves mood, protects the cardiovascular system and helps maintain overall energy levels.
The only natural sources of B12 are animal foods. This include organ meats (liver and kidney), eggs, beef, pork, seafood, and dairy products. These foods, however, often carry a heavy toxic burden, so supplementation with a vegan B12 supplement is often advised for most people. While vegetarians can get vitamin B12 through dairy, vegans need to supplement so as not to become deficient. Early symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, digestive problems, nausea, and loss of menstruation. Advanced symptoms include nerve pain, mental health disorders, infertility, impaired immune function, and anemia.
Four Types of Vitamin B12
For these reasons everyone should understand the importance and the means to get enough B12 in the diet, and that can be a challenge. Some estimates have 40% of the US population suffering from some form of B12 deficiency. That's almost half of the population! Knowing the four different types of B12 will allow you to choose the right one for you.
This is the most active form in the human body. It converts homocysteine into methionine, which helps protect the cardiovascular system. Methylcobalamin also offers overall protection to the nervous system. This B12 form can also cross the blood-brain barrier without assistance to protect brain cells. It contributes essential methyl groups needed for detoxification and to start the body's biochemical reactions.
This synthetic version of vitamin B12 was created in a lab, which makes it the cheapest supplement option. It offers the most stable form of B12, although it does so through the presence of a cyanide molecule. While the amount of cyanide is not dangerous, it does require the body expend energy to convert and remove it.
Bacteria naturally create this form of vitamin B12 making it the type found in most foods. It easily converts into methylcobalamin in the body. …read more