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Vitamin B12

If you are feeling tired and run down all the time, suffering from unexplained aches and pains and continually falling victim to colds and other infections, then you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

B12 is an essential vitamin that you can become deficient in. Commonest reasons for B12 deficiency are:
– A vegetarian or vegan diet, because vitamin B 12 is most abundantly found in animal products
– Low stomach acidity – widespread use of antacids is a major culprit
– Pregnancy and breast feeding
– Heavy smoking and drinking
– Gastrointestinal problems with absorption of nutrients as are common in conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, weakened bowel flora (dysbiosis), leaky gut syndrome , pernicious anemia and dyspepsia
– Advanced age
Vitamin B12 converts carbohydrates into glucose in the body, thus leading to energy production and a decrease in fatigue and lethargy. Vitamin B12 is also used for a number of vital functions like boosting red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, myelin formation and helping to regulate sleep, mood as weel as appetite cycles.

Vitamin B12 injections are traditionally popular with athletes for its energy boosting effects and people with low B12 intake such as vegans.

There are 4 different types of vitamin B12 supplements:
Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic version of vitamin B12, which is created in a lab. The cheapest and most commonly used supplement, this form of vitamin B12 is made in the presence of a cyanide molecule, which is a toxic substance.
Hydroxocobalamin is the natural form of B12 found in food, that is made by bacteria. The body converts this form of vitamin B12 to methylcobalamin.
Adenosylcobalamin is the least stable type of vitamin B12 and does not make a good supplement.
Methylcobalamin, the type preferred in our clinic, is the most easily utilizable and active form of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin converts the amino acid homocysteine to the amino acid methionine that helps prevent heart disease. It also easily crosses the blood-brain barrier (a highly selective permeability barrier that separates the circulating blood from the brain extracellular fluid) and protects the brain cells.Further, by using methylcobalamin, the body can retain its essential methyl groups for other functions such as toxin removal and other important biochemical reactions.

Umit Cetinkaya, M.D.
Internal Medicine

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