Author: BioCeuticals - Editor
The bioavailable and metabolically active coenzyme form of vitamin B12, methylcobalamin, is now available to the Australian market - making it easier to assist in the management of dietary vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the healthy functioning of every cell in the body. It helps make our DNA and red blood cells, and it has a key role in the normal function of the brain and nervous system.
Your body doesn't make vitamin B12; we need to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements and it needs to be consumed on a regular basis. It is rarely found in plant foods.
Since vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal-based foods, it is a nutrient of potential concern for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Vegans, the elderly, and anyone who significantly limits intake of animal-based foods, may require vitamin B12-fortified foods or supplements.
What is methylcobalamin?
Methylcobalamin is the bioavailable and metabolically active coenzyme form of vitamin B12. It is involved in the healthy function of the methylation pathway, and may assist in the management of dietary vitamin B12 deficiency.
Methylcobalamin is a new ingredient for use in Australian listed medicines. Many vitamin B12 supplements on the market contain the cyanocobalamin form. The liver is able to convert a small amount of cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin; however, methylcobalamin is preferred since it bypasses the conversion requirements of the cyanocobalamin form, making it the bioactive form and therefore better utilised.
Human urinary excretion of methylcobalamin is about one-third that of a similar dose of cyanocobalamin, indicating substantially greater tissue retention.
One of the ways in which B12 is absorbed is by passive diffusion across mucosal membranes. Therefore, oral supplementation of B12, such as a chewable tablet form, is an effective method, and carries the added benefits of lower cost and ease of administration.[2,3]
For optimal treatment outcomes, ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a methyl B12 supplement which can provide 1000-6000mcg per day - this therapeutic dosage has been shown to provide clinical effect.
Vitamin B12 is involved in:
- the maintenance of a healthy nervous system and nerve function
- maintaining healthy plasma homocysteine levels
- DNA synthesis and normal cell division
- normal healthy red blood cells
- a healthy immune function
Could you be vitamin B12 deficient?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often underdiagnosed. The blood, the nervous system (which encompasses both the nerves and the brain) and the gastrointestinal tract are affected by vitamin B12 deficiency.
Gastrointestinal system: Symptoms of vitamin B12 that may affect the digestive tract include glossitis (a swollen, reddened tongue), reduced appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain and intermittent disturbances in bowel habits.
Blood: Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are similar to those observed in iron deficiency or folic acid deficiency. These include: fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
Nervous system: If vitamin B12 deficiency remains for a long time it may cause impaired nerve function including disturbances in motor skills, eyesight and the control of the bowel and bladder. Cognitive and psychological effects of long-term B12 deficiency may include mood changes and memory problems.
See your healthcare practitioner if you have any of the symptoms above; they can help determine what testing and supplementation is best for you.
To find a healthcare practitioner in your local area, visit our Find A Practitioner service!
- Okuda K, Yashima K, Kitazaki T, et al. Intestinal absorption and ?concurrent chemical changes of methylcobalamin. J Lab Clin Med ?1973;81:557-567.
- Shils ME, Olsen JA, Shike M, et al. Modern nutrition in health and ?disease, 10th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: Phil, PA, 1999.
- Butler CC, Vidal-Alaball J, Cannings-John R, et al. Oral vitamin ?B12 versus intramuscular vitamin B12 for vitamin B12 deficiency: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Fam Pract 2006;23(3):279-285.
- Methylcobalamin. Altern Med Rev 1998;3(6):461-463. Erratum in: Altern Med Rev 1999;4(1):9.
- Pizzorno J, Murray M. Textbook of natural medicine. 3rd edition, 2006.