Ten little known essential facts about the partner vitamins B12 and folate
Your health is at risk if you are not aware of some essential facts about essential B12 and folate. The risk is that without optimal levels of these two B vitamins, chronic inflammation increases the risk of developing illnesses such as cancer, dementia, obesity, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, strokes, etc.
B12 and folate must be in their natural bioactive forms to be used by cells for every biochemical activity including gene expression, energy production and cleansing of cellular waste products.
These B vitamins are required for all other positive health interventions to succeed, e.g., if someone took vitamin D and calcium to strengthen bones but were missing B12 and folate, osteoporosis would still develop.
We are in the middle of a world-wide deficiency of these bioactive vitamins because food processing strips out natural vitamins while supplementing and fortifying artificial forms back in. B vitamins are poorly made, absorbed and metabolized. B vitamins must be converted from their synthetic forms into the bioactive forms the cells use for gene expression, energy production, and waste removal.
I have prescribed bioactive B12 and folate as optimizing agents to improve the health interventions of exercise, diet, sleep, and prescribed medications. The cost is low as is the risk of their use, while deficiencies cause enormous healthcare expenditures.
- Almost all B12 and folic acid in supplements are in their artificial forms and must be converted into the bioactive natural forms methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin and L-methylfolate to able to be used by the body.
- The B12 from supplements is absorbed by passive diffusion at a rate of 1% of the amount noted on the label, so a large amount needs to be taken to achieve health benefits.
- Contrary to many medical texts, the body cannot store three years’ worth of B12 because it is water soluble. The B12 in the liver is being used by every cell of the liver and therefore cannot donate B12 to the rest of the body. When vegan diets are initiated, B12 deficiency can be detected within four weeks.
- Contrary to many medical texts, the highest concentration of B12 is not in the liver but in the pituitary gland because the biochemistry of hormone production is controlled here. Some studies suggest that the concentration is at least five times greater except in pregnant women where it is even more.
- Folate is a partner vitamin of B12, either of which cannot work well unless there are adequate amounts of both. Other vitamins and many other medical treatments will not work well if there is a B12 or folate deficiency.
- A large percentage of people do not have enough of the enzyme MTHFR to convert the artificial form folic acid into the bioactive folate.
- The anemia of B12 deficiency shows up on blood tests long after the deficiency has already begun to cause nerve cell dysfunction or damage.
- Japan sets a high level for normal B12 below which neurologic symptoms start, while in the US we set the level two to three times lower at the level below which anemia starts. This means in the US, sensory nerve damage has already started before an anemia appears on lab tests.
- Only humans, of all other mammals, have a high concentration of methyl-B12 in their blood because of our unique brain. Methylcobalamin serves as a longer lasting nocturnal reservoir of B12 that can be converted into adenosylcobalamin which is in high concentration inside cells. Both these B vitamins clean and repair brain cells during sleep long after meat ingestion.
- Shellfish contain high concentrations of B12 obtained from waterborne bacteria they filter. Therefore, there may be some truth to the notion that eating oysters can act as a mild aphrodisiac by stimulating sex-hormone production in B12-deficient pituitaries.
By optimizing your use of the bioactive forms of B12 and folate, you will be optimizing your health.