Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble, B-complex vitamin that is involved in immune function, growth, metabolism, DNA production, red blood cell manufacture, and nerve function.

Generally, shortages are unusual.  However, some individuals are predisposed to deficiency, for instance, those on plant-based diets, the elderly, those with gastrointestinal (GI) tract disorders, such as nutrient absorption problems, and individuals taking antacids.

Deficiencies of B-12 have been associated with fatigue, anemia, mood swings, muscle weakness, intestinal discomfort, and damage to nerves.

History

In 1926, scientists discovered Vitamin B-12.  Observation demonstrated that high consumption of liver boosted red blood cell production in individuals with pernicious anemia or insufficient red blood cell manufacture.

George Hoyt Whipple, George Richards Minot, and William Parry Murphy won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934 for their discoveries about treating anemia, which were later linked with Vitamin B12.

Although Vitamin B-12 wasn’t isolated until 1948, an understanding of the role liver played in the proliferation of red blood cells was a major development.

Treatments

Vitamin B12 treatments are usually taken orally or by injection.  It is commonly used to treat chronic fatigue, extreme tiredness, pernicious anemia, constipation, poor appetite, and deficiencies triggered by following plant-based diets. The vitamin’s role in supporting cell reproduction can result in the following benefits:-

 

  • Relief of allergy
  • Improvements in mental focus and concentration
  • Relief of pain associated with diabetic neuropathy
  • Male infertility treatment additional support
  • Improvements in central nervous system functioning and health, including myelin sheath production and improved neurotransmitter signaling
  • Energy support for everyday life, sport and the enhanced needs of athletes
  • Immune system support and general health
  • Increased cognitive function
  • Improved memory function
  • Elevation of mood
  • Aid to more restful sleep
  • Increase of red blood cell production, alleviating pernicious anemia, particularly those associated with osteoporosis
  • Improvement in heart disease by lowering of homocysteine and triglyceride levels and unclogging arteries.
  • Dermatological benefits for healthy skin and alternative treatment for eczema and psoriasis
  • Anti-aging regime supplementation.

Cyanocobalamin vs Methylcobalamin

B-12 injections can be used to support good health or for specific therapeutic purposes. These injections are most widely available as cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin. They are both identical compounds but differ by just one molecule.

Cyanocobalamin has the attachment of a cyanide donor and methylcobalamin has the attachment of a methyl donor. Cyanocobalamin has the attachment of cyanide, which is detrimental to good health.

Also, the body needs to be able to convert the cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin to be able to benefit from supplementation.

Cyanocobalamin is synthetically manufactured and is the most common form of B-12 found in dietary supplements as it can be manufactured comparatively cheaply.

The process of converting cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin by the body requires the use of methyl molecules, which reduces the internal supply. This has the potential to hinder the natural methylation process which is an important detoxification system within the body.

Conclusion

Vitamin B-12 is important for many processes within the body and shortages can cause a wide range of health problems. If choosing to supplement with vitamin B-12 it’s important to be aware of the two forms available, to enable an informed decision to be made.