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We have been doing a fair amount of genetic analyses (mostly Nutrahacker) with an emphasis on what you can do to compensate for enzymes that aren't working quite right due to less than ideal DNA sequences. One supplement that is frequently recommended as an enzyme pathway support is vitamin B12. I thought it would be helpful to explain some B12 basics.

Vitamin B12 is a very large molecule for a vitamin and also contains a metal, cobalt, giving it the name cobalamin.

Vitamin B12 and cobalamin are the same thing. B12 comes in 4 basic forms. The most common is methyl B12 or methyl-cobalamin. This form may or may not be a good choice depending on several enzymes in your neurotransmitter pathways and your methylation pathways. Neuro pathways tend to prefer non methyl cobalamin forms and methylation problems seem to do best with this methyl cobalamin.

The next is cyano-B12 or cyanocobalamin. This form is OK for many conditions if you are a decent detoxifier and a good methylator. In this form B12 is bound to cyanide which your body can handle OK if you have enough glutathione in your system meaning you have a good detox system. If you are battling chronic problems like dementia, Parkinson's or other degenerative neurological disorder, you can assume that you also have a detox problem and you should avoid cyanocobalamin. Also after the body removes the cyanide from the B12, it will most often have to add a methyl group to become useful so if you are already a poor methylator, you now have another problem to deal with on top of detoxifying the cyanide.

Next up is hydroxocobalamin aka hydroxyB12. Hydroxy B12 has been found to very beneficial for many kinds of neurotransmitter pathways. If you are having issues with insomnia, anxiety and/or depression, you may find help from hydroxyB12. We recommend hydroxocobalamin quite often and have seen some wonderful results in stabilizing some neurotransmitter issues.

The next form is adenosyl B12. Adenosylcobolamin is not very stable so is not a common supplement form. It is commonly found in certain pathways in the body, however.

Vitamin B12 is manufactured by microorganisms, primarily bacteria. These important bacteria live in the soil, water and digestive tracts of animals providing B12 to that animal. In animals B12 is protein bound.

When you ingest vitamin B12, it is freed from the original binding protein in the stomach but then is bound to another protein secreted by the stomach called R-protein. The R-protein-cobalamin complex is safely transported to the intestine where the B12 and R-protein are separated. The B12 then combines with another protein called intrinsic factor that is also produced by the stomach. The intrinsic factor-cobalamin complex is protected from breakdown by bacteria in the digestive tract and this complex also is given priority for absorption into the blood.

Some people become B12 deficient with problems of anemia and brain problems because they don't make enough intrinsic factor to help transport the B12. B12 shots have been used to help with this but some good evidence exists that suggests that sublingual or even supplement B12 drops in a glass of water work just fine to get B12 levels up to a healthy level. If you use a sublingual B12 it is absorbed directly into the blood stream via the blood vessels in the mouth. If you put your liquid B12 in water and drink it, it is absorbed into the blood stream from the stomach lining. So either way you are good.

We can learn something about your B12 levels by a simple blood test. We are looking for a level between 500-800 pg/ml. Sometimes you will see normal listed as 200-600 pg/ml but with levels of 200-450, we maintain that it is possible to have neurologic degeneration and still show a "normal" B12.

We can assume from various studies that the average person loses .1-.2% of the body's supply of B12 each day. You can expect a non-vegetarian to store about 2,000-3,000 micrograms of B12 in the liver and muscles while losing 3 micrograms per day.

One study looked at people who changed from a meat-eating to a vegetarian diet without B12 supplementation. All had significant reductions in serum B12 levels adding weight to the common recommendation of B12 supplementation for non-meat eaters.

At we have different B12 supplements depending on each person's needs. It is helpful to know something about your genetics and therefore your predispositions for problems that call for B12 supplementation. Some enzymes prefer methyB12 and others hydroxyB12. A NutraHacker genetic report will give information on your probable B12 needs.

I should also mention that I have learned to use a hierarchy to decide whether to use hydroxyB12 or mehtylB12. I tend to give more weight to neurological problems like anxiety, depression and insomnia etc over MTHFR problems that can lead to inflammation and homocysteine elevation problems. Because neurological problems tend to react best to hydroxyB12, we start there and forego the methylB12 supplements. The probability of negative reactions to hydroxyB12 supplementation is much lower than that for methylB12 in our experience and according to the writing of t and the body can convert hydroxyB12 into methyB12

In summary, knowing something about your B12 levels and genetic needs will help you determine your needs and help your body be at its best.