Your Genes May Include You In The 40% of Vitamin B12 Deficiency, But One Supplement Can Help
According to research conducted by Tufts University, 40% of the US population is deficient in vitamin B12. In this article I expose the role genetics play in Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Studies Show a Genetic Link to Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Studies conducted in 2008 show a direct link to the role genetics play in vitamin B12 deficiency. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Tufts University, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) identified a genetic influence on vitamin B12 levels in the blood. This gene, called FUT2, was detected in a genome-wide scan of 1,658 women of European ancestry who participated in the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS) project. The findings were replicated in another 1,059 women from the Nurses' Health Study. In this study more than 528,000 genetic variants were evaluated, and the strongest signals came from the FUT2 gene which was found to be responsible for approximately 3% of the genetic variation that affects vitamin B12 plasma levels.
Another study conducted by an international research team in 2012 discovered that a second transport protein other than the intrinsic factor was essential for the uptake of vitamin B12 into the cells. This provided further evidence of hereditary vitamin B12 deficiency. In this study, they worked with two patients showing symptoms of the cblF gene defect of vitamin B12 metabolism. Through this process, they discovered a new gene called ABCD4. This gene is associated with the transport of B12 and responsible for a new disease called cblJ combined homocystinuria and methylmalonic aciduria (cblJ-Hcy-MMA). These results confirmed previous research by the same team from the RI MUHC and McGill University, with their colleagues in Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.
The National Institute of Health classifies the following as symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
● Megaloblastic anemia
● Loss of appetite
● Weight loss
● Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
● Poor memory
● Soreness of the mouth or tongue
The National Institute of Health warns that the neurological implications of B12 deficiency can occur without the development of pernicious anemia. Thus an early diagnosis and intervention is crucial to prevent irreversible damage.
What are the health risks associated with vitamin B12 deficiency? According to the National Institute of Health they include:
● Cardiovascular disease
● Dementia and cognitive function
● Energy and endurance related symptoms
● Pernicious anemia
A common factor that puts many Americans at risk today for B12 deficiency is low stomach acid (HCL), also known as hypochlorhydria. In the production of HCL, B12 is required, and dietary B12 is only released from certain foods when HCL levels are optimal. The stomach does this by secreting a protein called the intrinsic factor that binds to B12 molecules until they are transferred for storage in the liver.
People taking certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors may also be at a higher risk for developing a B12 deficiency. Vegetarians are at an increased risk for B12 deficiency because the foods containing the highest amounts of vitamin B12 are animal products.
The FDA recommends that vegetarians supplement their vitamin B12 intake by ingesting B12 fortified cereals. However, the most common form of synthetic B12 used in these cases is cyanocobalamin. This is not the most active form of B12. For individuals that have difficulty activating B12, dietary fortifications may pose a problem.
The most active form available is called methylcobalamin. This form is required for the synthesis of methionine, an amino acid, from homocysteine. Methionine is necessary for DNA methylation and critical for the prevention of cancer by inhibiting the development of carcinogenesis. DNA methylation is also being linked with longevity. The reason for this is becoming crystal clear as we continue to unravel the secrets bound in our genetic strands.
Here is the big question. What if you know a vegan with pernicious anemia and the genetic variant preventing them from properly absorbing B12? The answer may be a vegan form of sublingual methylcobalamin and/or B12 injections. The significance of B12 injections to treat B12 deficiencies was initially discovered when it was used to treat pain in 40 patients with acute subdeltoid bursitis by Dr. Irving S. Klemes. All patients were completely pain free with the exception of three within two to three weeks.
In conclusion, if you suspect you are included in that 40% B12 deficiency statistic, I would encourage you to take action today. You can erase all signs of B12 deficiency! I personally have taken supplementation to correct my B12 deficiency through methylated B12 and a sublingual form of methylcobalamin by Garden of Life with tremendous results.