In foods, vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal-based food products including eggs, fish, meat, poultry and dairy. Some non-animal-based food products such as nori, mushrooms and fermented soybean products contain trace amounts of vitamin B12. Digestive bacteria have the capacity to make vitamin B12 too, although not much of this is absorbed.
Supplemental vitamin B12 comes in three forms:
Sublingual tablets that dissolve under the tongue and enter directly into the bloodstream
Oral tablets or capsules which are swallowed and enter the digestive tract
Injections conducted by a health professional
Vitamin B12 obtained from food or oral tablets needs to interact with stomach acid and a protein called intrinsic factor (IF) to be absorbed in the body. Sublingual forms of vitamin B12 dissolve under the tongue and bypass the need for stomach acid and IF, which is advantageous for many people, particularly those who are older, have digestive issues, follow a restricted diet or are on certain medications.Activated vs non-activated vitamin B12
Activated vitamin B12 (co-methylcobalamin or mecobalamin) is biologically active in the body and generally does not require any metabolic conversion before it can be used immediately by the body. See Activated Sublingual B12.
Non-activated vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) on the other hand, requires some form of metabolic conversion to take place before vitamin B12 can be readily converted into the activated form of vitamin B12 to be used by the body. See Sublingual B12 1000.Are you at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency?
You are at greater risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency if you:
- Are over the age of 40 (due to declining stomach acid levels reducing absorption)
- Have digestive or absorption issues
- Are vegetarian or vegan
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Cannot make enough IF
- Consume high levels of alcohol
- Take certain medications i.e. reflux medications that lower stomach acid
Benefits of vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 supports a healthy cardiovascular system and is an important co-factor required for the conversion of homocysteine back to methionine via the methylation pathway. In excess, homocysteine is a toxic element, considered an independent risk factor for issues related to cardiovascular health. See Activated Sublingual B12 and Sublingual B12 1000.
Nervous system health and cognitive function
Vitamin B12 maintains healthy nervous system function and supports a healthy stress response in the body. Vitamin B12 is required for the synthesis of myelin, the protective sheath surrounding many nerves. Vitamin B12 also supports brain health and function including cognitive and mental function. See Activated B Complex.
Vitamin B12 supports blood health and the production and health of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is one of the co-factors required to activate enzymes necessary for the formation of the haem components that form haemoglobin, a protein abundant in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen around the body. See Activated Sublingual B12 and Sublingual B12 1000.
Energy production and metabolism
Vitamin B12 supports energy production and is involved in the synthesis of the citric acid cycle intermediate, succinyl-CoA, necessary to produce energy. Vitamin B12 also acts as a co-enzyme that assists in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to produce energy from the foods you eat. See Activated Sublingual B12 and Sublingual B12 1000.