What's important to know about B12 and Folic Acid? What are the risks of a B12 and Folic Acid deficiency? Find out!

What's important to know about B12 and Folic Acid?

  1. Taking the Right Kind of B12
  2. Risks of B12 and Folic Acid Deficiencies
  3. What Tests Are Available to Evaluate for B12 and Folic Acid Deficiency
  4. A Functional B12 Deficiency May Exist so Tests May Not Show the Need
  5. B12 Can Be Difficult to Absorb
  6. Importance of the Reduction of Homocystine
  7. The Importance of Taking B12 and Folic acid Together


Taking the Right Kind of B12

A very important issue when taking B12 is to take it in the form of Methycobalamin (if injectable hydroxycobalamin)-- NOT Cyanocobalamin --- yes the Cyano stands for cyanide! As a matter of fact, B12 is used as the best antidote for cyanide poisoning (in the injectable form). Cyanide is released in the smoke fires as well as from cigarette smoke. Bevko Vitamins only uses the methycobalamin form.*

The Importance of B12 and Folic Acid

Taken together, B12 and Folic Acid can help brain function, circulation, mood (depression) and memory.*

Top Risks of B12 and Folic Acid Deficiency:

  • Memory Loss
  • Decreased Concentration/Impaired Mental Functioning
  • Numbness and Tingling Sensations
  • Burning Sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Elevated Homocysteine Levels (Leading to Increased Cardiovascular Risk)
  • Brain/Spinal Cord Developmental Defects

A lack of B12 and Folic Acid can also lead to various types of anemia. Even though anemia is the classic symptom of B12 deficiency, the brain and nervous system are affected first!*

Nervous System Development Problems

It is very important for women who may become pregnant or who are breast-feeding to make sure to get enough B12 and Folic Acid. It is critical to treat for B12 and Folic Acid deficiency in order to prevent neurological damage to their children. After all, if the mother has inadequate levels of B12 and Folic Acid, then the developing infant can be affected (neural tube defects such as spina bifida which is incomplete devolopment of the spinal cord, occurs very early in pregnancy) and there would also be inadequate levels in the breast milk. This means, of course, that the baby won't get enough of the critical nutrients that help prevent neurological and developmental delay. (Obeid et al 2005)*

Low levels of B vitamins can have negative effects on the infant, including impaired growth, impaired gross motor function, poor school performance, and loss of other adaptive skills.*

Further Effects of Folic acid Deficiency:

A folic acid deficiency can lead to mood problems and affect and chemicals in the brain like serotonin and dopamine. (D'Anci et al 2004) It's also been found that there is often folic acid deficiency in patients with inflammatory skin diseases for example psoriasis especially, severe forms. (Gisondi P et al 2007) Treatment with B12 and folic acid, in one study, greatly helped the treatment of vitiligo. (Juhlin et al 1997) "Some data show that folate may potentiate the effects of antidepressants in the treatment of depression and that people with low levels of folate are less responsive to the therapeutic effects of antidepressant medications" (D'Anci et al 2004)*

What Tests are Available to Evaluate for B12 and Folic Acid Deficiency?

Levels of B12 and Folic Acid, and the risk factor for high homocysteine levels as a result, can be measured by blood tests. However, even these may not be adequate.*

Many patients come in and say, "I really feel like I am lacking in vitamin B12. I have been having problems with my memory, I have numbness and tingling in my arms and legs and sometimes burning sensations. I am also really fatigued and moody. But my doctor did a blood test and said that I had plenty of B12, and actually the level was even high!" The reason for this seeming contradiction is that serum levels (blood levels) of vitamin B12 do not adequately reflect the levels of ACTIVE vitamin B12 in the brain and tissues!*

Scientific experts in B12 metabolism state the following:

"It is becoming increasingly clear that serum vitamin B12 (cobalamin) concentration is a dubious indicator of functional B12 status and, in contrast to long-standing convention, correlates poorly with haematological indices."(1)

"The clinician should never be deceived by a normal concentration of B12 in the serum and thus discard a suspicion of B12 deficiency."(2)*

Functional B12 Deficiency

A person may have what is termed a functional deficiency of B12. This is caused by cerebral (brain) oxidative stress which does not allow B12 to stay in its properly active or functional state. The author of the study states: "Interestingly, patients with Alzheimer's disease also have proportionately more inactive 'analogue' forms of the vitamin in serum." (McCaddon, A et al 2002)*

What this means:

In the body and the brain there are can be chemicals called oxidants. They cause oxidation or a process like rusting. These oxidants can be from chemicals ingested or absorbed into the system, such as metals (mercury, aluminum, arsenic, lead etc), other chemicals that affect the brain. Further you can have chemicals that are produced due to inflammation in the body that become oxidizing agents. The oxidation causes damage when there are too many oxidants and not enough antioxidant such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium and lipoic acid.*

So, there can be diminished levels of B12 or actually even decent levels of B12 present in certain areas, but this B12 has been deactivated by the presence of oxidative stress. This this type of B12 no longer has any affect and the person still suffers from B12 deficiency! This explains why classic findings of B12 deficiency in blood work may not be present. This is called a functional B12 deficiency because the classic tests are negative, but the patient still suffers from its effects. (Rodrigo et al 2003)*

Why You May Have Difficulty Absorbing B12

Many people have problems absorbing vitamin B12 because of damage to their stomach lining from medications and beverages including but not limited to:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Alcohol
  • Medications that reduce stomach acid (like medications used for reflux and gastric ulcers)*

Other reasons B12 might not be able to be absorbed:

  • Vegetarians often have a deficiency of B12 because B12 is usually found in meats.
  • Pernicious anemia, caused by an autoimmune disease of the lining of the stomach, doesn't allow the absorption of B12 through the stomach.
  • About 1/3 of older adults in the U.S. develops atrophic gastritis, the inability to secrete gastric acid. The lack of gastric acid influences the absorption of a variety of micronutrients, including B12.(Other nutrients that are more poorly absorbed are folic acid, calcium, vitamin K and others Saltzman et al 1998)*

Homocysteine - A Hidden Danger

Not enough levels of active B12 and Folic Acid lead to elevated levels of homocysteine, an amino acid (protein). High homocysteine levels in the blood can damage the lining of the arteries, and may make blood clot more easily than it should. This can increase the risk of blood vessel blockages, making the individual have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. (Rodrigo et al 2003) (den Heijer M et al 1998)*

How Can Homocysteine Be Harmful?

Even mildly elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Dementia
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Pregnancy Complications and Miscarriages

Elevated homocysteine levels are also associated with poorer functioning on several cognitive tasks including immediate recall, attention and performance.*

  • Conditions often associated with elevated Homocystine levels are:
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidsm
  • Menopause
  • Increased age
  • Severe psoriasis
  • Smoking
  • Certain cancers
  • Male sex
  • Birth control pills

(Hankey et al 1999) And:

  • Severe Oxidative Stress
  • Antioxidant deficiency

(Rodrigo et all 2003)

B12 and Folic Acid - Important to Take Together

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid are key, essential vitamins necessary to prevent brain and nerve problems, as well as the high blood pressure and thickening arteries that result from high homocysteine levels.*

The best way to treat elevated homocysteine levels is to take vitamin B12 and Folic Acid together. B12 CAN be taken without Folic Acid, but Folic Acid SHOULD NOT be taken without B12! Treating high homocysteine levels with just Folic Acid can further mask a B12 deficiency, leading to more brain and nervous system injury. (Hankey et al 1999) (Selhub et al 2007)*

By taking B12 and Folic Acid together, you can improve the health of your brain function (memory and concentration), nerve, and red blood cells, prevent pregnancy complications, and work toward lowering your risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Don't delay - start taking a supplement today!*



*Disclaimer - please read: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. The information contained in this newsletter is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information presented is not intended to provide a complete review on any topic. If you have a health problem please contact a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information is derived from selected medical literature and intended exclusively for informational and educational purposes only and not for medical advice. This information has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA. Consult your medical or healthcare professional when adding dietary supplements to your healthcare regimen and for any questions regarding your health.