How do your genes influence your vitamin B12 levels?

Vitamin B12 is essential for your health! It is a cofactor for biological reactions such as creating the myelin sheath in nerve cells and the synthesis of DNA (rather important!). A lack of vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) can create a cascade of effects.[ref]

There are several genes that can influence your absorption, transport, and need for vitamin B12.  Some people need higher amounts of B12, and some people thrive on different forms of B12. Looking at your genetic data may help you figure out what is going on in your body.

Background Info on Vitamin B12

Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Vegetarian and vegan diets are lacking in vitamin B12, and supplementation is usually recommended.

Vitamin B12 as a supplement can be found in four different forms:

  • cyanocobalamin
  • methylcobalamin
  • adenosylcobalamin
  • hydroxocobalamin

The cyanocobalamin form is often found in cheaper vitamins and added to processed foods. It must be converted by the body before use.  The methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are active forms used by the body.

Deficiency in B12:

Vitamin B12 deficiency or insufficiency has been shown to cause:[ref]

  • mental confusion
  • tingling and numbness in the feet and hands
  • memory loss
  • disorientation
  • megaloblastic anemia
  • gastrointestinal symptoms

To be able to absorb B12 from foods, you need to have adequate intrinsic factor produced in the stomach. This is something that is often depleted in the elderly, leading to B12 deficiency.


Genetic variants that influence vitamin B12:

 


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