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:


Members: Log in to see your data below

The rest of this article is for Genetic Lifehacks members only.  Consider joining today to see the rest of this article.

***  This section is only available to members. ***

Not a member? Consider joining today.

Members see their genetic data in each article, can access topic reports, and see the extended article sections with detailed information.

Join here


Related Genes and Topics:

How Well Do You Convert Beta-Carotene to Vitamin A?
Everyone knows that carrots and sweet potatoes are great sources of vitamin A, right? Well… it turns out it isn’t that straightforward for everyone. The conversion of beta-carotene, found in orange fruits and vegetables, results in a form of vitamin A (retinol) that our bodies can use. Genetics plays a huge role in how well you convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. This article covers the research on the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A and how genetic variants decrease the conversion process for some people.

Should you take folic acid?
There is a lot of buzz online about MTHFR variants and the need to avoid folic acid. I’ve seen recommendations ranging from avoiding all processed foods that are fortified with folic acid — to recommendations that people with MTHFR variants need to take extra folic acid. I’ve dug into the topic to see what is in the research studies about folic acid. Is it so evil that everyone should go out of their way to avoid it?