Vitamin B12 Better Naturally or Synthetically?

Supplemental or natural B12

Recently vitamin B12 deficiency is shown to be on the rise but is it better to ingest it naturally or synthetically? Cobalamin, the other name for B12, is most likely already part of the diet of many meat eaters. Vegans need supplements to include it in theirs. According to Health Magazine, B12 is only found naturally in animal sources, (seafood and milk are included in this category), yogurt and egg yolks. All vitamins are available in natural settings, however, the ability to optimally ingest them is the key to obtaining their benefits.

Some people gain most from taking nutrients in pill, powder or other forms. Regarding steps to turn B12 deficiency around, Consumer Lab states:

 “Exceptions to the ‘foods are better’  rule are two B vitamins. Ten to thirty percent of older people don’t properly digest and absorb natural vitamin B12 from foods, so it is recommended to get B12 from a supplement if you are over age 50.”

In case supplements are a hard pill to swallow, Health Magazine suggests eating pork, fish, and seafood. The magazine mentions three ounces of clams contains more than 10 times the daily recommended amount of B12. Salmon and rainbow trout  offer 100% of the body’s daily B12 dosage required for up keep. A three ounce serving of pork brings the same results. Cereal and soy milk are also mentioned as fortified foods containing the vitamin.

Dietitian Jack Norris explains B12 is a uniquely complicated vitamin. It has inactive analogues (inactive molecules that appear active) that may interfere with its function. He says vegans may feel there are natural options such as seaweeds, tempeh, honey and organic produce that are reliable sources of B12, but it is not true.  Studies reveal vitamin B12 fortified foods or supplements are definitely necessary intake for vegans and vegetarians. Norris warns non-meat eaters who do not adhere to this advice are most likely harming their health.

Part of the B12 confusion is knowing the body stores it as a reserve in the liver when excess intake over the years allows it to build up. This is true, the distinction that must be made is reserves vary per individual.  Meaning every one does not have the same amount of B12 stored in the body. In addition some people do not have any stored at all. If B12 is stored in the liver, the improper  assumption is the body only needs to take in small amounts of the vitamin to maintain health. Though B12 may be stored in the liver, it is also being used. Not being aware of specific variables, taking in small amounts of the vitamin may not be enough for the body to keep functioning properly.

B12 is a very important nutrient. It protects the nervous system and assists red blood cells with dividing. Signs of deficient amounts of vitamin B12, Norris says, can be fatigue and tingling in one’s hands and feet. If the signs are truly of a B12 deficiency they can lead to blindness, deafness, dementia and macrocytic (AKA megaloblastic) anemia. 

Prevention is the best policy. Taking supplements, eating the proper foods, exercising and getting needed rest helps the body a lot with maintaining one’s health. If a vitamin B12 deficiency is found, talk to the doctor about a diet alteration that consists of obtaining the proper supplements and vitamins to build the body back to its optimal status. As studies have show,n synthetic and natural forms of vitamin B12 exists, however findings suggest the synthetic form is the best form of B12 to take for optimal health.

By Dada Ra

Consumer Lab

Health Magazine

Vegan Health

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