Of all vitamins, vitamin B12 is the most complex chemically and is biologically interesting. It has a dark red crystal appearance that has earned it the label of “nature’s most beautiful cofactor.” Closely related to the vitamin are other pigments of life including complex organometallic substances such as chlorophyll, hemoglobin, and cytochromes as well as derivatives of uroporphyrinogen III. Vitamin B12 works with folate to create building blocks for RNA and DNA synthesis and the synthesis of molecules that help maintain the proper functioning of the genome. The vitamin also helps the nervous system function properly and aides in molecule synthesis involved in energy production and in fatty acid biosynthesis. The body uses only two to three milligrams of vitamin B12 to carry out these tasks.
Homocysteine levels are controlled as vitamin B12 works with vitamin B6 and folic acid. Excess levels of homocysteine have been linked to increased risk of stroke, osteoporosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B12 has been used by people with the following conditions:
• Anemia (if deficiency exists)
• Depression (in people with vitamin B12 deficiency)
• High Homocysteine (combination with folic acid and vitamin B6)
• Pernicious anemia (if deficiency of vitamin B12 exists)
Other Vitamin B12 Uses
Intake of vitamin B12 is critical for those who have had gastric surgery and for the elderly. These people have increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Those who might also benefit from in taking vitamin B12 are those who maintain low levels of the vitamin or who have malabsorption problems. These people might include some vegetarians and the chronically ill.
Vitamin B12 may help restrain pre-cancerous lung conditions in smokers. It also might help improve neuropsychiatric disorder symptoms in those with HIV and chronic fatigue. Breast cancer and some vascular diseases might be prevented by vitamin B12 according to certain theoretical and epidemiological considerations. Vitamin B12 has been suggested to help defend against hypersensitivity to sulfites. Vitamin B12 has not been proven to work as an “energizer” or as a way to manage sleep-wake rhythm disorders as previously suggested.