Are You Getting Enough of the “Gymnast” Vitamin?

Vitamin B12 goes through acrobat-like moves for crucial reactions in the body, new research finds.

Vitamin B12 bends over backwards for your health and now, for the first time, scientists have produced 3-D images of it in action.

University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have created computer-generated 3-D ribbon diagrams of vitamin B12 (and other molecules) in action as it performs its role in transferring methyl groups — a crucial reaction in the body.

Methyl group transfer is an essential vitamin B12 function needed for the maintenance of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems, as well as the conversion of food into energy. It also occurs in the cells of bacteria that reside in our guts (and in the guts of cows and other animals), enabling gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to be detoxified and eliminated.

B12 is already known as the biggest and most structurally complicated vitamin, but this research takes that knowledge a step further—illustrating the vitamin’s elaborate, acrobatic, “molecular juggling”. The research serves to better understand how vitamin B12 twists and contorts itself to perform its essential-for-life functions.

The research may also potentially play a role in the development of new alternative renewable energy sources using methyl group transfer.

Vitamin B12 represented in action as a full 3-D ribbon diagram with twists and fold.

How much vitamin B12 dietary intake is needed daily? The established Daily Value (DV) for B12 is 6 micrograms. Normally, people should be able to obtain these amounts easily enough from animal products such as meat, shellfish, eggs, milk, and cheese. However, as people get older, they may lose production of enough digestive juices necessary to free sufficient B12 that is complexed in foods. Absorption may be further complicated by failure of cells of the stomach lining to secrete intrinsic factor, a protein necessary to bind to B12 enabling absorption.

Groups that may want to consider taking a B12 supplement because of decreased absorption are aging adults, people with pernicious anemia, and people with decreased levels of stomach acidity (achlorhydria) or gastrointestinal disorders. These groups should check with their doctors about having routine blood tests to check vitamin B12 status. Because of vitamin B12 only being in animal-derived foods, vegetarians may need to include B12 supplements or fortified foods in their diet to ensure adequate intake.

Vitamin B12 is available in several forms including cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin. Because vitamin B12 is the only metabolite known to contain cobalt, they are known collectively as cobalamins. As a supplement, B12 is often provided as cyanocobalamin because of its relative stability and safety profile. Because the stability and safety of cyanocobalamin is well established, the supplement is often used even as a placebo in clinical trials.

Enough vitamin B12 intake daily supports a healthy brain, nervous system, heart, as well as cell metabolism, but can one get too much? Studies have found no known toxicity even when provided in extremely high doses (e.g. 1 mg per day for a year). For this reason, there also has been no Tolerable Upper intake Level (UL) set to distinguish the amount that may cause adverse effects.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), “no adverse effects have been associated with excess vitamin B12 intake from food and supplements in healthy individuals”.

Recently, one study suggested that older adults taking large doses of vitamin B12 may be supporting memory and thinking as they age.

For more information about this topic and other health and wealth related topics use the following websites




Yan Kung, Nozomi Ando, Tzanko I. Doukov, Leah C. Blasiak, Güneş Bender, Javier Seravalli, Stephen W. Ragsdale, Catherine L. Drennan. Visualizing molecular juggling within a B12-dependent methyltransferase complex. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature10916

For more information about this topic and other health and wealth related topics use the following websites:


Horne BD et al. Relation of Routine, Periodic Fasting to Risk of Diabetes Mellitus, and Coronary Artery Disease in Patients Undergoing Coronary Angiography. Am J Cardiol. 2012;xx:xxx. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.01.379.

Horne BD, et al. Usefulness of routine periodic fasting to lower risk of coronary artery disease among patients undergoing coronary angiography. Am J Cardiol. 2008. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.05.021


About Jerry on Health2Money
I am an executive with an internet-based food company in health and wellness. The company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Arizona with about $300 million in annual sales in 8 markets (US & Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong & Taiwan).

One Response to Are You Getting Enough of the “Gymnast” Vitamin?

  1. Pingback: Vitamin D Keeps You Alive Longer If You Have Heart Trouble. Another Reason To Get Out In the Sun. « Human Body Engineer

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