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Vitamin B12 – The Energy Panacea?

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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 07:54 AM
Original message
Vitamin B12 – The Energy Panacea?
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/vitamin-b...

"Having spent many hours working in close proximity to a wall of vitamins, I’ve answered a lot of vitamin questions, and given a lot of recommendations. Before I can make a recommendation, I need to ask some questions of my own. My first is almost always, “Why do you want to take a vitamin?” The most common response I’m given is “insurance” – which usually means supplementation in the absence of any symptom or medical need. Running a close second is “I need more energy.” With some digging, the situation usually boils down to a perceived lack of energy compared to some prior period: last week, last year, or a decade ago. While I may identify possible medical issues as a result of these interviews (these are referred to a physician), I’m often faced with a patient with mild and non-specific descriptions of fatigue. And more often than not, they’ve already decided that they’re going to buy a multivitamin supplement. When it comes to boosting the energy levels, they’re often interested in a specific one: Vitamin B12 (cobalamin). So why does vitamin B12, among all the vitamins, have a halo of benefit for fatigue and energy levels? The answer is part science and a whole lot of marketing.

As has been described repeatedly SBM, multivitamins have an impressive aura of benefit and safety that, by and large, hasn’t been substantiated. Beyond the multivitamins, there are dozens of single-ingredient vitamins that contain doses that greatly exceed anything you can pack into a multivitamin, and usually significantly exceed the Reference Daily Intake. While these products may be appropriate for those that actually need a specific supplement (e.g., high dose folic acid, or calcium) they also increase the potential for unanticipated effects, giving a much higher dose than the typical diet can provide.

How the single-agent vitamins are consumed when self-selected by consumers seems to be influenced more by perceptions of efficacy, rather than the underlying scientific evidence. Vitamin C is associated with preventing colds and influenza (though it doesn’t work) and may be shelved alongside the other cold remedies. The B Vitamins are considered to be the “stress” vitamins, based on the perceptions that these vitamins are more rapidly depleted in people who are more “stressed”. Multivitamins like Stresstabs trade on this image. Among the B vitamins, B12 is often held out as as an almost miraculous energy booster. It’s often marketed as a sublingual product – you place it under your tongue, presumably for rapid, extensive absorption.

...

While there is an important role for supplementing with vitamin B12 in some groups, high dose supplements to treat fatigue should be guided by a medical evaluation. For the energy seekers, supplementation in the absence of deficiency offers no benefits. Even in the deficient, B12 supplements won’t offer any sudden “boost” of energy: replacement and recovery takes time. Anyone concerned about their B12 intake should ensure they’re looking to dietary sources first. And for vegetarians and other at-risk groups, supplementing with B12 may be appropriate and science-based."


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It's worth reading the whole thing, if you have the time.

Just FYI.

:hi:
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Not Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. I had a very positive experience.
Not too long ago I was trying to lose some weight, and enlisted the nutritionist that is on the staff of my MD's office. He worked with me structuring a diet program that met my needs and in the course of the 10 weeks I received a B12 injection weekly. The effect of the b12 was nothing short of incredible. I had all kinds of energy, and he believes that it enhanced my metabolism. I lost almost 30lbs. and have kept it off. I may look into the sublingual b12 tabs.
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I have information suggesting that my entire family carries a gene
that may interfere with absorption of the B vitamins. My options are to get a very expensive test to see if I carry the gene, or to simply supplement with B vitamins to see if assorted chronic conditions resolve. I think the key concept is that supplementation with B vitamins improves things only if there is some problem with absorbing or getting enough B vitamins in the first place. Sort of like antibiotics won't do a thing for you if you're suffering from a virus.

I suspect that it may be some people need very large doses of B vitamins. I'm looking at the research on Vitamin D as an example. When researchers increased dosages slightly, they saw no changes. It was when they increased dosages greatly that they picked up changes with the outliers.
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Apparently a big percentage of people have that issue
The same thing was suspected in my son in law. There are some blood tests that give clues to this. He has been taking the methyl form of B12 and then they are retesting him soon--not direct tests, but things that are suspected correlations. It isn't widely known but about 25% of American males may have this issue. It isn't necessarily life threatening or anything, but they aren't as robustly healthy as they might otherwise be.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:57 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Can you link us to the research that indicates that "25 percent of American males..."
"... have this issue?"

Thanks!
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. no,
Just repeating what son in law's doctor said.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Seriously?
:shrug:
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 12:09 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. It may be a reference to the MTHFR gene. A lot of Europeans
carry one of two mutations to this gene. If you have two bad copies, you will have certain problems. If you have one bad copy, you may have other problems. As near as I can figure out, it's a situation of having one bad copy plus something else; another genetic problem or environmental exposure or whatever. Again, as far as I know, the problems associated with having a single bad copy involve so many other variables that it's just about impossible to say that this is a result of that. For example, maybe those migraines you have are associated with this, but they could also be associated with a dozen other factors. So 25% of American males may be carriers, but only a few of them may actually see any effects.

I think we are exiting the age of easy, binary medical research. For example, all children with extremely low levels of Vitamin D develop rickets. That's a nice, binary problem. But, some males with a moderately low level of Vitamin D develop prostate cancer. How do you prove that there's a connection there? Toss in the fact that black males have a higher rate of prostate cancer, and that in the US rates of prostate cancer increase as you go north, and you have a lot of circumstantial evidence, but to come up with a smoking gun? That may never happen.
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 09:38 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. that sounds about right
The doctor said it was best for him to supplement with the methylcobalamin type of B12. He didn't say it was a huge major problem for everyone, but that it was best to supplement in order to have robust health and avoid possible future serious issues. There was something about his blood tests that made him suspect this. Then retest after supplementation...........again, he said about 25% of Americans have this predisposition. Genetic tests are not practical because of expense.
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:06 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Maybe your boost of energy came from losing weight? n/t
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Not Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. Could be,,,
but at the time I was on a very low calorie (~600 cal/day) diet. And the problem that many people have it with this is that they don't have enough energy, hence the doctor uses B12 injections to keep energy levels and metabolism going.
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