Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) plays a role in supporting a healthy nervous system and promoting heart health because it contributes to maintaining homocysteine levels within the normal range. Supplementation with this vitamin can be especially important to those following a vegetarian diet and might also be more important to elderly people.
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, works together with folate and vitamin B6 to help maintain homocysteine levels within the normal range. Maintaining normal homocysteine levels is in turn important for heart health [9-12].
Cobalamin serum levels are reported to be significantly lower in elderly population groups compared to younger ones [2-5]. It is estimated that 10% to 30% of individuals over the age of 50 have low stomach acid secretion [6-7] which results in decreased bioavailability of vitamin B12 from food, making it more difficult to maintain normal homocysteine levels and support heart health.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is present in many different food sources of animal origin, including dairy products and eggs. Therefore, vegetarians are more susceptible to a dietary deficiency of this very important nutrient .
Cobalamin has also been shown to support nerve cell growth, cognition, and brain health in general. Together with folate it helps maintain the production of red blood cells within the normal range. Methylcobalamin is the bioactive form of B12 that is readily utilized by the body and the central nervous system.
The Institute of Medicine indicates that requirements can be met much easier if fortified foods such as fortified ready-to-eat breakfast cereals or supplements containing this vitamin are used routinely by consumers .
Methylcobalamin (cobalamin), a form of this vitamin, has been shown to support neurological function and normal brain cell activity. Methylcobalamin has also been shown to prompt healthy cognitive, memory, and emotional function . A deficiency of vitamin B12 can trigger the diminished synthesis of methionine synthase, the key enzyme responsible for the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. The result is a high level of serum homocysteine and a decreased level of methionine .
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