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Learn to use supplements correctly. When are they useful when just expensive urine. We try to navigate through the jungle of supplements and show valuable tips and tricks how to lift and improve certain blood values even without supplements.

Dietary supplements – probably one of the fastest growing and most profitable industries there is. Countless companies offer THEIR preparations on the market. From cheap all-rounders or multivitamins to very expensive single vitamins and special supplements, which you can only buy in certain regions and stores … How should a normal person see through this? Which iron preparation is now vegan; which is best absorbed by the body; which B12 is now artificial and which natural? Can one get along also completely without these expensive and laborious pills?

These and more questions we would like to explain in this and other articles. Certainly we do not go into all vitamins and not as detailed as in some books – otherwise this article would be too long. But we want to illustrate this topic so well that afterwards you will know what is necessary and what is just expensive urine.

Many doctors look askance when they hear that you want to eat a vegan diet. Already come the sayings like: “Yes, where do you get your vitamin B12?”, “You certainly get too little iron”, “Where do you want to get the Omega 3 in sufficient mass? And so on and so forth.

But are these statements true at all, or are they just scaremongering facts to make money?

The fact is that everyone needs vitamins, minerals, trace elements, etc.. However, one cannot generally say that every person needs the same amount of vitamins, trace elements and the rest. For example, you cannot compare a pregnant woman with a 3-year-old child or a top athlete with a 70-year-old pensioner.

Every age or every stage of life – i.e. the different circumstances – brings with it different needs. That’s why you can’t lump everyone together in the same way. But are there vitamins that are missing in a specifically vegan diet? In every case? No, that doesn’t have to be the case either. If one is sufficiently concerned with the subject of nutrition and has all the necessary nutrients also really available in the food, one could supply oneself under good circumstances also completely without food supplements. ONLY, there is one exception, which I would now like to explain in more detail in my first article. This vitamin is very critical. Not only in the vegan world, but also with mixed foodists. Here, a supply of food supplements is almost unavoidable. We speak of …

Why supplement

We don’t actually find vitamin B12 in plant food, because vitamin B12 comes from bacteria that produce vitamin B12. Soil samples have shown that soils that are not too heavily polluted with chemicals have a lot of such B12-producing bacteria. This explains why people in the rural areas of India do not know of B12 deficiency or this deficiency is practically unknown and this even with years of vegan diet. Unfortunately, we have deprived ourselves of this opportunity because our plants are hardly ever eaten directly in nature, but we wash, peel or clean them in other ways. In the process, these valuable bacteria are lost. Our industry has produced bigger and more stable fruits and also vegetables, but it has “cleaned” the soil by the poisons and chemicals in such a way that they contain no or hardly any vitamin B12, which thus makes a normal supply impossible for us. Function Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin and responsible for many functions in the body. It is particularly important in nerve formation (including for the synapses in the brain). It also plays a decisive role in blood formation. A deficiency of vitamin B12, for example, can lead to pernicious anemia. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. They protect the nerve cords, spinal cord and brain. It is also relevant in the breakdown of homocysteine.

Processing in the body

Each vitamin has its own specific processing pathway in the body. That’s why we can’t go into it too deeply here. But there are two factors why I personally think the processing of this vitamin is so important. Vitamin B12 must go through five major steps before it is broken down. 1. the first is already in the mouth. With the transport protein produced in the salivary gland called haptocorrin (HC), this HC is transported on to the stomach with the vitamin B12 complex. 2. Once there, the B12 protein complex is detached from the protein by the pepsin produced in the stomach. Now detached again, the haptocorrin and the now free B12 form a new bond. This binding is called B12 haptocorrin complex. At the same time, an intrinsic factor is released in the stomach cells. This is also known as IF. 4. 4. both are passed on into the small intestine. During the whole process that has taken place so far, the pancreas releases trypsin to cleave the B12-HC complex. Once the cleavage has occurred and the B12-HC complex has cleaved, the B12 that is now free again assembles with the intrinsic factor that has formed in the stomach cells. Now we have the B12-IF complex. 5. Now the B12 is also ready for absorption into the bloodstream, because in the last section of the small intestine (ileum) the B12-IF complex docks with the IF receptors and can thus be absorbed into the bloodstream via the small intestine.

Not so easy, is it? Not only is the pathway of the B12 vitamin complex but so are the circumstances why deficiencies may occur in the body. For example, an inflammation of the gastric mucosa, an inflamed pancreas or an insufficiently chewed meal can lead to the B12 not being absorbed properly.

How much do I need?

As already mentioned, different people need different amounts of B12. However, the body itself can only absorb 1.5-2.5µg per 4-6h. Ideally, this means a maximum of 15µg per day. The limited receptors for B12 absorption are the decisive reason for the staggered absorption times. It is important to know that there is a daily intake of vitamin B12 and an intake in case of an acute B12 deficiency.

Let’s assume you are well supplied, but want to keep within a good range with a daily or weekly B12 supplement. Then the following guidelines apply to you:

For people who have absorption difficulties due to age or medication, the B12 supplement should not be taken immediately after, before or during a meal. At least 1 hour should elapse between meals and B12 intake. For such individuals, sublingual intake would probably be the most appropriate. The B12 can be absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth.

In my opinion, it is also better to take the dosage daily instead of weekly. Since the high dosage does not change the absorption. Per intake of the supplement, as already mentioned, the body can absorb only 1.5-2.5µg, which means that if more is taken per intake, the body can still absorb only this mentioned amount. Therefore, you can absorb more B12 if you spread the doses over several times. Most of the time this is not so practical in everyday life, that is why a higher dose once a day is the easiest. Again, through so-called passive diffusion, the body can absorb the excess B12 at about 1-3% of the total intake. Thus, with a daily overdose of 150µg, about 1.5-4.5µg can be passively absorbed. This is sufficient for a good supply in most cases.

However, if you do not want to suplement your requirement – i.e. do not want to take tablets or drops, but only try to cover your requirement with fortified products – you have to calculate daily and pay attention to the intake. It is easier with a daily or weekly B12 supplementation.

If you would like to take a preparation once a day, you should make sure that you get your daily B12 intake. This is about 3µg per day as discussed. You get this with the direct absorption of 1.5µg and a passive intake of 1-3% of the total volume of B12. This 1-3% should be at least 1.5µg. Always calculate it with the smallest possible percentage, i.e. 1%. So to reach this 1.5µg you would have to take 150µg total volume. Add to this a safety margin of 100µg. But this would also only be the calculation for the best available cyanocobalamin. When taking methylcobalamin, doubling would be advisable, as this type of B12 has less stability.

For people who have had gastrointestinal surgery or people over 50, a higher dose of about 500µg/day of cyanocobalamin or twice the amount of a coenzyme form (methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin) is necessary. If one would like to calculate now not the daily but the weekly supply, the calculation looks already again differently. Take the minimum requirement of 3µg per day, multiply this by 7 for the weekdays (21µg), subtract the 1.5µg of the active intake of the single dose and calculate again how high the dose should be so that the 1% can provide the remaining units of 19.5µg. In this case, that would be 1950µg. If you add a safety margin here, you arrive at the 2000µg of cyanocobalamin or 4000µg units of methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin per week.

Find defects

So how can you tell if you are suffering from a deficiency? There are several tests you can do. Here we present the four most common methods.

Aber zuerst möchten wir Ihnen noch die körperlichen Symptome erläutern, die bei einem B12 Mangel erscheinen. Dazu zählen folgende Bereiche:

  • Sensory disturbances up to paralysis

  • burning tongue

  • tingling in arms and legs

  • gait instability, increased tendency to fall

  • muscle weakness

  • fatigue, lack of concentration

  • Headaches

  • Depressio

 

Serum B12 test

This is the most common and cheapest test that can be done at the doctor. Unfortunately, it does not tell us very much about the real B12 level in our body. The total vitamin B12 test, the serum test, measures the active and the inactive B12 and can therefore falsify the results – i.e. provide the patient with misleading statements about the real B12 value – we do not recommend this test.

Holo-Transcobalamin II

As the name implies, this test measures only the part of the vitamin B12 that has bound to the aforementioned transport protein transcobalamin II. This B12 is active and therefore decisive for the status of active B12 values of the body. In contrast to the serum, the value drops faster in case of insufficient supply than the serum B12 test, which makes it a better early warning test. The HTC test, in inverse proportion, also quickly indicates when levels are recovering or when there is an absorption problem. This could indicate a problem in the gastointernal system.

Methylmalonic acid (MMA)

If you would rather know whether the supply of B12 to the cells is working, you can do a urine test. This MMA test shows you whether there is a high or low level of methylmalonic acid in the body. If there is a low level of methylmalonic acid in the urine, the supply in the cells is guaranteed. However, if the MMA level is elevated, this may very likely indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, this test cannot be used preventively, as it indicates a lowered B12 level only at a very late stage.

Homocystein

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is harmless in our body in small amounts, but at higher levels it can be toxic to our nerve cells and blood vessels. B12 acts in the degradation of this amino acid and in the conversion back to the original form methionine. One could now conclude from this statement that an elevated level of homocysteine in the blood is due to a B12 deficiency – unfortunately, this is not the case, because a deficiency of fohlsäure (B9) and pyridoxine (B6) can also cause this, because these are also involved in the breakdown of homocysteine. However, since this test is also not an early warning test, it is not suitable for preventive evaluation.

We recommend that you perform an HTC test (holo-transcobalamin test). This is the most informative test and gives you the best information about your current condition.