SpectraCell Blog

Vitamin B12: Function, Deficiency Symptoms and Repletion

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 @ 04:13 PM

Vitamin B12Function:

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is needed to form blood and immune cells, and support a healthy nervous system. A series of closely-related compounds known collectively as cobalamins or vitamin B12 are converted into active forms methylcobalamin or 5’-deoxyadenosylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin interacts with folate metabolism, preventing folate derivatives from being trapped in unusable states. Adenosylcobalamin is involved in the metabolism of odd-chain fatty acids and branchedchain amino acids.

Deficiency Symptoms:

Deficiency symptoms of vitamin B12 are both hematological (pernicious anemia) and neurological. A megaloblastic anemia may occur because the effects of the vitamin B12 deficiency on folate metabolism. Shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, irritability, sore tongue, decrease in blood cell counts (red, white and platelets) are all clinical signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Neurological symptoms are manifested as a progressive neuropathy, with loss of position sense and ataxia. If vitamin B12 repletion is not initiated, permanent neurological damage, including degeneration of nerves and spinal cord can result. Recent evidence suggests that mental symptoms of depression and fatigue are detectable before anemia develops. Vitamin B12 is necessary to prevent accumulation of homocysteine, a toxic metabolic byproduct linked to cardiovascular disease and connective tissue abnormalities. Hypochlorhydria and gastrointestinal disturbances are frequently associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.

Repletion Information:

Dietary sources for cobalamins are strictly from animal foodstuffs. Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foodstuffs. Dietary supplements can also contain vitamin B12 The 1989 RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.0 μg for adults. No toxic effects of oral vitamin B12 intake have been demonstrated, even in doses over 1000 μg daily. Since the absorption and intracellular activation of oral vitamin B12 are frequently difficult, consideration should be given to injectable forms of vitamin B12. Some patients may require more frequent or larger doses than usual before repletion occurs.


Topics: SpectraCell, micronutrient testing, Homocysteine, Fatigue, Vitamin B12, deficiency, Depression, Neurology, Cobalamin, Metabolism

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Oct 20, 2010 @ 03:44 PM

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids are nutrients absolutely necessary for human health. Since our bodies cannot synthesize omega 3 fatty acids, it is essential that we obtain them from our diets, hence they are commonly called essential fatty acids. The most common source of omega 3 fats is coldwater fatty fish such as salmon, but other sources include seafood, nuts, eggs and fish oil supplements.

There are two major omega 3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – that have gained considerable attention in recent years because they seem to benefit almost every organ system in our bodies.

Mood DisordersDepression and Mental Clarity:

The majority (about 60%) of our brain and nerves are composed of fats, and it is well documented that poor fatty acid status contributes to both the incidence and severity of depression1151.

EPA and DHA are the most predominant omega-3 fatty acids in our brains and consequently, the most biologically relevant when it comes to mental health251. High DHA concentrations, for example, enhance serotonin, a feel-good hormone that gives a sense of well being. Impaired mental focus, disturbed sleep patterns and other common depressive symptoms often respond well to fatty acid supplementation.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (n6:n3) is equally important. Studies show that the more severe the depression, the higher the n6:n3 ratio typically is, but also the more effective fatty acid (or fish oil) supplementation can be.

Topics: SpectraCell, HS-Omega-3 Index, DHA, Depression, EPA