Children's Brains Are Hungry for B12 Too

Children's Brains Are Hungry for B12 Too

When Is "Cancer" Really Cancer? Reading Children's Brains Are Hungry for B12 Too 7 minutes Next Back-to-School Health Tips

It's a well known fact that essential fatty acids are important for brain function — especially for kids' developing minds. But that's not the whole story. Supplementing your child's diet with essential fatty acids like fish oil is great, but what if there's still something not quite right?

Is your child having trouble concentrating? Have you noticed that they seem tired all the time? It could be a lack of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is absolutely critical to help the body metabolize essential fatty acids. In other words, without B12, the fatty acids can't do their job in your child's brain. B12 helps with energy production, too. But most importantly, B12 is necessary to help keep nerves healthy. And nerves, of course, are necessary for proper brain function.

Why Children Also Need B12

B vitamins have been used by nutritionally minded practitioners to alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, and learning disabilities for decades. There's even a new book called Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses by Jeffrey J. Stuart and Sally M. Pacholok that suggests lack of B12 could be misdiagnosed as ADHD. When you're on The Hallelujah Diet, a lot of attention is put on vitamin B12 supplementation because people on a plant-based diet typically have low levels of vitamin B12. However, this not exclusively true of those on a plant-based diet anymore; anyone can have low B12 — even kids.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported in 2000 that 39% of individuals tested had low-to-normal levels of B12 in their blood; 17% had levels low enough to cause symptoms of deficiency. Why? Because B12 starts out as bacteria growing on the ground, which the human gut converts to the B12 vitamin by eating raw vegetables or eating the meat of animals that eat grass (with bacteria growing on it naturally). But because of antibiotic use, stress, and the unnatural, over-sanitized way meat and dairy is produced these days, the B12-producing bacteria is hard to come by. In short, supplementation with B12 is important for everyone.

But there so many options — swallowed tablets, sublingual (under-the-tongue) tablets, liquids, and now skin patches — which one is best? First, you have to pay close attention to what you're getting. There are cheap B12 vitamins and quality ones. The cheap ones are called cyanocobalamin. This is a synthetic form of B12 that your body cannot use until it converts it through methylation; and since cyanocobalamin does not have the necessary "methyl group" built in, it has to take it from somewhere else in the body. In short, if the label says "B12 (as cyanocobalamin)" or similar, you're stealing from Peter to pay Paul within your body.

What Type of B12 Works Best?

The type of B12 you want is called methylcobalamin. This type is bioavailable (methylation is built in), which means your body can absorb and use it immediately. Obviously, this is better. Now, these days there are a lot of good options like  Hallelujah Diet Omega-3 Fish Oil and B12, B6 & Folate supplements. To make sure you're getting what you need, pay attention to what you're reading. There's been a lot of buzz lately about B12 patches. It certainly sounds convenient (just put an adhesive patch behind your ear), but are these superior to sublingual tablets? No one knows yet whether the skin actually absorbs more than the receptors under your tongue will (about 10 mcg from a 1,000 mcg tablet).

B Vitamins and B12 in Medical Studies

As far as patches being "proven" there has been only one B12 patch study (that we could find) with 4 study participants. Claiming superiority with only one, small study is iffy at best.

 We prefer B12 in a sublingual tablet form. It's just as easy as a patch, it's very affordable, and there are 11 studies to back it up (see a list below). In addition to B12, research has also demonstrated the benefit of a combination of B12/B6/Folic Acid (aka folate or B9) to optimize homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine is associated with the number one cause of death — cardiovascular disease — and other chronic diseases. While there is no deficiency of folic acid (folate) on The Hallelujah Diet, there may be significant benefits to supplementing B12 in a sublingual combination with B6 and folic acid. That's why Hallelujah Diet B12 supplements also include B6 and B9 (folic acid/folate). So, to recap:

  • Make sure your B12 supplement is methylcobalamin 
  • Make sure there are other B vitamins in the mix (unlike most B12 patches)
  • Remember that tablets have been proven to work in at least 11 studies
Now go feed your brain! :) Which B12 supplement do you prefer: tablet, liquid, needle, or patch? Scroll below the related articles to comment!
B12 study references (courtesy of Dr. Michael Donaldson, Hallelujah Diet Research Director):
1. Andrès E, Mecili M. Oral Vitamin B12 Therapy. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2011;18(S3):196–198. doi:10.1245/s10434-011-1861-6.
2. Blacher J, Czernichow S, Raphaël M, et al. Very Low Oral Doses of Vitamin B-12 Increase Serum Concentrations in Elderly Subjects with Food-Bound Vitamin B-12 Malabsorption. J Nutr. 2007;137(2):373–378. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2013.
3. Bolaman Z, Kadikoylu G, Yukselen V, Yavasoglu I, Barutca S, Senturk T. Oral versus intramuscular cobalamin treatment in megaloblastic anemia: A single-center, prospective, randomized, open-label study. Clinical Therapeutics. 2003;25(12):3124–3134. doi:10.1016/S0149-2918(03)90096-8.
4. Bor MV, Çetin M, Aytaç S, Altay Ç, Ueland PM, Nexo E. Long term biweekly 1 mg oral vitamin B12 ensures normal hematological parameters, but does not correct all other markers of vitamin B12 deficiency. A study in patients with inherited vitamin B12 deficiency. Haematologica. 2008;93(11):1755–1758. doi:10.3324/haematol.13122.
5. Castelli MC, Friedman K, Sherry J, et al. Comparing the Efficacy and Tolerability of a New Daily Oral Vitamin B12 Formulation and Intermittent Intramuscular Vitamin B12 in Normalizing Low Cobalamin Levels: A Randomized, Open-Label, Parallel-Group Study. Clinical Therapeutics. 2011;33(3):358–371.e2. doi:10.1016/j.clinthera.2011.03.003.
6. Dhonukshe-Rutten RA, Zutphen M van, Groot LC de, Eussen SJ, Blom HJ, Staveren WA van. Effect of supplementation with cobalamin carried either by a milk product or a capsule in mildly cobalamin-deficient elderly Dutch persons. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(3):568–574. Available at: Accessed August 12, 2013.
7. Hill MH, Flatley JE, Barker ME, et al. A Vitamin B-12 Supplement of 500 μg/d for Eight Weeks Does Not Normalize Urinary Methylmalonic Acid or Other Biomarkers of Vitamin B-12 Status in Elderly People with Moderately Poor Vitamin B-12 Status. J Nutr. 2013;143(2):142–147. doi:10.3945/jn.112.169193.
8. Hoey L, Strain JJ, McNulty H. Studies of biomarker responses to intervention with vitamin B-12: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(6):1981S–1996S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27230C.
9. Kim H-I, Hyung WJ, Song KJ, Choi SH, Kim C-B, Noh SH. Oral Vitamin B12 Replacement: An Effective Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency After Total Gastrectomy in Gastric Cancer Patients. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2011;18(13):3711–3717. doi:10.1245/s10434-011-1764-6.
10. Kuzminski AM, Giacco EJD, Allen RH, Stabler SP, Lindenbaum J. Effective Treatment of Cobalamin Deficiency With Oral Cobalamin. Blood. 1998;92(4):1191–1198. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2013.
11. Sharabi A, Cohen E, Sulkes J, Garty M. Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003;56(6):635–638.

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