A new study published in the Journal of Urology reports that vitamin B12 level in plasma (a method of estimating circulating vitamin B12 levels in the blood) in mammalian cells continues to decrease into adulthood despite nutritional therapy.

This new study is from the Centre for BrainHealth sponsored by the Mind and Mind Disorder Research Foundation (MMRF) following efforts by the MMRFs Gene Origins and Prevention Research Center (GOREC) Conference which was held in Newcastle upon Tyne UK and involved doctors from Sweden Kenya and the United States.

Vitamin B12 is an essential element in the diet and a component of cell DNA and is important in the regulation of metabolism and blood cholesterol. According to the European Food Safety and Safety Agency (EFSA) levels of one gram of vitamin B12 in the blood are considered an estimate unless a clinical letter of dietary restriction has been verified. In the event of a clinical need a detectable level of vitamin B12 would be considered a clinically important finding.

The findings of this study are consistent with previous findings on the role of vitamin B12 in adult mammalian cells and animal studies have suggested that folate levels in circulating body fluids (the plasma) are lower in persons diagnosed with schizophrenia and in persons with Alzheimers disease.

Professor Michael Kirkbride Senior Author from the University of Portsmouth said: We already knew that vitamin B12 levels in plasma persist in healthy post-menopausal women. Our study is the first to look at if this vitamin increases as postmenopausal women age. Our findings suggest that vitamin B12 levels remain lower in healthy postmenopausal women at normal blood levels (salt-water challenge). While we must remember that this is an observational study and so cannot establish cause we must say that our findings repeat what was previously known about elevated plasma vitamin B12 levels in stroke survivors.

This is inconsistent with earlier studies in healthy youth. For mean levels in plasma prior to binge eating a doubling of the plasma vitamin B12 level of vitamin B12 levels did not identify any clinically important effect for binge feeding or on serum lipids supporting the idea that Vitamin B12 is not a major driver of cardiovascular disease risk seen in obese people in particular problematic with respect to lipids. Further research is required but this is an interesting finding given it counters earlier findings. It also highlights the implications of inadequate blood levels of the vitamin.

Most dietary supplements are fortified with vitamin B12. Our study is the first to directly show that supplementation with at least 10 milligrams of vitamin B12 made no difference by age in renal function. In our young population vitamin B12 levels were not significantly increased by 150 mg a day of vitamin B12 supplementation in contrast with over 600 mg the equivalent dose of vitamin B12 supplements in elderly populations.

The lead author on the study from the University of Portsmouth Dr Andrew Stokely said:

I would like to acknowledge the generous gifts of their support that have enabled our team in the UK to be able to carry out this study. We would not have had the opportunity to start this study without these generous support. We hope this makes us feel worthwhile and proud to have helped them get here.

The study is published in the Journal of Urology.