Because of their role in the detoxification of homocysteine,
vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid
have all been recently added to our list of important bone-protecting nutrients.
Osteoblasts, the body’s bone-building cells, require an adequate supply of
B12, or their ability to function properly will be compromised. Vitamin B12 deficiency
anemia has been associated with osteoporosis,
and having low serum levels of vitamin B12 has also been associated recently with
odds of frailty in older women.
Following careful analysis of the Framingham Offspring Study in 2000, Tufts nutritional
epidemiologist Katherine Tucker concluded that B12 deficiency may be more widespread
than previously thought, with nearly 40% of the US population “flirting”
with marginal B12 status, according to the USDA website.
Vitamin B12 is not found in plants, but is abundant in animal protein. Yet vitamin
B12 deficiency in the US may be largely linked not so much to inadequate meat, poultry
and fish intake — the foods that supply the majority of dietary B12 —
but to problems with intestinal absorption. Of interest is that researchers have
found intestinal malabsorption to be a problem among the young and the old alike.
The problem may lie with inadequate stomach acid, which is required to cleave the
vitamin from the animal proteins to which it is tightly bound in food sources. In
older folks, the problems with B12 absorption could be due to a loss of active acid-secreting
cells in the stomach as we age. But in younger adults, Tucker speculates that the
problem could be resulting from the overuse of antacid tablets.
B12 is also one of the few vitamins biosynthesized by the “friendly”
flora in our intestines. Though production in the human intestines is not believed
to occur to any great degree, there is still a lot for us to learn about both B12
synthesis and absorption processes, and it is safe to say that maintaining healthy
gut flora is one way to encourage adequate vitamin B12 status as well as promote
good bone health. After all, the B12 we get from animal sources originally derives
from bacterial production, for instance in the rumen of cows.
Click here to return to 20 key bone health nutrients.
Start reducing your risk
of bone loss and fracture