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Robby Gardner is a freelance journalist in Los Angeles, specializing in fresh produce and health food ingredients.
44Originally Published NO May 2010
The general consensus surrounding vitamin B12 is twofold: its importance to the average diet is high, and it can be difficult to absorb. B12 deficiency is no joke, with links to anemia, dementia, and other symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, and depression. Studies have shown high rates of B12 deficiency in various populations, including elders and vegetarians.
Consumers generally look to meat, dairy, and eggs for natural B12 sources, as well as multivitamins or B12 injections. But concern around how efficient some of these common B12 sources are has led to the launch of a unique alternative: Revitapop, touted as the market's only vitamin B12 lollipop.
Winner of VegNews's best vegetarian product at Natural Products Expo West 2010, Revitapop makes supplementing with B12 fun.
"We were targeting the autism community and the fact that children with autism often have difficulty with B12 metabolism," says David Dobkin, Revitapop (Tarzana, CA) operating manager. "This is just a fun and easy way to supplement with B12-one of the many vitamins being given to these kids."
B12 in a lollipop can be fun for any consumer, but Dobkin insists that the candy format wasn't chosen for fun and games. "The lollipop keeps the vitamin directly in contact with the tongue," says Dobkin, "which allows for greater absorption of methylcobalamin directly into the nervous system." Science suggests that methylcobalamin, the most bioavailable and neurologically active form of B12, could have better absorption rates through the tongue (via the trigeminal nerve) compared to other administration methods.
The methylcobalamin in Revitapop may hold another, more notable advantage over other B12 sources, too. This methyl form of B12 differs from other types of B12, the most common being cyanide-based B12, or cyanocobalamin, which is commonplace in animal and multivitamin B12 sources. For cyanocobalamin to be metabolized and used by the body, it must turn into methylcobalamin by dropping its cyanide group. Only after this transformation can vitamin B12 then perform its proposed health benefits. By providing B12 directly in its methyl form, Revitapop offers B12 in a form fit for function.
Available science tells us that those functions are numerous. B12 helps maintain blood cell formulation, a healthy nervous system, and even DNA synthesis. Another role it plays is in the metabolism of many human cells, including carbohydrates. This is why B12 is commonly found in energy beverages across the market. Another area of high interest to the scientific community is B12's ability to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in our blood. High homocysteine levels have been linked to stroke incidence, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and other health conditions.
B12 warrants further scientific research into its health benefits, but the available science tells us just how critical this vitamin could be to our overall nutrition.