Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that comes from meat products. 40% of people are deficient in this essential vitamin. Folinic acid is often confused with folic acid. Both are forms of folate (vitamin B9) but one is healthy, and one has many dangerous side effects. Folinic acid is the healthy form of folate, while folic acid is a dangerous synthetic.
Both B12 and B9 work together to promote optimal health and brain function. A deficiency in one can lead to a deficiency in the other so we need to take both B9 and B12.
This is why vitamin B12 and folinic acid are grouped together in Bulletproof’s list of 10 Supplements Everyone Needs.
While the supplement list doubles the recommended amount of folate, it increases the recommended dose of B12 by more than 2000x:
Health Canada’s Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA): 2.4 μg/day of B12 for adults, and 400 μg/day of folate (folinic acid) for adults
Bulletproof Recommended Supplement Dose: >5mg of B12 (methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin), and >800μg of folate (5-MTHF or folinic acid, NOT folic acid)
The RDA put out by Health Canada aims to keep people from becoming deficient. That doesn’t mean that you’ll see optimal benefits from these vitamins at the RDA. We will take an in depth look at these important vitamins, the side effects of being deficient, and how to add these two nutrients into our diet.
To start off here’s a look at what Bulletproof has to say about vitamin B12 and folate:
B-12 and Folinic Acid
Most people are deficient in B12. B12 can protect against dementia, increase immune function, maintain nerves, and regenerate cells. B12 lowers homocysteine and protects against atherosclerosis. It’s necessary for maintaining methylation reactions that repair DNA and prevent cancer. One of the most crucial areas for B12 is the brain.
Folate deficiency can also cause mental symptoms, although B12 is more likely to be a problem. Folate and B12 are both required for mental function, and a deficiency in one produces a deficiency in the other, but folate will not correct a B12 deficiency in the brain. If you make the mistake of treating B12 deficiency with folate, you can get permanent brain damage. (hear that, vegans?) Likewise, high amounts of folate without adequate B12 can cause neurological conditions. That’s why I take them together.
Dose: >5mg of methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin and >800mcg of folate (5-MTHF or folinic acid, NOT folic acid)
Time Taken: Doesn’t matter.
Recommended Brand: varies
Here is a great little video put together by Dr. Josh Axe. He outlines the signs of B12 deficiency, who is at the greatest risk of becoming deficient, and how you can improve your B12 levels. We’ve highlighted these points below:
Dr. Axe starts off by saying that 40% of people are B12 deficient today.
You may be B12 deficient if you struggle with any of the following:
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Lack of focus, or poor memory
- Poor cellular function
- If you’ve been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease like fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue
- Anemia, or if you’re light-headed when you stand up
- If you have a thyroid condition or adrenal gland issue
- If you get emotionally stressed out or frazzled easily
Next, Dr. Axe explained the biggest reasons that people are vitamin B12 deficient. They are as follows:
- People who do not have a healthy digestive system.
Some people are getting enough B12 but their body isn’t digesting it properly. This is because many people suffer from leaky gut. It’s caused by consuming things like gluten, or too much dairy. This can cause proteins to leak through your gut leading to malabsorption.
You aren’t what you eat, but what you digest.
If you have food allegories, bloating, acid reflux, or any other digestive issues, you may have a problem absorbing B12.
- Vegetarians and vegans are going to be B12 deficient if they don’t take a supplement. That is because B12 is only found in meat products. Veggies don’t make this important vitamin.
- Another reason people are B12 deficient is if they have a poor diet. If you don’t have enough probiotics in your diet you may not be absorbing B12. Probiotics help promote a healthy gut and increases the nutrient absorption.
Vitamin B12 is important for many reasons.
- It improves red blood cell formation, which is important for energy and heart health.
- It’s an important part of the cellular function, which keeps your body functioning.
- It supports the brain and nervous system.
- B12 deficiency has been linked to anxiety and depression.
You can naturally add B12 into your diet by eating:
- Chicken or beef liver (liver is also available in a capsule)
- Wild fish (sardines and tuna are both good sources)
- Grass fed beef and lamb
- Raw dairy products
Besides adding foods high in B12 into your diet, you should also make sure you’re absorbing your B12. If you take B12 and don’t absorb it then it’s useless. Taking a probiotic supplement will greatly increase your levels of B12 compared to just taking B12. Cutting out inflammatory foods is another good way to heal your gut and make sure you are absorbing your nutrients.
For some people, you will immediately notice you function better. Your energy levels will go up, adrenal glands will function better, and your mood will improve.
Another benefit of folate is that it helps with cancer prevention. Folate helps with DNA replication, it can prevent the cellular damage that leads to cancer. It can also help keep damaged cells from replicating.
Folate also helps lower your risk of heart disease. B9 can lower homocysteine, a compound linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Dr. Axe outlines the signs of folate deficiency on his website:
Some of the warning signs you may have folate deficiency symptoms include:
- Canker sores
- Pale skin
- Premature hair greying
- Stunted growth
- Tender, swollen tongue
While folic acid has the same positive effects as folinic, it has many negative side effects. Folic acid has been shown to increase your risk of developing cancer, and epilepsy. It can also lead to changes in sex drive, lack of focus, trouble sleeping, emotional swings, and vitamin B12 deficiency.
Good Whole Food Packed with Vitamin B12
Liver: 100g of beef liver contains 26μg of B12. It’s also packed with vitamin A, B2, B3, B6, B9, and iron. This is a great food to get in your diet because it has high levels of both B12 and B9 (folate). You’ll still need a lot more B12 to come anywhere close to the recommended dosage lined out in Bulletproof’s supplement list, but this is your best bet to naturally add B12 to your diet. Lamb liver has even more B12 with 76.5μg per 100g.
Sardines: These little fish are another source of vitamin B12. 100g contains 8.9μg so there is no way to come close to Bulletproof’s recommended dosage, but it’s good to get any vitamins you can from whole food. Sardines are also a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 and 6.
You can get B12 from other meat products but they are in fairly low quantities.
Good Whole Food Packed with Folate
Chickpeas: Canned chickpeas have 172μg per 100g. Most of the B9 is lost in the canning process so buy dried chickpeas and cook them yourself. Raw chickpeas have 557μg per 100g. That is more than your RDA and a good portion of what Bulletproof recommends. They are also a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Liver: As mentioned above, liver is another source of B9. Beef liver has 290μg and lamb liver has 73μg per 100g.
Asparagus: This tasty veggie has 149μg per 100g. It’s also a good source of vitamin K.
Vitamin B12 and Folate Supplements
Jarrow Formulas, Methyl B-12, Cherry Flavor, 5000 mcg, is one way to get Bulletproof’s recommended dosage of B12 in a single pill. Dissolve in mouth or chew 1 lozenge per day or as directed by your qualified healthcare professional.
Vitamin B Adrenal Complex is a supplement created by Dr. Axe and contains 200μg of B12. It also contains 250μg of folate and many other important nutrients. Read the nutrition label for a complete list.
Solgar, Folate (As Metafolin), 400 mcg, is another way to add good folate into your diet. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before adding a new vitamin to your diet.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals. Please consult with a doctor before adding/changing your dosage of any supplement in your diet. Take any supplements at your own risk.