If you have eliminated foods that trigger inflammation and are still having issues with high inflammation, then you may want to consider adding more vitamin B12 to your diet. Researchers in Spain found a link between low levels of vitamin B12 and high levels of two key inflammatory markers in both mice and humans.
Inflammation, which is often referred to as the silent killer, is associated with many health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some neurodegenerative diseases.
Vitamins B12 is an essential nutrient, which means it must be ingested because the body does not have the ability to make its own. A deficiency in vitamin B12 is associated with a number of health ailments and neurological conditions. Vegans and vegetarians are particularly susceptible to low vitamin B12 levels because it is generally found in high levels in the foods they tend to avoid.
Researchers from the University of Barcelona in Spain wanted to see how levels of vitamin B12 correlated to two molecules that reflect the amount of inflammation in the body – interleukin (IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP). They looked at a randomized group of participants from the PREDIMED trial which was designed to measure the effects of the Mediterranean diet on disease prevention. It looked at levels of vitamin B12 in the blood compared with the concentrations of inflammatory markers.
"Our study found that in general, the more vitamin B12 an individual has, the lower their inflammatory markers are—we call this an inverse relationship," explained study co-author Marta Kovatcheva. "With regards to vitamin B12 deficiency, we must point out that we did not specifically look at deficient individuals in this study. Nevertheless, our results raise some important questions. We already know that vitamin B12 deficiency can be harmful in many ways, but what we have reported here is a novel relationship. This might help us better understand why some unexplained symptoms of human B12 deficiency, like neurologic defects, occur."
Scientists found the same relationship between vitamin B12 and inflammatory markers in naturally aged mice. As humans age they are more susceptible to lower levels of vitamin B12 but the mice that were studied did not have their levels go down with age.
"We didn't know this before, and it poses the possibility that studying mice could potentially help us understand how we could prevent B12 deficiency in older humans," said Kovatcheva.
Researchers plan to continue exploring the link between vitamin B12 and inflammation as it relates to various health conditions.
"We already know that vitamin B12 deficiency is not good for an individual, and that dietary measures should be taken to correct it," said researcher Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós. "It will be interesting to understand if vitamin B12 supplementation can play a role in disease management."