The Science Behind: ‘Synthelamin – Appetite Stimulator’

The human body requires thirteen different vitamins to maintain health and sustain life. These molecules participate in many thousands of chemical reactions which play significant roles in building tissue and maintaining the functional vitality of organs. Vitamins participate in processes that ultimately provide the body with useable energy, eliminate toxins, protect against infection, repair cellular damage and invoke inter-cellular communication. The human body unable to synthesize vitamins must for the most part acquire them from food. Some vitamins are fat-soluble and once ingested are readily stored while others are water-soluble and incapable of accumulation. Failure to take in, absorb and make use of sufficient amounts of each vitamin brings about a deficiency which in turn leads to disease and eventually the possibility of death…

One of the thirteen vitamins is water-soluble vitamin B12 known as cobalamin. Cobalamin is an unusual molecule and unlike any of the other twelve vitamins contains a trace element – cobalt. It is “nature’s most complex non-polymer molecule and the most complex of the vitamins and enzymatic co-factors.” 1 Although cobalamin is present in diets containing meats and dairy products and its daily requirement in man is miniscule (4 micrograms) forty percent (40%) of the U.S. population, young and old have low to deficient levels.” 2

Researchers at Tufts University analyzing data from the very comprehensive Framingham Offspring Study 2 found no association between plasma B12 and meat, poultry and fish intake, even though those foods supply the bulk of B12 in the American diet. In the words of one researcher “It’s not because people aren’t eating enough meat. The vitamin isn’t getting absorbed”. 2

Very few doctors seem to be aware of the diversity of problems that can come about from inadequate levels of Vitamin B12. Part of this failure resides in the belief that B12 deficiency is simply a blood disorder and as a result B12 is examined only within the context of anemia. As a consequence inadequate levels of vitamin B12 can develop and damage brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and optic nerves well before blood abnormalities manifest themselves.

This failure of misdiagnosis is further explained by the regularity of which symptoms of deficiency mimic those of dementia, psychosis, depression, vertigo, tremor, neuropathy, recurrent miscarriages, infertility, vision loss, fatigue, dizziness, autistic-like disorders, etc.

Perhaps the primary reason doctors roll their eyes at the mention of vitamin B12 is they are programmed to react that way. Vitamin B12 many decades ago was over prescribed for “whatever ails you”. Country doctors increased revenue by over-selling it to patients. Over time a taint developed which stuck to vitamin B12. No legitimate well-educated doctor wants to be involved in the selling of tonics and today that stigma is associated with Vitamin B12.

What has slowly been scientifically emerging though and is not widely disseminated in the medical community is that cobalamin is involved integrally in neurologic, hematologic, immunologic, metabolic, vascular and reproductive functions such as:

cellular division and transmission of the genetic code to all newly formed cells through production of both DNA and RNA (most evident in bone marrow and myeloid cells);
enzymatic reactions (primarily methyl group transfer and transfer of a hydrogen atom from one carbon to an adjacent carbon atom);
synthesis of nucleic acids, the transmethylation of amino acids and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids;
maintenance of a healthy nervous system (by maintaining the myelin surrounding nerves);
proper functioning of folic acid by assisting in converting the amino acid homosysteine into methionine. If B12 is not present folic acid becomes trapped, which leads to dangerous elevations in toxic homocysteine.
It is the failure of cobalamin to carry out its role in these vital functions that leads to medical symptoms often mistaken for more untreatable diseases such as multiple sclerosis. If left unremedied vitamin B12 deficiency can eventually reduce the body to a state of permanent disability.

The complexity of the absorption and transport process lends itself to the potential for failed cobalamin uptake in everyone. The following people however seem to be at greatest risk of deficiency:

Users of:
metformin (glucophage) and similar diabetic drugs;
stomach acid suppressors (proton-pump inhibitors, H2-blockers, antacids);
certain drugs(Questran, Colchicine, Neomycin, Dilantin, potassium chloride, para-aminosalicylates)
People who:
are Vegetarians;
have had any gastric or intestinal surgery;
have undergone surgeries or dental procedures involving nitrous oxide;
are over the age of sixty;
have a family history of pernicious anemia;
have intestinal diseases (Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac, malabsorption of nutrients, etc.);
have autoimmune disorders especially thyroid and type 1 diabetes;
have undergone certain radiologic cancer treatments;
Women with histories of infertility or miscarriages; and
Infants born to and breast fed by women who are deficient.
Yet everyone, irregardless of age or apparent health possesses the potential to become deficient. Uptake of vitamin B12 seems to be bit by bit, while certain events (most inflammations for instance) can lead to a draining of vitamin B12 which is not always replenished by dietary uptake.

This is such a crucial point that it is worth reemphasizing. One of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken was the Framingham Offspring Study which examined about 3,000 men and women who were the children of people in an original study (Framingham study) that focused on cardiovascular disease risk factors. Researchers analyzed that data and found that thirty-nine percent (39%) of the participants had plasma B12 levels in the “low normal” range – below 258 picomoles per liter. As the study leader Katherine L. Tucker pointed out, “this is above the currently accepted deficiency level of 148 pmol/L however some people exhibit neurological symptoms at the upper level of the deficiency range”. 2 Katherine L. Tucker is very well respected in her field. She is a nutritional epidemiologist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. When she states “I think there’s a lot of undetected vitamin B12 deficiency out there” 2 it is significant. The results of the study found that the youngest group, the 26 to 49 year olds had about the same vitamin B12 status as the oldest group, 65 years and up 2.

So pay attention, because this article speaks to either you or someone you care about.

1 – Wheatley, Carmen, A scarlet pimpernel for the resolution of inflammation? The role of supra-therapeutic doses of cobalamin, in the treatment of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic or traumatic shock, Medical Hypotheses (2006) 67, 124–142
2 – Tufts University Researchers analyzing data from the Framingham Offspring Study, discussed in B12 deficiency may be more widespread than thought,Judy McBride, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, August 2, 2000
3 – In general: The writings, reports and internet postings of Sally M. Pacholok, R.N. (a studied expert on the topic of Vitamin B12 Misdiagnoses)
4 – In general: Drawn from my reading of the articles cited herein.

It was established more than half a century ago that Vitamin B12 intake increases feelings of hunger in both humans and animals which leads to increased food intake and the potential for subsequent growth.

In a study carried out by Wetzel, vitamin B12 was orally administered to children who were in various states of recovery from growth failure or who exhibited slow progress. The study found that the “clinical changes after B12 administration were those of increased physical vigor, alertness, better general behavior, but above all, a definite increase in appetite, manifested by demands for second helpings, as contrasted with comparatively indolent food habits before” 1. Increases in the appetites of children were found in several other studies during this time period specifically attributable to vitamin B12 8,9,11.

In pigs, the addition of vitamin B12 was found to increase daily feeding per from 2.57 pounds of food and an average weight gain of .87 pounds per day to that of 3.21 lbs of feed consumption and a 1.2 lb per day body weight gain. These results led the authors to conclude that “the significantly greater gains made by pigs in lot 2 were [likely] due to the addition of vitamin B12 concentrate” 2.

In a study carried out in mice, the authors noted that “the difference in growth rate resulting from the administration of increasing amounts of vitamin B12 is very striking… Increasing the daily administration of vitamin B12 from 0.001 to 0.01 grams resulted in a growth increment during the 15-day test period of approximately 4 grams in the case of the thyroid-fed mice but of only 1 gram in the low fat group. This increase in growth rate was attributed to B12′s effect at increasing food intake”. 3

Although the ratio is not specifically relevant to humans, it is interesting to note that in pigs it was found that vitamin B12 administered orally required dosages 5 to 10 times higher than administration by injection to achieve the same effect4.

In another study involving rats receiving vitamin B12 and eating ad libitum, it was found that they grew more rapidly, ate more of the diet and retained more nitrogen than their controls. The conclusion of the study was that Vitamin B12 was associated with increased growth, food intake and nitrogen balance 5.

In an early study involving humans and the entire vitamin B complex, a supplementary ingestion of approximately 150 units of vitamin B (representing an increase of about 50% in the daily vitamin B intake) produced increases of from 17 to 25% in the grams of food consumed per child per day. The caloric ingestion during these periods of increased food consumption correlated to a slight degree with increased weight gains11.

So how does Vitamin B12 Increase Hunger?
There are probably multiple reasons. However one reason may be its participatory role in the conversion of Histamine to N-methylhistamine. As a methyl donor (meaning that chemically it gives up its methyl group), methylcobalamin reduces homocysteine to methionine (because homocysteine + methyl group = methionine) via a process known as “The Methionine Cycle”12.