Fish Oil + B12: Better Together
Both nutrients are common deficiencies in the West. Vitamin B12 is a major deficiency for vegetarians, as there are minimal B12-rich foods in most vegetarian diets. More commonly, however, medications and weak digestion render us deficient in B12.
Many medications, such as antacids, disturb production of stomach acid required to manufacture a protein called the intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor’s job it is to deliver B12 to the liver, brain, heart, and nervous system. The result is that even when B12 levels are low-normal, people can experience fatigue, brain fog, poor memory, loss of brain volume, and a host of other health concerns.3
In a handful of studies, low levels of B12 have been shown to shrink brain volume. That’s right—the size of the brain can shrink with low levels of B12!8
B12 shots were the solution to this for decades, but now sublingual (under-the-tongue) B12 supplements have been found as effective as shots.7,8
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Omega 3 Deficiency
Omega-3 fish oils are also a common deficiency, mostly because people have limited consumption of fish as a result of high mercury levels in most oceans, lakes, and streams. Years ago, fish was a dietary staple, but per FDA suggestion, fish consumption is way down.2
Fish oils have been shown to be bioactive compounds that support the heart, cardiovascular function, brain, and cognitive function.2 New research suggests a synergistic effect when B12 and omega-3 fish oils are taken together.
Combining Omega 3 + B12 for Lower Homocysteine
Constituents of both omega 3s and B12, taken on their own, have been shown to reduce homocysteine levels.5,6Elevated plasma homocysteine levels are associated with degenerative health concerns related to cardiovascular, cognitive, and bone issues, as well as complications with pregnancy.4
In the study, 30 men were divided into three groups:
- One group was given 1000mcg B12
- Another group received 2000mg fish oils
- A third group received 2000mg fish oils and 1000mcg B12
Before the study, and at four and eight week intervals, the groups were measured for homocysteine levels, as well as triglycerides and ferritin (to determine how well the body stores iron).
Homocysteine was lowered by 22% in the B12 group, and 19% in the fish oil group. But the group that received both B12 and fish oils saw a 39% reduction in homocysteine.1
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Should I Supplement with B12 + Fish Oil?
If you have been vegetarian, have weak digestion, have been on any medications long-term, restrict fish, and/or do not tolerate fats very well, consider supporting yourself with B12 (the best is sublingual to ensure absorption) and a high quality fish oil.
Both B12 and fish oils require a strong digestive system to break down and deliver them into the bloodstream. B12 requires a strong stomach acid to manufacture intrinsic factor, which carries it into the blood. Sublingual B12 supplements, such as LifeSpa’s B12 Boost, have been shown to be as effective as B12 shots.7
Fish oils require strong liver and gallbladder function to break down the fatty acids and absorb them effectively into the bloodstream. At LifeSpa, we use a molecularly distilled fish oil, Mini Omega, that is predigested into the bioavailable monoglyceride form, shown to deliver three times the EPA and DHA into the bloodstream.
Note: While elevated homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk for several health concerns, research is still inconclusive as to whether lowering homocysteine levels will help maintain optimal health on its own. Individuals concerned about hyperhomocysteinemia, generally defined as blood plasma concentrations above 15 µmol/L, should work with their healthcare practitioner to develop a holistic plan to address all potential causes of abnormally elevated levels.