Covering vitamin B₁₂ requirements with vitamin B₁₂ toothpaste

ProVeg has co-developed a toothpaste containing vitamin B12. But can such a toothpaste contribute to a better supply of this essential nutrient? Studies done by the Institute for Alternative and Sustainable Nutrition (IFANE) confirm the effectiveness of the vitamin B12 toothpaste, with the exclusive use of this toothpaste leading to an improvement in vitamin B12 levels.

About the Vitamin B12 toothpaste

The body directly absorbs the vitamin B12 contained in the toothpaste via the oral mucosa (the mucous lining of the mouth). Developed by ProVeg and Logocos,1)Sharabi, A., Cohen, E., Sulkes, J. and Garty, M. (2003), Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 56: 635–638. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01907.x use of the toothpaste improves the supply of vitamin B12 and guards against vitamin B12 deficiency. In 2011, IFANE conducted a study on the efficacy of the vitamin-B12-fortified toothpaste.

Study on the efficacy of the vitamin B12 toothpaste

In the first phase, the vitamin B12 levels of the 127 initial participants were determined on the basis of blood tests. The researchers measured the levels of vitamin B12 in the blood serum, as well as the levels of homocysteine and holotranscobalamin II (holoTC II).

Some of the participants, who suffered from a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, were advised to withdraw from the study and seek medical treatment. However, a number of them continued to participate in the study at their own risk in a separate group (therapy group) that used the toothpaste but did not make any other changes in terms of their consumption of Vitamin B12. This made it possible to examine the extent to which the toothpaste can counteract an acute deficiency.

The test subjects with normal values were randomly divided into two groups, one of which received the test toothpaste with vitamin B12 (experimental group) and the other a placebo toothpaste without vitamin B12 (control group).

After a five-week test phase, new blood samples were taken from all three groups. In total, 101 participants supplied the researchers with data from both blood tests.

Blood count confirms efficacy of the vitamin B12 toothpaste

The value for holoTC II, the most sensitive of the three measured indicators, improved by 65% on average (experimental group). Individuals with very low baseline levels (therapy group), experienced a more than triple increase in holoTC II levels. On average, serum concentrations of vitamin B12 rose by 50% in the therapy group, increased slightly in the experimental group, and decreased in the control group. A separate study, conducted by the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Magdeburg, showed a vitamin B12 build-up of 60% after 4 weeks of use.2)Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Magdeburg (2011): Test result with 2x daily application of a B12 toothpaste over a period of 4 weeks. [20.03.2018]

The placebo group, however, experienced a decrease in serum levels, while their holoTC II values did not change significantly. Values of homocysteine, a low amount of which is beneficial to health, fell slightly in both the experimental and the therapy group and increased slightly in the control group.3)IFANE (Institut für alternative und nachhaltige Ernährung) (2011): Wirkung einer mit Vitamin B12 angereicherten Zahnpasta auf den Vitamin B12-Status. Available at: http://ifane.org/forschung/abgeschlossene-projekte/ [20.03.2018]

The results show the high efficacy of ‘Sante Dental Med Toothpaste Vitamin B12 ’, fortified with 100 micrograms of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) per gram.

Second study confirms the efficacy of vitamin B12 tooth gel

Between December 2014 and July 2015, IFANE investigated the efficacy of a tooth gel fortified with vitamin B12, this time over a longer period of time than in the first study. Thirty-six vegan study participants brushed their teeth with the vitamin B12 tooth gel for 2 minutes, twice a day, over the course of 12 weeks. Thirty other vegan test subjects used a placebo tooth gel without vitamin B12, which allowed for a direct comparison of both measures under the same conditions.

The results of the blood samples taken before and after the test phase were once again unmistakable. In contrast to the control group, the subjects who used the tooth gel fortified with vitamin B12 showed a significant increase in both serum vitamin B12 and holotranscobalamin II.4)Siebert, A. K.; Obeid, R.; Weder, S. et al. (2017): Vitamin B-12–fortified toothpaste improves vitamin status in vegans: a 12-wk randomized placebo-controlled study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 3, P. 618–625. Available at http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2017/01/04/ajcn.116.141978.abstract [20.03.2018] In agreement with the 2011 findings regarding the B12 toothpaste, the more recent study showed that using a tooth gel fortified with vitamin B12 improved vitamin B12 levels in the body.

Vitamin B12 supply in the broader population

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in cell division, blood formation, and the nervous system. For many people, however, a sufficient supply of vitamin B12 via food is not always possible, for various reasons.5)Ledochowski, M. (2010): Klinische Ernährungsmedizin. Springer-Verlag Vienna p.252 6)Elmadfa, I. & C. Leitzmann (2015): Ernährung des Menschen. Verlag Eugen Ulmer pp.478

Of the vegans who participated in the first study in 2011, 37% were not sufficiently supplied with vitamin B12. Over 80% of people who have been living on a vegan diet for more than two years and have not paid attention to an adequate supply of vitamin B12 have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Functional vitamin B12 deficiency has been diagnosed in 10-30% of healthy people over 65 years of age,7)Herrmann W, Obeid R, Schorr H, Geisel J (2005/6): The usefulness of holotranscobalamin in predicting vitamin B12 status in different clinical settings. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15720207?dopt=Abstract [20.03.2018] 8)Herrmann W, Schorr H, Bodis M et al. ( 2000): Role of homocysteine, cystathionine and methylmalonic acid measurement for diagnosis of vitamin deficiency in high-aged subjects. Eur J Clin Invest. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11122323?dopt=Abstract [20.03.2018] and in 5-7% of younger people.9)Herrmann W, Obeid R, Schorr H, Geisel J (2003): Functional vitamin B12 deficiency and determination of holotranscobalamin in populations at risk. Clin Chem Lab Med. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14656029?dopt=Abstract [20.03.2018]

Vitamin B12 toothpaste improves vitamin B12 supply

The major risk groups for vitamin B12 deficiency are primarily vegans (and some vegetarians), the elderly, people with gastrointestinal diseases, alcoholics, and smokers, as well as those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. For these people, vitamin B12 toothpaste can be a practical and effective way to remedy the deficiency.10)Obeid R, Schorr H, Eckert R, Herrmann W. (2008): Causes and Early Diagnosis of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696961/ [21.03.2018]

Elderly people and patients with intestinal diseases (including both vegans and the general population) have a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, even if they take in enough vitamin B12 through food. The main cause of this deficiency is food-bound cobalamin malabsorption.11)Allen, L. H. (2009): How common is vitamin B-12 deficiency?, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 2, Pages 693S–696S Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19116323 For these people, fortified food and dietary supplements offer very little benefit. However, the vitamin B12 contained in the toothpaste initiated by ProVeg is absorbed directly through the oral mucous membranes (via so-called passive diffusion), in which case the supply of vitamin B12 can improve even in the case of cobalamin malabsorption.12) Sharabi, A., Cohen, E., Sulkes, J. and Garty, M. (2003), Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, p635–638

Vitamin B12 toothpaste endorsed by consumer safety organisation

The German consumer safety organisation Stiftung Warentest regularly tests food, cosmetics, and other products. In 2016, the vitamin B12 toothpaste performed particularly well (31 other toothpastes were tested). The toothpaste offers very high protection against tooth decay and cavities and is suitable for children and adolescents because it does not contain zinc. In addition, the vitamin B12 toothpaste results in minimal abrasion, which is good for exposed tooth necks. The product carries the ‘vegan’ V-Label, as well as the seal of certification for natural cosmetics in Germany. Because it contains vitamin B12 , it is especially suitable for people who follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle or who are otherwise unable to absorb B12.

ProVeg recommends vitamin B12 toothpaste to improve vitamin B12 supply

  • The exclusive use of vitamin B12 toothpaste led to a significant improvement in participants’ vitamin B12 levels after test phases of 4 weeks, 5 weeks, and 12 weeks, respectively.
  • The vitamin B12 toothpaste did not achieve the desired effect in a small number of individuals in the study. As such, those using the toothpaste should have their B12 levels tested after several months to ensure that they are receiving the benefits. If not, they should consider the use of supplements or fortified foods. Prior consultation with a medical professional is recommended.
  • Regardless of the type of vitamin B12 supplementation, vitamin B12 levels should be checked once a year.

References   [ + ]

1. Sharabi, A., Cohen, E., Sulkes, J. and Garty, M. (2003), Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 56: 635–638. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01907.x
2. Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Magdeburg (2011): Test result with 2x daily application of a B12 toothpaste over a period of 4 weeks. [20.03.2018]
3. IFANE (Institut für alternative und nachhaltige Ernährung) (2011): Wirkung einer mit Vitamin B12 angereicherten Zahnpasta auf den Vitamin B12-Status. Available at: http://ifane.org/forschung/abgeschlossene-projekte/ [20.03.2018]
4. Siebert, A. K.; Obeid, R.; Weder, S. et al. (2017): Vitamin B-12–fortified toothpaste improves vitamin status in vegans: a 12-wk randomized placebo-controlled study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 3, P. 618–625. Available at http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2017/01/04/ajcn.116.141978.abstract [20.03.2018]
5. Ledochowski, M. (2010): Klinische Ernährungsmedizin. Springer-Verlag Vienna p.252
6. Elmadfa, I. & C. Leitzmann (2015): Ernährung des Menschen. Verlag Eugen Ulmer pp.478
7. Herrmann W, Obeid R, Schorr H, Geisel J (2005/6): The usefulness of holotranscobalamin in predicting vitamin B12 status in different clinical settings. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15720207?dopt=Abstract [20.03.2018]
8. Herrmann W, Schorr H, Bodis M et al. ( 2000): Role of homocysteine, cystathionine and methylmalonic acid measurement for diagnosis of vitamin deficiency in high-aged subjects. Eur J Clin Invest. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11122323?dopt=Abstract [20.03.2018]
9. Herrmann W, Obeid R, Schorr H, Geisel J (2003): Functional vitamin B12 deficiency and determination of holotranscobalamin in populations at risk. Clin Chem Lab Med. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14656029?dopt=Abstract [20.03.2018]
10. Obeid R, Schorr H, Eckert R, Herrmann W. (2008): Causes and Early Diagnosis of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696961/ [21.03.2018]
11. Allen, L. H. (2009): How common is vitamin B-12 deficiency?, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 2, Pages 693S–696S Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19116323
12. Sharabi, A., Cohen, E., Sulkes, J. and Garty, M. (2003), Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, p635–638