The process of vitamin B-12 absorption by the body is complex and can be disturbed rather easily. Here’s how it happens:
Absorption of B-12 can actually start in the mouth, unlike most minerals and vitamins. Very small amounts of B-12 can make their way across the thin membranes in the mouth directly into the bloodstream. However, only pure crystalline B-12 can do this – the B-12 in foods can’t be absorbed this way. This is how sublingual B-12 supplements work.
B-12 locked inside of food can only be absorbed in the digestive track. Once the food enters the stomach, enzymes work to unlock it from the food. These enzymes need an acid environment to work, however – which is why people taking antacid medication can become vitamin B-12 deficient. The antacids lower stomach acidity, preventing the enzymes from working.
Once the B-12 is freed from the food it is attached to R-proteins and passes into the duodenum. In the duodeum, the B-12 is released from the R-proteins and intrinsic factor (IF) picks up the B-12 and forms a new B-12 complex. This B-12 complex passes from the duodenum into the small bowel, where it is finally absorbed into the bloodstream. The intrinsic factor/B-12 complex is the only form of B-12 that can enter the bloodstream from the digestive tract!
If you lack intrinsic factor, you won’t be able to digest B-12 at all. This mostly commonly happens to people as they age and they acquire ‘gastric parietal cell atrophy’, or pernicious anemia. The cells that make intrinsic factor simply wear out and stop producing it. This is also a problem for those who undergo gastric bypass surgeries, as the cells making intrinsic factor are taken out of the loop.
However, Healthy Habits® B-12 Transdermal Vitamin B-12 Patches elimates ALL of this digestive complexity! Unlike oral supplementation, which needs intrinsic factor, or sublingual B-12, which is limited in the amount of vitamin B-12 that can be easily absorbed, vitamin B-12 from our patches is absorbed directly into the bloodstream at full strengh.