There have been a number of publications reporting studies showing that breathing nitrous oxide may destroy a person's vitamin B12. This has been reported not only in journal articles, but has finally been incorporated in the latest books on nutritional supplements as well as books on biochemistry. What first came to my mind was the use of this gas by dentists.
Nitrous oxide, often called "laughing gas," is commonly used by dentists to help mitigate pain. This could present a risk to patients, but probably more often it presents a risk to people working in the office who would be exposed every day. However, a far greater potential concern came to mind when I recently read a news article that stated that the catalytic converters in automobiles are creating enough nitrous oxide emissions to contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect. It is also known to be a very stable molecule that has a lifetime in the atmosphere of approximately 150 years.
With cars continuing to produce it, one would expect the concentration in the atmosphere, world wide, to be increasing every year, and it appears to be doing so. Is this already producing B12 deficiencies world wide, which will increase with time? This would not be surprising because we require (and absorb) only a few micrograms of vitamin B12 per day and our livers store only a few micrograms in reserve. It would take only a very low concentration of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere to destroy this if the destruction process is efficient, and the individual's dietary absorption process is inefficient. What are the potential health consequences and what can we as individuals do to protect against this potential problem?
I have had some personal experience which I will discuss below that makes me believe that I have discovered a significant fraction of the population is B12 deficient. It is a far greater fraction that I would have expected, since it even exists in young people who should have healthy B12 absorption systems. Is this the effect of the atmospheric nitrous oxide emissions already showing up? I believe it is a definite possibility which deserves some serious attention.
Health Consequences of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
It is widely recognized that vitamin B12 in combination with folic acid is essential for your body to synthesize hemoglobin. A deficiency can result in a particular form of anemia called pernicious anemia. However, as we continually expand our knowledge of biochemistry, it is being recognized that these vitamins fill far more broad ranging requirements. It is doubtful that all their functions been identified, but it is reasonable to conclude that a deficiency could result in or contribute to a broad range of degenerative processes.
The absorption of vitamin B12 requires a highly specialized process which tends to become less effective with age. For this reason it is common for doctors to give elderly people B12 shots which result in them feeling much better and more energetic. It is also common for the elderly to develop numerous degenerative diseases. (They don't all get shots.)
Does a B12 (and folic acid) deficiency contribute to the development of many degenerative diseases that we commonly associate with aging? It would not surprise me at all if it does. It doesn't appear to be so common to give vitamin B12 shots to young people, so we may have not discovered a deficiency that may exist. Is there a similar deficiency in younger people resulting in a different set of medical problems? I have reason to believe there might be, and my only explanation for such a surprising and unnatural development is the growing nitrous oxide concentration in the atmosphere.
The individual solutions and my evidence that the problem might be broad ranging over all age groups. If a serious vitamin B12 deficiency is being caused by automobile emissions, we certainly want to change that process. However, this will require changes in cars that are beyond our individual control. So, what can we do individually?
I am a strong believer in oral dietary supplements. It is the best start. You can get B12 and folic acid supplements at any health food store and follow the directions on the label. Since vitamin B12 requires a special absorption system that may not be healthy in a particular individual, some people may not benefit from oral supplements.
For such people, one form of B12 is available, called sublingual tablets, which are designed to be held under the tongue while the B12 is absorbed through the skin. Many may find this approach to be advantageous. Available by prescription are B12 shots, which may have to be administered by a doctor. I discovered another approach which I experimented with personally and which eventually led me to discover what I interpreted to be a very common Vitamin B12 deficiency, independent of the age group. This surprised and puzzled me very much.
Back in 1994 when I was focusing on learning as much as I could about vitamin B12, an experiment came to mind which I decided to try on myself. I saw a bottle of DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide) on the shelf of my health food store and remembered that DMSO is not only absorbed directly through the skin, but it also would carry with it any impurities dissolved in it. This can be a serious problem if the impurities are toxic.
However, I also realized that if I dissolved vitamin B12 in it, it might carry it directly to my blood stream through my skin. I tried it and the results were dramatic for me, far greater than any impact I had ever felt from oral or sublingual tablets. I put some of my vitamin B12 tablets obtained at a health food store into a two liquid ounce bottle with an eyedropper and filled it with DMSO. It took a couple of days for the tablets to fall apart. Once they did, I put an eyedropper load on one arm and rubbed it in. In approximately one hour I started to feel very good, which was a sense of general strength and well being. This lasted all day.
When I tried it again the next day, I got no such feeling. I also didn't experience any bad effects either. Since I knew that approximately one monthís requirement of B12 is stored in your liver, I reasoned that my system was simply fully supplied with Vitamin B12 and that I wouldn't need to use it again for a month or so. When I tried it again a month or so later, I got a significant boost from it again. Since then I have continued to use it on a once every month or so basis.
With time I decided to also add folic acid and a multiviamin-multimineral tablet to give the solution a broader base of nutritional support. I use a two ounce bottle with an eyedropper, add 10mg of vitamin B12 (ten 1000 mcg tablets), 9.6 mg of folic acid (twelve 800 mcg tablets) and a single multivitamin-multimineral tablet and fill it with 99.9% DMSO (leaving a bubble at the top so it can be mixed when shaken). All ingredients were obtained from my local health food store.
The tablets are mostly binder and take a few days to fall apart. They don't fully dissolve, but that doesn't seem to matter in terms of potency. I now use this regularly on approximately a once every month or two basis. It serves as a reasonable mood elevator for me, and I believe it contributes significantly to my general health. My interpretation is I seem to become deficient in vitamin B12 even though I take oral supplements regularly.
Over time I have told a number of other people about this and many have chosen to try it. (I strongly recommended that they consult their physician first.) Of those who have chosen to make up solutions and try it, approximately 50% have told me that they noticed a very significant energy boost, and this was not limited to elderly people. It seemed to be independent of age, from age 25 and up.
Some also found a benefit if they used it as frequently as once every two weeks and others were like me, finding the best time span between use to be in the once-a-month or so range. If I interpret this to indicate B12 deficiencies, the 50% number is much higher than I would have expected, and the impact on young people was particularly unexpected. Is this an indication that there is something happening in our environment that is causing a broad base of Vitamin B12 deficiencies? When I read the news article about automobile exhaust and the production of enough nitrous oxide to affect the greenhouse effect, a light turned on. This may the cause. If so, it is a very important issue.
It is my hope that this article will stimulate a thorough investigation into this issue to systematically evaluate if it is true, and result in an organized effort towards a solution.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
I have not used Dr. Greggís approach, yet. It certainly seems to be a safe alternative, though, for those who do not want to use vitamin B12 injections.