Vitamin B12 and Clean Teeth
Vitamin B12 can be absorbed through the oral mucosa. This is known as sublingual absorption and is considered just as effective as the intake route via digestion. The idea of creating a vitamin B12 supplement of B12-enriched toothpaste is therefore an obvious one, since it allows people to absorb supplementary B12 twice a day whilst simultaneously brushing their teeth. This is an especially convenient option for vegans and vegetarians, who otherwise struggle to obtain sufficient vitamin B12 in their diet.
Proven in Studies
In 2012, the German Institute for Alternative and Sustainable Diets (IFANE) in Giessen carried out a study regarding the effectiveness of a vitamin B12 toothpaste produced by the firm Sante, which was suggested by the German Vegetarian Association (VEBU) (1). The study came to the conclusion that, when used exclusively, B12 toothpaste led to significant improvements to the vitamin B12 status.
The tested toothpaste delivers around 3 µg of B12 through the active ingredient of cyanocobalamin when used twice daily. The main advantage of the toothpaste is the long contact it has with the oral mucosa and consequently the good rate of sublingual absorption.
The study consisted of 90 subjects, who were split into two groups, with one group given the vitamin B12 toothpaste and one a placebo toothpaste. In both cases, the vitamin B12 parameters in serum, homocysteine and holotranscobalamin were measured before the study and then after five weeks of use.
The vitamin B12 concentration in the blood serum increased in the B12 group by an average of 26%, but decreased in value in the placebo group. Holotranscobalamin improved in the B12 group by around 92% on average. For a few subjects who had very low initial levels, this figure actually tripled. By comparison, the placebo group saw no significant changes in the value of holotranscobalamin. The level of homocysteine decreased in the B12 group.
The toothpaste therefore demonstrated a surprisingly good effect.
Vitamin B12 Toothpaste as a Dietary Supplement
These good test results are surprising given the relatively low vitamin content in B12 toothpaste. Whether these results could be reproduced in a large clinical study however remains unknown. Current studies comparing young, healthy people with a relatively low requirement (2) and older, unwell people with a significantly higher requirement (3) are being undertaken with 6 µg and 500 µg respectively, in order to normalise the B12 markers.
However, it does appear that vitamin B12 toothpaste is well suited as a dietary supplement. When taken alongside enriched foods, the toothpaste could also help ensure a healthy B12 supply for vegans. The price of vitamin B12 toothpaste is around £10/14$; somewhat higher than ordinary toothpaste, but still reasonably affordable.
- Mustafa Vakur Bor, Kristina M von Castel-Roberts, Gail PA Kauwell, Sally P Stabler, Robert H Allen, David R Maneval, Lynn B Bailey Ebba Nexo „Daily intake of 4 to 7 µg dietary vitamin B-12 is associated with steady concentrations of vitamin B-12–related biomarkers in a healthy young population“ Am J Clin Nutr 2010 91: 3 571-577; First published online January 13, 2010. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28082.
- Park, S. and Johnson, M. A. (2006), What is an Adequate Dose of Oral Vitamin B12 in Older People with Poor Vitamin B12 Status?. Nutrition Reviews, 64: 373–378. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2006.tb00222.x