Martyn Hooper MBE – Chair of the PAS

~ The Chair’s Blog ~

Update on the Conference on Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 and One-Carbon Metabolism

by | Aug 14, 2014 | 1 comment

A few weeks back I wrote about a large conference on Folic Acid and B12 taking place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA.

Yesterday I met with one of the British attendees for an update on the outcome of the conference.

I was expecting some positive results – the triumph of optimism over experience.

The conference was hugely successful, not for solving any of the problems with B12 and Folic Acid, but for new, previously unknown



discoveries being presented for the first time.

Central to the whole problem in determining healthy levels of B12 is the issues of analogues.  Analogues are a mystery and although they are known to interfere with producing an accurate picture of the B12 status in people.  Analogues ‘mimic’ or ‘impersonate’ B12.  This is known.  What isn’t known is really fundamental to understanding their effect on determining B12 status – nobody knows what they are.

Take Seaweed, Dulce or Tangle as it’s known (because it tangles around everything – cute eh?) is known to contain not only large amounts of iodine (it smells like some nurses) but also high levels of Vitamin B12.  So, all you vegetarians out there need only eat some seaweed in some form – dried, boiled or raw- and you’ll get all the B12 you need correct?  Wrong- the B12 in seaweed is an analogue of B12 and won’t do you any good.

It’s so reassuring that there are international conferences being held that are being attended by some very clever people all dedicating their working lives to trying to understand the nature of B12 (and folic acid), but it seems there is still a very long way to go before this dedicated school of scientists find the answer to the difficult questions they ask.  Different people, it appears, have very different analogues of B12.

And the emerging sciences?  Keep your eye on developments in Epigenomics and I’ll leave it at that.

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1 Comment

  1. g

    Oh goody, more questions. Do you think we’ll ever have any answers? I can certainly see how this is interesting especially to a researcher, but as a patient I really just want some answers.


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