Dr. Hank Liers, PhD natural nrf2 activators healing potential

When I first learned about Nrf2 activators in early 2012, I became quite enthusiastic about new knowledge that natural substances called polyphenolic compounds had the ability to activate this transcription factor. Once released in the cell Nrf2 can migrate to the nucleus and cause the body to endogenously produce high levels of key protective/antioxidant enzymes.

Also, I actively began the development of a product called Ultimate Protector that contains many concentrates and extracts from fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This product functions as 1) an excellent source of many Nrf2 activators, 2) a source of powerful antioxidants exhibiting an extremely high ORAC5.0 value per serving, and 3) a source of non-GMO Vitamin C.

More recently (July 2019) I have updated the product to Ultimate Protector+ that contains some exciting new ingredients that are now available on the market including SFB® (Standardized Fruit Blend) that contains among others mangosteen, goji berry, pomegranate, and apple extracts (click on the ingredient name to see detailed blog articles concerning these). In addition, I have added significant amounts of ingredients that are well known as potent Nrf2 activators and antioxidants including Green Tea extract and VinCare® whole grape extract.


Ultimate Protector+

New Ultimate Protector+


It is interesting to note that over 16 years ago I formulated a wonderful antioxidant formula called PRO-C™. PRO-C™ contains Buffered Vitamin C (in the form of powdered calcium, magnesium, and zinc ascorbates), high-potency Grape Extract (from grape pulp, skins, and seeds), Green Tea Extract, reduced Glutathione, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), R-Lipoic Acid, coenzyme forms of Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B6, and Selenium.

PRO-C™ has been one of the most effective products at supporting health I have ever formulated. Our current knowledge shows that PRO-C™ contains four effective Nrf2 activators, selenium needed for glutathione peroxidase functioning, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B6 that support the effectiveness of glutathione, and antioxidants including Vitamin C and glutathione. I recently wrote a blog article titled PRO-C™ SUPER ANTIOXIDANT FORMULA that provides details concerning this formula.

My current personal list of supplements that I (and my wife) take every day includes both Ultimate Protector™ and PRO-C™. We feel gifted to have these products available to us!!

In this article, I will provide greater insight into the natural sources of Nrf2 activators and how they perform in the body.


Activation of Nrf2 results in the induction of many cytoprotective proteins. We have seen articles that claim over 200 different enzymes can be produced in the body by Nrf2 activators, but have also seen reference that over 4,000 enzymes may be produced!  Examples of some of the key enzymes are shown below:

  • NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 – a prototypical Nrf2 target gene that catalyzes the reduction and detoxification of highly reactive quinones that can cause redox cycling and oxidative stress.
  • Superoxide dismutases (SOD) – enzymes that catalyze the dismutation of superoxide (O2) into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. Thus, they are an important antioxidant defense in nearly all cells exposed to oxygen where superoxide is one of the main reactive oxygen species. SOD is known to provide powerful antinflammatory activity.
  • Glutamate-cysteine ligase which is the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of glutathione (GSH), a very powerful endogenous antioxidant. Glutamate-cysteine ligaseis a characteristic Nrf2 target gene, which establish Nrf2 as a regulator of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the body.
  • Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of heme into the antioxidant biliverdin, the anti-inflammatory agent carbon monoxide, and iron. HO-1 is a Nrf2 target gene that has been shown to protect from a variety of pathologies, including sepsis, hypertension, atherosclerosis, acute lung injury, kidney injury, and pain.
  • The glutathione S-transferase (GST) family includes cytosolic, mitochondrial, and microsomal enzymes that catalyze the conjugation of GSH with endogenous and xenobiotic electrophiles. After detoxification by GSH conjugation catalyzed by GSTs, the body can eliminate potentially harmful and toxic compounds. GSTs are induced by Nrf2 activation and represent an important route of detoxification.
  • The UDP-glucuronosyltransferas (UGT) family catalyze the conjugation of a glucuronic acid moiety to a variety of endogenous and exogenous substances, making them more water soluble and readily excreted. Important substrates for glucuronidation include bilirubin, and acetaminophen. Nrf2 has been shown to induce UGT1A1 and UGT1A6.
  • Multidrug resistance-associated proteins  (Mrps) are important membrane transporters that efflux various compounds from various organs and into bile or plasma, with subsequent excretion in the feces or urine, respectively. Mrps have been shown to be upregulated by Nrf2 and alteration in their expression can dramatically alter the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of compounds.


The March 2011 Epub Biochemical Basis for Functional Ingredient Design from Fruits reports: “Functional food ingredients (nutraceuticals) in fruits range from small molecular components, such as the secondary plant products, to macromolecular entities, e.g., pectin and cellulose, that provide several health benefits.  In fruits, the most visible functional ingredients are the color components anthocyanins and carotenoids.

“In addition, several other secondary plant products, including terpenes, show health beneficial activities.  A common feature of several functional ingredients is their antioxidant function. For example, reactive oxygen species (ROS) can be oxidized and stabilized by flavonoid components, and the flavonoid radical can undergo electron rearrangement stabilizing the flavonoid radical.  Compounds that possess an orthodihydroxy or quinone structure can interact with cellular proteins in the Keap1/Nrf2/ARE pathway to activate the transcription of antioxidant enzymes.

“Carotenoids and flavonoids can also exert their action by modulating the signal transduction and gene expression within the cell. Recent results suggest that these activities are primarily responsible for the health benefits associated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables.”

One of the interesting aspects of the extensive research that has been conducted is the fact that many of the polyphenols that have been shown to activate Nrf2 have been used in natural healing formulas for many years. For example, an article in a November 2010 production titled Nutraceutical antioxidants as novel neuroprotective agent expands on the classes of “antioxidant” compounds that are neuroprotective and operate either via direct antioxidant action or via the keap1-Nrf2 pathway:

“A variety of antioxidant compounds derived from natural products (nutraceuticals) have demonstrated neuroprotective activity in either in vitro or in vivo models of neuronal cell death or neurodegeneration, respectively. These natural antioxidants fall into several distinct groups based on their chemical structures: (1) flavonoid polyphenols like epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) from green tea and quercetin from apples; (2) non-flavonoid polyphenols such as curcumin from tumeric and resveratrol from grapes; (3) phenolic acids or phenolic diterpenes such as rosmarinic acid or carnosic acid, respectively, both from rosemary; and (4) organosulfur compounds including the isothiocyanate, L-sulforaphane, from broccoli and the thiosulfonate allicin, from garlic.

“All of these compounds are generally considered to be antioxidants.  They may be classified this way either because they directly scavenge free radicals or they indirectly increase endogenous cellular antioxidant defenses, for example, via activation of the nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) transcription factor pathway. Alternative mechanisms of action have also been suggested for the neuroprotective effects of these compounds such as modulation of signal transduction cascades or effects on gene expression. Here, we review the literature pertaining to these various classes of nutraceutical antioxidants and discuss their potential therapeutic value in neurodegenerative diseases.”


One of the ways dietary flavonoids work to confer their multiple health effects is via the keap1-Nrf2 pathway.  That is substances which are both themselves antioxidants and activators of the keap1-Nrf2 pathway produce significant results through keap1-Nrf2 and activating the body’s own antioxidant and defensive systems.

Flavonoids are a large family of polyphenolic compounds synthesized by plants. Many of the common dietary flavonoids are shown in Table 1 below along with their common food sources.

Table 1: Common Dietary Flavonoids

Flavonoid Subclass Dietary Flavonoids Some Common Food Sources
Anthocyanidins  Cyanidin, Delphinidin, Malvidin, Pelargonidin, Peonidin, Petunidin Red, blue, and purple berries; red and purple grapes; red wine
Flavonols  Monomers (Catechins) Catechin, Epicatechin, Epigallocatechin, Epicatechin gallate, Epigallocatecin gallate Dimers and Polymers: Theaflavins, Thearubigins, Proanthocyanidins Catechins: Teas (particularly green and white), chocolate, grapes, berries, apples Theaflavins, Thearubigins: Teas (particularly black and oolong) Proanthocyanidins: Chocolate, apples, berries, red grapes, red wine.
Flavanones Hesperetin, Naringenin, Eriodictyol Citrus fruits and juices, e.g., oranges, grapefruits, lemons.
Flavonols Quercetin, Kaempferol, Myricetin, Isorhamnetin Widely distributed: yellow onions, scallions, kale, broccoli, apples, berries, teas.
Flavones Apigenin, Luteolin Parsley, thyme, celery, hot peppers.
Isoflavones Daidzein, Genistein, Glycitein Soybeans, soy foods, legumes.

In addition to flavonoids many other plant based substances appear to produce health benefits through hormetic effects mediated by Nrf2.  The December 2011 publication Nutritional antioxidants and adaptive cell responses: an update reports: “Many plant antioxidants, intaken through the daily diet or plant-derived dietary supplements, have been shown able to prevent free radical-related diseases by counteracting cell oxidative stress. However, it is now considered that the in vivo beneficial effects of these phytochemicals are unlikely to be explained just by their antioxidant capability.

“Several plant antioxidants exhibit hormetic properties, by acting as ‘low-dose stressors’ that may prepare cells to resist more severe stress. In fact, low doses of these phytochemicals activate cell signaling pathways (being the most prominent examples the modulation of the Nrf2/Keap1 pathway, the NF-κB pathway and the Sirtuin-FOXO pathway) but high doses are cytotoxic.

“Herein we review the adaptive responses induced by the most known plant hormetic antioxidants, which are sulforaphane, resveratrol, curcumin, flavonoids, green tea catechins and diallylsulphides [in garlic], as well as the molecular mechanisms involved in such responses. Furthermore, this review outlines that the hormetic properties of these bioactive plant antioxidants might be successfully employed for realizing health-promoting dietary interventions especially in the field of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.”


Ultimate Protector+


1) An interesting fact is that Nrf2 is ubiquitously expressed with the highest concentrations (in descending order) in the kidney, muscle, lung, heart, liver, and brain. 

2) Another important fact is that the well-known nutrition supplement lipoic acid is a potent activator of Nrf2 and thus increases Gluthatione levels, which may explain its protective effect against diabetic co-morbidities. Additionally, the nutritional supplements tocotrienols (active forms of Vitamin E) and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) are also effective Nrf2 activators!

3) We have observed that the natural plant substances with the highest ORAC5.0 values appear to be among the most effective Nrf2 activators. For example, see the table below. In particular, note that Curcumin (98%), Grape Seed Extract, Green Tea Extract, and Reservatrol which are commonly used for their excellent Nrf2 activator effects are the most powerful in-vitro antioxidants . Please note that Ultimate Protector is over 50% more powerful as an antioxidant than the best single plant ingredient.


Ingredient Peroxyl Radical Hydroxyl Radical Peroxy-nitrite Radical Super-
oxide Radical
Singlet O2 Radical Total ORAC5.0
Curcumin 98% 5,750 8,920 906 597 66,290 82,500
Bilberry 25% 7,000 25,000 1,000 16,000 5,000 54,000
Cocoa 10,000 28,000 1,000 11,000 2,000 52,000
Grape Seed Extract 17,000 47,000 1,000 25,000 4,000 94,000
Green Tea Extract 11,000 41,000 2,000 56,000 3,000 113,000
Coffee Berry Extract 5,000 29,000 1,000 1,000 2,000 38,000
Mangosteen 4,000 8,000 1,000 18,000 4,000 35,000
Pine Bark 7,000 23,000 1,000 17,000 2,000 50,000
Resveratrol 12,000 50,000 1,000 8,000 22,000 93,000
Results are expressed in micro mole TE/g
4) Here is a list of the ingredients in ULTIMATE PROTECTOR+: USP-grade non-GMO Vitamin C, SFB® standardized fruit blend (~50% polyphenols, high-ORAC powder: 9,000 µmole TE/g) from Grape, Cranberry, Pomegranate, Blueberry, Apple, Mangosteen, Bilberry, Chokeberry, and Goji Berry), Curcumin (standardized extract with 95% curcuminoids), Trans-Resveratrol (98% from Giant Knotweed), Green Tea Extract (93% polyphenols, 50% EGCG), VinCare® Whole Grape Extract (>80% polyphenols, ORAC>19,000 µmole TE/g), Calcium Malate, Magnesium Malate, and Bioperine® (a patented black pepper extract that enhances absorption of all ingredients and is a known Nrf2 activator).


Below are two abstracts that discuss how modulation of the Nrf2/ARE pathway by food polyphenols can provide neuroprotection through the activation of the heme-oxygenase enzyme.

Modulation of Nrf2/ARE pathway by food polyphenols: a nutritional neuroprotective strategy for cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders. (Oct. 2011)


In recent years, there has been a growing interest, supported by a large number of experimental and epidemiological studies, for the beneficial effects of some phenolic substances, contained in commonly used spices and herbs, in preventing various age-related pathologic conditions, ranging from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases. Although the exact mechanisms by which polyphenols promote these effects remain to be elucidated, several reports have shown their ability to stimulate a general xenobiotic response in the target cells, activating multiple defense genes.

Data from our and other laboratories have previously demonstrated that curcumin, the yellow pigment of curry, strongly induces heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression and activity in different brain cells via the activation of heterodimers of NF-E2-related factors 2 (Nrf2)/antioxidant responsive element (ARE) pathway. Many studies clearly demonstrate that activation of Nrf2 target genes, and particularly HO-1, in astrocytes and neurons is strongly protective against inflammation, oxidative damage, and cell death. In the central nervous system, the HO system has been reported to be very active, and its modulation seems to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders.

Recent and unpublished data from our group revealed that low concentrations of epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the major green tea catechin, induces HO-1 by ARE/Nrf2 pathway in hippocampal neurons, and by this induction, it is able to protect neurons against different models of oxidative damages. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that other phenolics, such as caffeic acid phenethyl ester and ethyl ferulate, are also able to protect neurons via HO-1 induction. These studies identify a novel class of compounds that could be used for therapeutic purposes as preventive agents against cognitive decline.

The major green tea polyphenol, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, induces heme oxygenase in rat neurons and acts as an effective neuroprotective agent against oxidative stress. (Aug. 2009)


Oxidative stress induced by hyperglycemia is a key factor in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications, such as neuropathy. Recently, green tea catechins have received much attention, as they can facilitate a number of antioxidative mechanisms and improve glycemic control. The aim of this study was to investigate the cytoprotective effects of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) against oxidative stress damage in a cell line of rat neurons. The role of heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) induction by EGCG and the transcriptional mechanisms involved were also evaluated.

Immortalized rat neurons (H 19-7) were exposed to various concentrations of EGCG (10-200 microM). After treatments (6 or 24 hours), cells were harvested for the determination of heme oxygenase activity, mRNA levels, and protein expression. Nuclear levels of Nrf2, a transcriptional factor involved in HO-1 activation, were also measured. Neurons were pretreated for 12 hours with EGCG 50 microM or EGCG 50 microM + zinc protoporphyrin IX 10 microM and then exposed for 2 hours to 50 mmicro/mL glucose-oxidase before cell viability was determined.

In cultured neurons, elevated expression of HO-1 mRNA and protein were detected after 6 hours of incubation with 25-100 microM EGCG, and its induction relates with the activation of Nrf2. Interestingly, pre-incubation (12 hours) with EGCG 50 microM resulted in an enhanced cellular resistance to glucose oxidase-mediated oxidative damage; this cytoprotective effect was considerably attenuated by zinc protoporphyrin IX, an inhibitor of heme oxygenase activity.

In this study, we demonstrated that EGCG, the major green tea catechin, induced HO-1 expression in cultured neurons, possibly by activation of the transcription factor Nrf2, and by this mechanism was able to protect against oxidative stress-induced cell death.


The following review article abstract shows how natural products containing Nrf2 activator/antioxidant ingredients might be used to support health and anti-aging.

Nrf2/ARE Signaling Pathway: Key Mediator in Oxidative Stress and Potential Therapeutic Target in ALS (July 2012)


Abstract: Nrf2 (nuclear erythroid 2-related factor 2) is a basic region leucine-zipper transcription factor which binds to the antioxidant response element (ARE) and thereby regulates the expression of a large battery of genes involved in the cellular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defence as well as mitochondrial protection. As oxidative stress, inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunctions have been identified as important pathomechanisms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), this signaling cascade has gained interest both with respect to ALS pathogenesis and therapy. Nrf2 and Keap1 expressions are reduced in motor neurons in postmortem ALS tissue.

Nrf2-activating compounds have shown therapeutic efficacy in the ALS mouse model and other neurodegenerative disease models. Alterations in Nrf2 and Keap1 expression and dysregulation of the Nrf2/ARE signalling program could contribute to the chronic motor neuron degeneration in ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, Nrf2 emerges as a key neuroprotective molecule in neurodegenerative diseases.

Our recent studies strongly support that the Nrf2/ARE signalling pathway is an important mediator of neuroprotection and therefore represents a promising target for development of novel therapies against ALS, Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Simultaneous blockage of disease-specific broad toxic signaling cascades in motor neurons and glia may ultimately lead to more efficient neuroprotection in ALS. Stimulation of defense mechanisms that modulate neuroprotective genes which affect both neuronal and glial functions is a novel therapeutic approach and holds great promise. A key molecule to affect a variety of defense mechanisms is the transcription factor Nrf2 which activates the Nrf2/ARE signaling program. Nrf2 acts as master regulator of the cellular antioxidant response by stimulation of over 250 phase II genes that should be referred to as “prolife genes” since they save cells from death.

Nrf2 activation can at once regulate the expression of multiple cytoprotective enzymes that are capable of simultaneous inhibition of major pathogenic pathways described in ALS such as oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Decreased Nrf2 expression was found in motor neurons in ALS postmortem brain and spinal cord. We have established the proof-of-concept that the Nrf2/ARE program is a viable target with excellent therapeutic potential for ALS. While there are still multiple gaps of knowledge on the path from Nrf2 dissociation to nuclear localization and its action as transcription factor, activation of the Nrf2 signaling cascade represents a novel and unique attempt to find a cure for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases by fortifying the intrinsic defense mechanisms of neurons.


In this article I have shown how foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and their extracts can stimulate extremely powerful protective enzymes in the body that work to keep us healthy. I strongly suggest that our readers eat an organic diet that emphasizes these foods and highly recommend the use of nutritional supplements such as Ultimate Protector+ and PRO-C™ that can further support the activation of the Nrf2 pathways in the body!







Dr. Hank Liers, PhD biography about us HPDI integratedhealth formulator founder CEO scientist physicist wild bilberry and wild blueberry Ultimate Protector+ includes apple extract, as well as extracts from 12 different fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Each of these ingredients contain substances considered to be polyphenols, antioxidants, and Nrf2 activators. In this article, I explore the ingredient apple (Malus pumila mill.) extract, which is a component of SFB® – Standardized Fruit Blend from Ethical Naturals, Inc.

apple extract

Ultimate Protector+ Includes Apple

SFB® is a proprietary formula that combines extracts from Grape, Cranberry, Pomegranate, Blueberry, Apple, Mangosteen, Bilberry, Chokeberry, and Goji Berry. It is high in fruit polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, catechins, proanthocyanins, ellagic acid, xanthines, chlorogenic acid, pterostilbenes, resveratrol, phloridzin, quercetin, zeaxanthin, and quinic acid. With its diverse blend, SFB® offers over 40-50% polyphenols as well as >9,000 ORAC units in a single gram.

Polyphenols, anthocyanins and other plant elements are powerful ingredients associated with a variety of areas of human health, including healthy aging, healthy glucose metabolism, cardiovascular health, and inflammation management.


The Apple extract in Ultimate Protector+ has been extracted with non-GMO food grade ethanol and distilled water. Testing has indicated the product contains over 40% polyphenols. In numerous epidemiological studies, apples have been associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and asthma.

When compared to many other commonly consumed fruits in the United States, apples had the second highest level of antioxidant activity. Apples also ranked the second for total concentration of phenolic compounds, and perhaps more importantly, apples had the highest portion of free phenolics when compared to other fruits.


Apples contain a large concentration of flavonoids, as well as a variety of other phytochemicals, and the concentration of these phytochemicals may depend on many factors, such as cultivar of the apple, harvest and storage of the apples, and processing of the apples. The concentration of phytochemicals also varies greatly between the apple peels and the apple flesh.

Some of the most well studied antioxidant compounds in apples include quercetin-3-galactoside, quercetin-3-glucoside, quercetin-3-rhamnoside, catechin, epicatechin, procyanidin, cyanidin-3-galactoside, coumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, gallic acid, and phloridzin. Recently researchers have examined the average concentrations of the major phenolic compounds in six cultivars of apples. They found that the average phenolic concentrations among the six cultivars were: quercetin glycosides, 13.2 mg/100 g fruit; vitamin C, 12.8 mg/100 g fruit; procyanidin B, 9.35 mg/100 g fruit; chlorogenic acid, 9.02 mg/100 g fruit; epicatechin, 8.65 mg/100 g fruit; and phloretin glycosides, 5.59 mg/100 g fruit.

The compounds most commonly found in apple peels consist of the procyanidins, catechin, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, phloridzin, and the quercetin conjugates. In the apple flesh, there is some catechin, procyanidin, epicatechin, and phloridzin, but these compounds are found in much lower concentrations than in the peels. Quercetin conjugates are found exclusively in the peel of the apples. Chlorogenic acid tends to be higher in the flesh than in the peel.

Because the apple peels contain more antioxidant compounds, especially quercetin, apple peels may have higher antioxidant activity and higher bioactivity than the apple flesh. Research showed that apples without the peels had less antioxidant activity than apples with the peels. Apples with the peels were also better able to inhibit cancer cell proliferation when compared to apples without the peels. More recent work has shown that apple peels contain anywhere from two to six times (depending on the variety) more phenolic compounds than in the flesh, and two to three times more flavonoids in the peels when compared to the flesh. The antioxidant activity of these peels was also much greater, ranging from two to six times greater in the peels when compared to the flesh, depending on the variety of the apple. This work is supported a study which found that rats consuming apple peels showed greater inhibition of lipid peroxidation and greater plasma antioxidant capacity when compared to rats fed apple flesh.

Many of these phytochemicals from apples have been widely studied, and many potential health benefits have been attributed to these specific phytochemicals. The procyanidins, epicatechin and catechin, have strong antioxidant activity and have been found to inhibit low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation in vitro. In mice, catechin inhibits intestinal tumor formation and delays tumors onset. One  study found that chlorogenic acid has very high alkyl peroxyl radical (ROO•) scavenging activity. Compared to about 18 other antioxidant compounds (including quercetin, gallic acid, α-tocopherol), chlorogenic was second only to rutin. Since ROO• may enhance tumor promotion and carcinogenesis, chlorogenic acid may add to the protective effect of apples against cancer. Chlorogenic acid has been found to inhibit 8-dehydroxy-deoxyguanosine formation in cellular DNA in a rat model following treatment with 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide.

Quercetin is also a strong antioxidant, and is thought to have potential protective effects against both cancer and heart disease. Briefly, quercetin has been found to down regulate expression of mutant p53 in breast cancer cells, arrest human leukemic T-cells in G1, inhibit tyrosine kinase, and inhibit heat shock proteins. Quercetin has protected Caco-2 cells from lipid peroxidation induced by hydrogen peroxide and Fe2+. In mice liver treated with ethanol, quercetin decreased lipid oxidation and increased glutathione, protecting the liver from oxidative damage. Recently, it has been found that high doses of quercetin inhibit cell proliferation in colon carcinoma cell lines and in mammary adenocarcinoma cell lines, but at low doses quercetin increased cell proliferation (20% in colon cancer cells and 100% in breast cancer cells). However, low doses of quercetin (10 uM) inhibited cell proliferation in Mol-4 Human Leukemia cells and also induced apoptosis. Quercetin inhibited intestinal tumor growth in mice, but not in rats. Low levels of quercetin inhibited platelet aggregation, calcium mobilization, and tyrosine protein phosphorylation in platelets. Modulation of platelet activity may help prevent cardiovascular disease.


Below, I provide relevant scientific studies on the antioxidant effects and potential health benefits of apple.

Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits

Jeanelle Boyer1 and Rui Hai Liu1


Evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and phytochemicals including phenolics, flavonoids and carotenoids from fruits and vegetables may play a key role in reducing chronic disease risk. Apples are a widely consumed, rich source of phytochemicals, and epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. In the laboratory, apples have been found to have very strong antioxidant activity, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, decrease lipid oxidation, and lower cholesterol. Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which are strong antioxidants. The phytochemical composition of apples varies greatly between different varieties of apples, and there are also small changes in phytochemicals during the maturation and ripening of the fruit. Storage has little to no effect on apple phytochemicals, but processing can greatly affect apple phytochemicals. While extensive research exists, a literature review of the health benefits of apples and their phytochemicals has not been compiled to summarize this work. The purpose of this paper is to review the most recent literature regarding the health benefits of apples and their phytochemicals, phytochemical bioavailability and antioxidant behavior, and the effects of variety, ripening, storage and processing on apple phytochemicals..

Cancer chemopreventive potential of apples, apple juice, and apple components.

 Gerhauser C1.

From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18855307


Apples ( MALUS sp., Rosaceae) are a rich source of nutrient as well as non-nutrient components and contain high levels of polyphenols and other phytochemicals. Main structural classes of apple constituents include hydroxycinnamic acids, dihydrochalcones, flavonols (quercetin glycosides), catechins and oligomeric procyanidins, as well as triterpenoids in apple peel and anthocyanins in red apples. Several lines of evidence suggest that apples and apple products possess a wide range of biological activities which may contribute to health beneficial effects against cardiovascular disease, asthma and pulmonary dysfunction, diabetes, obesity, and cancer (reviewed by Boyer and Liu, Nutr J 2004). The present review will summarize the current knowledge on potential cancer preventive effects of apples, apple juice and apple extracts (jointly designated as apple products). In brief, apple extracts and components, especially oligomeric procyanidins, have been shown to influence multiple mechanisms relevant for cancer prevention in IN VITRO studies. These include antimutagenic activity, modulation of carcinogen metabolism, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory mechanisms, modulation of signal transduction pathways, antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing activity, as well as novel mechanisms on epigenetic events and innate immunity. Apple products have been shown to prevent skin, mammary and colon carcinogenesis in animal models. Epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer.

Apple Peel Polyphenols and Their Beneficial Actions on Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

. 2013; 8(1): e53725.
Marie Claude Denis, Alexandra Furtos, Stéphanie Dudonné, Alain Montoudis, Carole Garofalo, Yves Desjardins, Edgard Delvin, and Emile Levy
From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3553108/#


Since gastrointestinal mucosa is constantly exposed to reactive oxygen species from various sources, the presence of antioxidants may contribute to the body’s natural defenses against inflammatory diseases.


To define the polyphenols extracted from dried apple peels (DAPP) and determine their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential in the intestine. Caco-2/15 cells were used to study the role of DAPP preventive actions against oxidative stress (OxS) and inflammation induced by iron-ascorbate (Fe/Asc) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS), respectively.


The combination of HPLC with fluorescence detection, HPLC-ESI-MS TOF and UPLC-ESI-MS/MS QQQ allowed us to characterize the phenolic compounds present in the DAPP (phenolic acids, flavonol glycosides, flavan-3-ols, procyanidins). The addition of Fe/Asc to Caco-2/15 cells induced OxS as demonstrated by the rise in malondialdehyde, depletion of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and alterations in the activity of endogenous antioxidants (SOD, GPx, G-Red). However, preincubation with DAPP prevented Fe/Asc-mediated lipid peroxidation and counteracted LPS-mediated inflammation as evidenced by the down-regulation of cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6), and prostaglandin E2. The mechanisms of action triggered by DAPP induced also a down-regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 and nuclear factor-κB, respectively. These actions were accompanied by the induction of Nrf2 (orchestrating cellular antioxidant defenses and maintaining redox homeostasis), and PGC-1α (the “master controller” of mitochondrial biogenesis).


Our findings provide evidence of the capacity of DAPP to reduce OxS and inflammation, two pivotal processes involved in inflammatory bowel diseases.


Apple is an important fruit full of polyphenols, anthocyanins, antioxidants, and Nrf2 activators that help to make Ultimate Protector+ such an outstanding nutritional supplement.



Dr. Hank Liers, PhD Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs superfoodToday I talk about my REJUVENATE!™ BERRIES & HERBS high-RNA superfood. I designed it to be a super-delicious, intensely berry flavored superfood with no greens. I put in real organic berries—BLUEBERRY, STRAWBERRY, RASPBERRY, and CRANBERRY—so it bursts with true berry flavors! I recently updated the formula, so it is is more delicious and nutritious than ever.


Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs is a delicious high-RNA (390 mg), high-protein (14.6 g) (organic pea and organic rice), high-antioxidant (ORAC value of 14,000+), high fiber (13 g) superfood with a creamy smoothness and rich berry flavor that tastes beyond great! It also boosts health with a complete multivitamin-multimineral sub-formula and important cell-protective herbs (herbal complex) that includes ginger, dandelion, burdock, turmeric, green tea extract, astragalus, and many other health-building herbs.

How to use Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs? Just mix in water, juices, nut milks, or smoothies to create a drink with superb health benefits. Or use it creatively in foods, such as nut butters, salads, fruits, sauce/dressings, or desserts. It tastes so good, some people like to eat it by itself—or mixed in a little purified water.

rejuvenate berries herbs


Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs is among HPDI’s premier high-RNA superfoods. That is, Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs is one of three Rejuvenate! superfoods, which are the world’s first—and only—dedicated high-RNA superfoods. High-RNA nutrition means high in dietary nucleic acids, which Dr. Benjamin S. Frank considers to be essential nutrients, like vitamins and minerals (Dietary Nucleic Acid Nutrition & Therapy). Dr. Frank’s studies demonstrate many benefits of nucleic acids, including: greater energy, endurance, functional strength, easier breathing (anti-anoxic effect), as well as cardiovascular benefits and cosmetic benefits (smoother skin and a more youthful appearance).

Highlights of Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs:

• Delicious Berry Flavor Bursts with Real Organic Berries!
• Powerful Organic and Wildcrafted Cell-Protective Herbs
• High ORAC Value (~14,270 units)
• 390 mg Dietary Nucleic Acids (RNA/DNA) from Vegetarian Sources
• Multiple Prebiotics Supporting your Microbiome
• Gluten Free, Vegan/Vegetarian, No Artificial Ingredients
• Mixes Well with other Rejuvenate!™ Superfoods

My updated formula (as of 12/2018) features, per serving:

– 2.6 g more protein (14.6 g total)
– Very little sugar (1.2 g total)
– 7.0 g more fiber (13 g total)
– 100 mg of organic BiAloe® aloe vera gel powder with over 18% acemannan
– 700 mcg of folate as 5-MTHF (natural, coenzyme folate)
– A smooth & delicious taste (even better than before!)

Given all the upgrades I recently made to the formula, I certainly hope you will give it a try. I’m so happy with it, and I use it daily. Berries & Herbs hardly feels (or tastes!) like a nutritional supplement. But believe me, there are few superfoods anywhere that provide as much nutrition—or nutrient density!


To give you a better idea of the high-quality ingredients I put into Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs, check out this complete list of ingredients:

INGREDIENTS: REJUVENATE! BERRIES & HERBS contains: pea protein*, rice protein*, flax seed powder*, rice bran solubles, d-ribose, cranberry powder*, blueberry powder*, raspberry powder*, strawberry powder*, nutritional yeast, sunflower lecithin, inulin (from chicory root), broccoli sprouts powder*, mannitol, xylitol* (from hardwood), magnesium malate, VitaBerry® Plus† (from freeze dried wild blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry, prune, cherry, wild bilberry, whole grape powders, resveratrol, and quercetin), l-lysine hydrochloride, mixed berry flavoring* (on gum acacia), vanilla flavoring* (on gum acacia), RNA (from yeast), magnesium ascorbate, chlorella growth factor (CGF), burdock root powder*, astragalus powder*, turmeric root powder*, ginger root powder*, digestive multienzyme complex, choline bitartrate, malic acid, dulse*, kelp*, aloe vera* (BiAloe® concentrate), n-acetyl-l-cysteine, rutin, milk thistle extract, green tea extract, licorice root powder*, dandelion root powder*, rhodolia extract, inositol, biotin, stevia leaf extract, alpha lipoic acid, d-alpha tocopheryl succinate, niacinamide (Vit. B3), whole grape extract, high-gamma mixed tocopherols, phylloquinone (Vit. K1), immune assist mushroom extract, pantothenic acid, resveratrol, methylcobalamin (Vit. B12), pyridoxal-5’-phospate (Vit. B6), thiamin diphosphate (Vit. B1), riboflavin-5’-phosphate (Vit. B2), l-selenomethionone, cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), and calcium L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate.

*Organic ingredient
†VitaBerry Plus® is a registered trademark of VDF Futureceuticals, Inc.

Rejuvenate berries and herbs nutrition facts table

Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs is available from Health Products Distributors, Inc.:

Try Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs  (organic and wildcrafted berries & herbs)

You may also like: Rejuvenate! PLUS (light, sweet green superfood)

There are three Rejuvenate! superfoods. Which one is best for you? See our Rejuvenate!™ comparison page.





Dr. Hank Liers, PhD vitamin B12 B-12 cobalamin methylcobalaminI previously wrote METHYLATION CYCLE, GENETICS, B VITAMINS in which I considered in-depth how the Methylation Cycle functions, how genetics affect metabolic pathways, and how B vitamins (including vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B2) are used in Methylation Cycle pathways. In today’s article, I take an in-depth view of what you need to know about vitamin B12, including the effects of not having sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12 in the body.

Vitamin B12 is one of eight B vitamins. It is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin. It consists of a class of chemically related compounds (vitamers), all of which show physiological activity. It contains the biochemically rare element cobalt positioned in the center of a chemical ring structure.

Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body. It is a cofactor in DNA synthesis, and in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. It is particularly important in the normal functioning of the nervous system via its role in the synthesis of myelin and in the maturation of developing red blood cells in the bone marrow.

vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 contains the biochemically rare element cobalt positioned in the center of a chemical ring structure.


Vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutritional deficiencies in the world. An extensive 2004 study showed that deficiency is a major health concern in many parts of the world, including the North America, Central and South America, India, and certain areas in Africa. It is estimated that 40 percent of people may have low levels of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 affects your mood, energy level, memory, nervous system, heart, skin, hair, digestion and more. It is a key nutrient regarding adrenal fatigue and multiple metabolic functions including enzyme production, DNA synthesis, and hormonal balance.

Because of vitamin B12’s extensive roles within the body, a vitamin deficiency can show up in many different symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, mood disorders such as depression, chronic stress, and low energy.


The only organisms to produce vitamin B12 are certain bacteria and archaea. Some of these bacteria are found in the soil around the grasses that ruminants eat. They are taken into the animal, proliferate, form part of their gut flora, and continue to produce vitamin B12.

Products of animal origin such as beef (especially liver), chicken, pork, eggs, dairy, clams, and fish constitute the primary food source of vitamin B12. Older individuals and vegans are advised to use vitamin B12 fortified foods and supplements to meet their needs.

vitamin B12 salmon

Salmon is a good source of Vitamin B12

Commercially, Vitamin B12 is prepared by bacterial fermentation. Fermentation by a variety of microorganisms yields a mixture of methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin. Since multiple species of propionibacterium produce no exotoxins or endotoxins and have been granted GRAS status (generally regarded as safe) by the United States Food and Drug Administration, they are the preferred bacterial fermentation organisms for vitamin B12 production.

Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 used in the human body (called coenzyme forms). The form of cobalamin used in many some nutritional supplements and fortified foods, cyanocobalamin, is readily converted to 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin in the body.

Hydroxocobalamin is the direct precursor of methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin. In mammals, cobalamin is a cofactor for only two enzymes, methionine synthase (MS) and L-methylmalonyl-coenzyme A mutase (MUT).

Unlike most other vitamins, B12 is stored in substantial amounts, mainly in the liver, until it is needed by the body. If a person stops consuming the vitamin, the body’s stores of this vitamin usually take about 3 to 5 years to exhaust. Vitamin B12 is primarily stored in the liver as 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin, but is easily converted to methylcobalamin.


Vitamin B12, bound to protein in food, is released by the activity of hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach. Intestinal absorption of vitamin B12 requires successively three different protein molecules: Haptocorrin, Intrinsic Factor and Transcobalamin II. If there are deficiencies in any of these factors absorption of Vitamin B12 can be seriously decreased.

When vitamin B12 is added to fortified foods and dietary supplements, it is already in free form and, thus, does not require the separation from food protein step. Free vitamin B12 then combines with intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein secreted by the stomach’s parietal cells, and the resulting complex undergoes absorption within the distal ileum by receptor-mediated endocytosis.

Approximately 56% of a 1 mcg oral dose of vitamin B12 is absorbed, but absorption decreases drastically when the capacity of intrinsic factor is exceeded (at 1–2 mcg of vitamin B12).

Vitamin B12 – 5 mg methylcobalamin sublingual lozenge

Vitamin B12 – 5 mg Methylcobalamin sublingual lozenge.


Vitamin B12 deficiency can be difficult to detect, especially since the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can be similar to many common symptoms, such as feeling tired or unfocused, experienced by people for a variety of reasons.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly associated with chronic stomach inflammation, which may contribute to an autoimmune vitamin B12 malabsorption syndrome called pernicious anemia and to a food-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption syndrome. Poor absorption of vitamin may be related to coeliac disease. Impairment of vitamin B12 absorption can cause megaloblastic anemia and neurologic disorders in deficient subjects. In some cases, permanent damage can be caused to the body when B12 amounts are deficient.

It is noteworthy that normal function of the digestive system required for food-bound vitamin B12 absorption is commonly impaired in individuals over 60 years of age, placing them at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.

A diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency is typically based on the measurement of serum vitamin B12 levels within the blood. However, studies show that about 50 percent of patients with diseases related to vitamin B12 deficiency have normal B12 levels when tested. This can cause individuals to ignore taking in adequate levels of vitamin B12 with potential serious consequences.


  • Vitamin B12 or cobalamin plays essential roles in folate metabolism and in the synthesis of the citric acid cycle intermediate, succinyl-CoA.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly associated with chronic stomach inflammation, which may contribute to an autoimmune vitamin B12 malabsorption syndrome called pernicious anemia and to a food-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption syndrome. Impairment of vitamin B12 absorption can cause megaloblastic anemia and neurologic disorders in deficient subjects.
  • Normal function of the digestive system required for food-bound vitamin B12 absorption is commonly impaired in individuals over 60 years of age, placing them at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Vitamin B12 and folate are important for homocysteine metabolism. Elevated homocysteine levels in blood are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). B vitamin supplementation has been proven effective to control homocysteine levels.
  • The preservation of DNA integrity is dependent on folate and vitamin B12 availability. Poor vitamin B12 status has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer in some, but not all, observational studies.
  • Low maternal vitamin B12 status has been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects (NTD), but it is not known whether vitamin B12 supplementation could help reduce the risk of NTD.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for the preservation of the myelin sheath around neurons and for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. A severe vitamin B12 deficiency may damage nerves, causing tingling or loss of sensation in the hands and feet, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, difficulty walking, confusion, and dementia.
  • While hyperhomocysteinemia may increase the risk of cognitive impairment, it is not clear whether vitamin B12 deficiency contributes to the risk of dementia in the elderly. Although B-vitamin supplementation lowers homocysteine levels in older subjects, the long-term benefit is not yet known.
  • Both depression and osteoporosis have been linked to diminished vitamin B12 status and high homocysteine levels.
  • The long-term use of certain medications, such as inhibitors of stomach acid secretion, can adversely affect vitamin B12 absorption.
  • Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.


1. Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin functions as a cofactor for methionine synthase. Methionine synthase (MS) catalyzes the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. Methionine along with ATP is required for the formation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a universal methyl donor for almost 100 different substrates, including DNA, RNA, hormones, proteins, and lipids.
2. Vitamin B12 as 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin functions as a cofactor along with L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (MUT) to convert L-methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA in the degradation of propionate, an essential biochemical reaction in fat and protein metabolism. Succinyl-CoA is also required for hemoglobin synthesis.
Metabolic Pathway


3. Vitamin B12, bound to protein in food, is released by the activity of hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach. When synthetic vitamin B12 is added to fortified foods and dietary supplements, it is already in free form and, thus, does not require this separation step. Free vitamin B12 then combines with intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein secreted by the stomach’s parietal cells, and the resulting complex undergoes absorption within the distal ileum by receptor-mediated endocytosis. Approximately 56% of a 1 mcg oral dose of vitamin B12 is absorbed, but absorption decreases drastically when the capacity of intrinsic factor is exceeded (at 1–2 mcg of vitamin B12).

4. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the gastric mucosa and results in gastric atrophy. This leads to the destruction of parietal cells, achlorhydria, and failure to produce intrinsic factor, resulting in vitamin B12 malabsorption. If pernicious anemia is left untreated, it causes vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to megaloblastic anemia and neurological disorders, even in the presence of adequate dietary intake of vitamin B12.

5. Vitamin B12 status is typically assessed via serum or plasma vitamin B12 levels. Values below approximately 170–250 pg/mL (120–180 picomol/L) for adults indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, evidence suggests that serum vitamin B12 concentrations might not accurately reflect intracellular concentrations. An elevated serum homocysteine level (values >13 micromol/L) might also suggest a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, this indicator has poor specificity because it is influenced by other factors, such as low vitamin B6 or folate levels. Elevated methylmalonic acid levels (values >0.4 micromol/L) might be a more reliable indicator of vitamin B12 status because they indicate a metabolic change that is highly specific to vitamin B12 deficiency.

6. Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Neurological changes, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur . Additional symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue. The neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can occur without anemia, so early diagnosis and intervention is important to avoid irreversible damage. During infancy, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include failure to thrive, movement disorders, developmental delays, and megaloblastic anemia. Many of these symptoms are general and can result from a variety of medical conditions other than vitamin B12 deficiency.

7. Typically, vitamin B12 deficiency is treated with vitamin B12 injections, since this method bypasses potential barriers to absorption. However, high doses of oral vitamin B12 can also be effective. The authors of a review of randomized controlled trials comparing oral with intramuscular vitamin B12 concluded that 2,000 mcg (I like 5,000 mcg) of oral vitamin B12 daily, followed by a decreased daily dose of 1,000 mcg and then 1,000 mcg weekly and finally, monthly might be as effective as intramuscular administration. Overall, an individual patient’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 is the most important factor in determining whether vitamin B12 should be administered orally or via injection. In most countries, the practice of using intramuscular vitamin B12 to treat vitamin B12 deficiency has remained unchanged.

8. Large amounts of folate can mask the damaging effects of vitamin B12 deficiency by correcting the megaloblastic anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency without correcting the neurological damage that also occurs. Moreover, preliminary evidence suggests that high serum folate levels might not only mask vitamin B12 deficiency, but could also exacerbate the anemia and worsen the cognitive symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated. For these reasons, folate intake from fortified food and supplements should not exceed 1,000 mcg daily in healthy adults.

Groups at Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The main causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include vitamin B12 malabsorption from food, pernicious anemia, postsurgical malabsorption, and dietary deficiency. However, in many cases, the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is unknown. The following groups are among those most likely to be vitamin B12 deficient.

Older adults: Atrophic gastritis, a condition affecting 10%–30% of older adults, decreases secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, resulting in decreased absorption of vitamin B12. Decreased hydrochloric acid levels might also increase the growth of normal intestinal bacteria that use vitamin B12, further reducing the amount of vitamin B12 available to the bodY.

Individuals with atrophic gastritis are unable to absorb the vitamin B12 that is naturally present in food. Most, however, can absorb the synthetic vitamin B12 added to fortified foods and dietary supplements. As a result, the IOM recommends that adults older than 50 years obtain most of their vitamin B12 from vitamin supplements or fortified foods. However, some elderly patients with atrophic gastritis require doses much higher than the RDA to avoid subclinical deficiency.

Individuals with pernicious anemia: Pernicious anemia, a condition that affects 1%–2% of older adults, is characterized by a lack of intrinsic factor. Individuals with pernicious anemia cannot properly absorb vitamin B12 in the gastrointestinal tract. Pernicious anemia is usually treated with intramuscular vitamin B12. However, approximately 1% of oral vitamin B12 can be absorbed passively in the absence of intrinsic factor, suggesting that high oral doses of vitamin B12 might also be an effective treatment.

Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders: Individuals with stomach and small intestine disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, may be unable to absorb enough vitamin B12 from food to maintain healthy body stores. Subtly reduced cognitive function resulting from early vitamin B12 deficiency might be the only initial symptom of these intestinal disorders, followed by megaloblastic anemia and dementia.

Individuals who have had gastrointestinal surgery: Surgical procedures in the gastrointestinal tract, such as weight loss surgery or surgery to remove all or part of the stomach, often result in a loss of cells that secrete hydrochloric acid and intrinsic factor. This reduces the amount of vitamin B12, particularly food-bound vitamin B12, that the body releases and absorbs. Surgical removal of the distal ileum also can result in the inability to absorb vitamin B12. Individuals undergoing these surgical procedures should be monitored preoperatively and postoperatively for several nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vegetarians: Strict vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk than lacto-ovo vegetarians and non-vegetarians of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods. Fortified breakfast cereals and fortified nutritional yeasts are some of the only sources of vitamin B12 from plants and can be used as dietary sources of vitamin B12 for strict vegetarians and vegans. Fortified foods vary in formulation, so it is important to read the Nutrition Facts labels on food products to determine the types and amounts of added nutrients they contain.

Pregnant and lactating women who follow strict vegetarian diets and their infants: Vitamin B12 crosses the placenta during pregnancy and is present in breast milk. Exclusively breastfed infants of women who consume no animal products may have very limited reserves of vitamin B12 and can develop vitamin B12 deficiency within months of birth. Undetected and untreated vitamin B12 deficiency in infants can result in severe and permanent neurological damage.

The American Dietetic Association recommends supplemental vitamin B12 for vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians during both pregnancy and lactation to ensure that enough vitamin B12 is transferred to the fetus and infant. Pregnant and lactating women who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets should consult with a pediatrician regarding vitamin B12 supplements for their infants and children.

Health Risks from Excessive Vitamin B12

The IOM did not establish a UL for vitamin B12 because of its low potential for toxicity. In Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline, the IOM states that “no adverse effects have been associated with excess vitamin B12 intake from food and supplements in healthy individuals”.

Findings from intervention trials support these conclusions. In the NORVIT and HOPE 2 trials, vitamin B12 supplementation (in combination with folic acid and vitamin B6) did not cause any serious adverse events when administered at doses of 0.4 mg for 40 months (NORVIT trial) and 1.0 mg for 5 years (HOPE 2 trial).

Interactions with Medications

Vitamin B12 has the potential to interact with certain medications. In addition, several types of medications might adversely affect vitamin B12 levels. A few examples are provided below. Individuals taking these and other medications on a regular basis should discuss their vitamin B12 status with their healthcare providers.

Chloramphenicol: Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin®) is a bacteriostatic antibiotic. Limited evidence from case reports indicates that chloramphenicol can interfere with the red blood cell response to supplemental vitamin B12 in some patients.

Proton pump inhibitors: Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec®) and lansoprazole (Prevacid®), are used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcer disease. These drugs can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption from food by slowing the release of gastric acid into the stomach. However, the evidence is conflicting on whether proton pump inhibitor use affects vitamin B12 status. As a precaution, healthcare providers should monitor vitamin B12 status in patients taking proton pump inhibitors for prolonged periods.

H2 receptor antagonists: Histamine H2 receptor antagonists, used to treat peptic ulcer disease, include cimetidine (Tagamet®), famotidine (Pepcid®), and ranitidine (Zantac®). These medications can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 from food by slowing the release of hydrochloric acid into the stomach. Although H2 receptor antagonists have the potential to cause vitamin B12 deficiency, no evidence indicates that they promote vitamin B12 deficiency, even after long-term use. Clinically significant effects may be more likely in patients with inadequate vitamin B12 stores, especially those using H2 receptor antagonists continuously for more than 2 years.

Metformin: Metformin, a hypoglycemic agent used to treat diabetes, might reduce the absorption of vitamin B12, possibly through alterations in intestinal mobility, increased bacterial overgrowth, or alterations in the calcium-dependent uptake by ileal cells of the vitamin B12-intrinsic factor complex. Small studies and case reports suggest that 10%–30% of patients who take metformin have reduced vitamin B12 absorption. In a randomized, placebo controlled trial in patients with type 2 diabetes, metformin treatment for 4.3 years significantly decreased vitamin B12 levels by 19% and raised the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency by 7.2% compared with placebo. Some studies suggest that supplemental calcium might help improve the vitamin B12 malabsorption caused by metformin, but not all researchers agree.


FROM: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/71/2/514/4729184
Plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations relate to intake source in the Framingham Offspring Study

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 71, Issue 2, 1 February 2000, Pages 514–522, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/71.2.514


Background: Low vitamin B-12 status is prevalent among the elderly, but few studies have examined the association between vitamin B-12 status and intake.
Objective: We hypothesized that vitamin B-12 concentrations vary according to intake source.
Design: Plasma concentrations and dietary intakes were assessed cross-sectionally for 2999 subjects in the Framingham Offspring Study. The prevalence of vitamin B-12 concentrations <148, 185, and 258 pmol/L was examined by age group (26–49, 50–64, and 65–83 y), supplement use, and the following food intake sources: fortified breakfast cereal, dairy products, and meat.
Results: Thirty-nine percent of subjects had plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations <258 pmol/L, 17% had concentrations <185 pmol/L, and 9% had concentrations <148 pmol/L, with little difference between age groups. Supplement users were significantly less likely than non-supplement-users to have concentrations <185 pmol/L (8% compared with 20%, respectively). Among non-supplement-users, there were significant differences between those who consumed fortified cereal >4 times/wk (12%) and those who consumed no fortified cereal (23%) and between those in the highest and those in the lowest tertile of dairy intake (13% compared with 24%, respectively), but no significant differences by meat tertile. Regression of plasma vitamin B-12 on log of intake, by source, yielded significant slopes for each contributor adjusted for the others. For the total group, b = 40.6 for vitamin B-12 from vitamin supplements. Among non-supplement-users, b = 56.4 for dairy products, 35.2 for cereal, and 16.7 for meat. Only the meat slope differed significantly from the others.
Conclusions: In contrast with previous reports, plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations were associated with vitamin B-12 intake. Use of supplements, fortified cereal, and milk appears to protect against lower concentrations. Further research is needed to investigate possible differences in bioavailability.





Irena Ossola pro cyclist nutritional supplementsHPDI’s sponsored athlete Irena Ossola has been a bike tour leader in Italy this summer and fall. During that time, she scaled back her nutritional supplement regimen. This is partly because the summer and fall period is one of rest from high-intensity competitive bike training—and because her training for the new racing season has not yet begun. However, she recorded her observations regarding nutritional supplements. She concludes they are important whether or not she is actively training for races. – editor

Irena Ossola

I have been working like a maniac and nonstop since I arrived in Italy for my bike touring job at the end of August. However, I am feeling good and recovering well and happy to move forward for next year in training. I am starting to really look forward to getting in some hard solid winter training now and especially being in Tucson will be amazing!! I can’t wait to get back into my regular training regime. On another note, I’ve recorded some observations during my time in Italy about my nutrition and vitamins.

Beginning August:

“As I am now at the beginning of my touring/working season, I like to use this time as my sort of “off time” for supplements. Regarding vitamins and other nutritional supplements, I have found in the past that I have trouble staying on schedule and taking them while working. I feel that my nutrition is still adequate as I eat vegetables and meat and other necessary things for the amount of effort and activity I am putting my body through. Yet, I also know I will feel the difference without a constant flow of vitamins and supplements from Health Products Distributors, Inc.”

Beginning September:

“Now that I am in my moment of break and I’ve been working constantly for about a month, I must stay that I have also not been taking vitamins for a couple weeks and I can definitely feel the difference. Especially in my diet when I am not eating as healthy (as I do when training) or being as consistent with consuming vegetables.

I notice a lack of energy when I am working and lack of intensity on the bike when I’m riding. This is fine for now, and a good test for me as during this time I do not need a high-intensity effort while riding and it is a good test of my energy levels to see the contrast while I’m working compared to training.

I will begin taking some supplements again regularly which I think will help and will also demonstrate the necessity to have a regular schedule of nutritional supplements even when my work and travel schedule is so busy.”

Beginning October:

“Boy do I feel the difference! Since I have been regularly taking supplements again I can feel my energy going up and my willingness to push more and have more intensity on the bike. I feel the difference in my regular diet as well as I feel more motivated to eat healthy. This is a big contrast and difference I can see from the period when I was taking supplements to when I stopped and now again to taking them. This shows how big the influence of nutritional supplementation is for my body.

I will continue taking my vitamins and being active while working and also eating a healthy diet to maintain my energy levels and physical ability. I am so busy while working that supplements are often hard to take while changing hotels or setting things up for the day. But if I have my vitamin bag and make sure to keep it somewhere easily accessible, then I am more willing to take them and can easily.

It is great to be working so closely with an amazing company like Health Products Distributors, Inc. where I can do this sort of test to see the differences. It shows a huge difference in their products compared to just food and how they affect my body. I have been taking Mighty Multi-Vite!, Ultimate Protector, Essential Fats Plus E, and Myo-Mag.

The supplements are amazing and I LOVE them and again I cannot wait to return to my competitive training this winter in Tucson.” ~


Editor’s notes: Irena primarily takes HPDI Foundational Supplements which are the base or core of a nutritional supplement program. Foundational supplements include a high-potency multivitamin (Hank & Brian’s Mighty Multi-Vite!™), vitamin C/antioxidant formulas (Ultimate Protector Nrf2 activator formula), essential fats (Essential Fats Plus E), and Rejuvenate! high-RNA superfoods (Rejuvenate! Original Greens, Rejuvenate! PLUS, and Rejuvenate! Berries & Herbs). She also takes other HPDI formulas like Myo-Mag (magnesium formula), pH Adjust alkalinizing formula, Warrior Mist (topical pain reliever), and other formulas depending on her needs.