Cobalamin/Vitamin B12 (Cbl) is an essential vitamin, supplied mainly as hydroxocobalamin (OHCbl) by animal products, including cows' milk. Cyanocobalamin (CNCbl) is the usual form in vitamin pills. The aim was to explore absorption and tissue accumulation of two Cbl forms, administered alone or bound to milk protein.
Materials and methods
We synthesized labeled OH[57Co]Cbl from commercially available CN[57Co]Cbl. Recombinant bovine transcobalamin (rbTC) was produced in yeast and skimmed milk obtained off the shelf. Male Wistar rats (250–300 g) received labeled Cbl by gastric gavage. First, we administered CN[57Co]Cbl, free or rbTC-bound (n = 15 in each group). Rats were sacrificed after two, 24, and 48 h. In the following studies, rats were sacrificed after 24 h. We compared absorption of free or rbTC-bound CN[57Co]Cbl added to cows' milk and analogous absorption of OH[57Co]Cbl, free or rbTC-bound, to absorption of free CN[57Co]Cbl, (n = 10 in each group). Blood, tissues, 24-h urine and feces were collected. Labeled Cbl was measured using a gamma counter. Results are expressed as percentage of administered dose.
Absorptions of CNCbl and OHCbl were neither influenced by rbTC-binding nor administration in milk. Absorption increased in the first 24 h with no further tissue accumulation during the subsequent 24 h. Accumulation of free CNCbl and (OHCbl) was 1.4, (4.1) (liver); 20.2, (16.4) (kidney); and 0.05, (0.02) (plasma)% 24 h after administration. Total organ accumulations were 21.6, (20.5)%. While total accumulations of CNCbl and OHCbl were equal, distributions between liver, kidney, and plasma showed significant differences (p < 0.0001; p = 0.01; p < 0.0001).
Cbl added to milk (spiked with rbTC) has high bioavailability matching that of free Cbl. OHCbl and CNCbl are absorbed equally well, but much more OHCbl accumulated in the liver. Benefits of oral supplementation with OHCbl compared to CNCbl should be investigated.