Scientists develop low-level B12 test for beverages

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Scientists from Reading Scientific Services have developed a method
for quantifying vitamin B12 in beverages at lower levels than
previously possible, which will enable manufacturers to give more
accurate information on labels.

The vitamin, also known as cobalamin, is reputed to help boost energy. Its primary functions are the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.

B12 is often added to energy drinks at levels of around 0.1 to 0.2 µg/100ml, but according to the company this would be below the detection limit for most tests. This means that companies have been limited in their scope to refer to B12 content on their labels.

RSSL's Marta Ahijado called the development a "significant breakthrough".

"Clients can now provide reliable data to support labelling claims in respect of one of their key ingredients, where it was once impossible to do so".

Although 0.1-0.2 µg/100ml seems like a very low level, the current RDA for vitamin B12 in Europe is only 1 microgram for adults, while the US dietary reference intake (DRI) is 2.4 micrograms.

There have been calls from some in the scientific community to raise the European RDA; some say by as much as 500 per cent.

Average commercial multivitamin supplements in Denmark contain only 1 microgram of vitamin B12, while in the Netherlands the average is 2 micrograms. Some multivitamin formulations in the UK contain as little as 0.5 micrograms.

Natural dietary sources include meat, eggs and dairy products. Although it is also present in some plants such as soya and seaweed, it is believed to be in a form that is not bioavailable for humans. Consumers who are likely to miss out on dietary B12, such as vegetarians and vegans, are advised to consume B12-fortified foods or take supplements.

RSSL is keeping details of its method a closely guarded secret save to say that it uses it Biacore instrumentation, which has also been used to develop detection tests for biotin and folic acid.

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