A new study has uncovered an amazing view of how vitamin B12 works in our bodies. The essential nutrient at the heart of this health breakthrough acts like a gymnast inside us! Let’s see what scientists found after the first-ever full image of vitamin B12 in action.
In a report published in the journal “Nature,” scientists reveal the first full 3-D images of B12 and its partner molecules twisting and contorting. This reaction in the body is very important and is called “methyl transfer.”
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This is vital both to the cells of the human body and to cells in healthy bacteria that live deep in your gut. The 3-D images reveal an intricate molecular juggling act that B12 uses to serve its vital function. It is a complicated process with an elaborate protein framework, far more complex than we had imagined.
Researchers noted that methyl transfer is important to understand, because of its significance to human health. Vitamin B12 helps transfer single carbon units, along with partner folic acid. In its absence, scientists believe that heart disease and birth defects could be far more common.
Also, the probiotic bacteria that perform so many important functions in your digestive system would be unable to consume the carbon dioxide or monoxide they need to stay alive.
The amazing 3-D images show how the complex of molecules contorts into multiple conformations — first to activate, then to protect, and then to change forms on the vitamin B12 molecule itself. Isn’t it amazing that such things happen in your body all day long?
The researchers made these images by aiming intense beams of X-rays at crystallized forms of the protein complex and determining the position of every atom inside. This is certainly beyond the mental scope of most of us. But we are talking about it here, because it illustrates important movements of an important vitamin — and scientists can learn a lot from it.
Who knows what we’ll learn from these dramatic gymnastic displays of this essential nutrient? But all great discoveries begin at the molecular level, the level where chronic disease first sets in.