Vitamins doing gymnastics: Scientists capture first full image of vitamin B12 in action

Kara Gavin
EurekAlert

Work by University of Michigan and MIT team yields new understanding of crucial reaction in the body and in CO2-scrubbing bacteria.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — You see it listed on the side of your cereal box and your multivitamin bottle. It’s vitamin B12, part of a nutritious diet like all those other vitamins and minerals.

But when it gets inside your body, new research suggests, B12 turns into a gymnast.

In a paper published recently in the journal Nature, scientists from the University of Michigan Health System and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report they have created the first full 3-D images of B12 and its partner molecules twisting and contorting as part of a crucial reaction called methyltransfer.

That reaction is vital both in the cells of the human body and, in a slightly different way, in the cells of bacteria that consume carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. That includes bacteria that live in the guts of humans, cows and other animals, and help with digestion. The new research was done using B12 complexes from another type of carbon dioxide-munching bacteria found in the murky bottoms of ponds.

Read More: Vitamins doing gymnastics: Scientists capture first full image of vitamin B12 in action

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