Nitrous oxide and nitrox

Hello, lovely people, I wonder if you can help where Google has failed? I understand that those of us with a B12 deficiency are well advised to steer clear of nitrous oxide, and I think that's because the nitrous oxide renders the B12 inactive. I've recently taken up scuba diving (feeling better with all the B12 :)) and one of the diving gases, nitrox, is a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, and I was wondering if that would be damaging to my B12 levels.

I think I've answered my own question in that nitrous oxide has two parts of nitrogen to one of oxygen, and nitrox has one part of nitrogen and two of oxygen. So I'm assuming it's the nitrogen which has the effect on the B12. Please can someone explain if I've got that right, and if not, whether nitrox could affect me if I used it. Nice simple explanations, please - the brain fog is still with me :)


7 Replies

  • NOX, or laughing gas, is toxic to B12. I don't think you want this in a scuba diving tank.

  • If a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen gases caused a problem with B12 we'd all be up the creek. Because that's what makes up our atmosphere.

    The difference between Nitrox and nitrous oxide is that the nitrogen and oxygen in the former are combined in a compound, whereas they are just mixed together in the latter. Elements joined together in compounds are totally different to elements mixed together.

    Sugar has the reduced formula CH2O. But it is a totally different substance to a mixture of charcoal (C) and water (H2O).

  • Ok, I get that a compound is different. But what is it about the compound which affects b12? Clearly neither oxygen nor nitrogen on their own do it. I'd just like to understand!

  • Each nitrogen atom in the nitrox is very closely bound to another nitrogen atom. ditto with the oxygen - they just aren't interested in combining with the B12 molecule because it takes too much energy. nitrous oxide is a different matter. It sees the B12 molecule and immediately the oxygen atom wants to react with the B12 molecule and leave the nitrogen molecule - because maintaining its bond with the nitrogen atom takes more energy than combining with the B12 molecule ...

    that's hugely simplistic but ...

  • Yup, what Gambit62 said.

    It's very much like the difference between oxygen and ozone. Oxygen gas is two oxygen atoms bonded together. Although oxygen gas is fairly reactive we can happily exist with lots of it around us.

    Ozone is also made of oxygen atoms, but three atoms joined in a ring. This makes it a lot more reactive, because the ozone molecule can pass a single atom of oxygen to something else, leaving a nice, stable oxygen molecule.

  • Hi - I'm also a diver. Nitrox for diving, or The more explanatory EAN - enriched air nitrox, is only air that has been enriched so that it contains normally 32% oxygen as opposed to the natural 21%. It is in no way related to nitrous oxide.

    Happy diving, blub, blub!

  • Thanks all! Really helpful!

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