Vitamin B12: Benefits, Food Sources, Deficiency and Dosage
Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin or cobalamin acid is one of eight water-soluble vitamins. The term cobalamin comes from the Latin word folium which means 'leaf' because it is found in many leafy plants and vegetables.
Apart from producing energy, cobalamin acid is essential for brain function and promoting mental and emotional health.
Vitamin B12 is naturally produced in certain types of bacteria and archaea that are normally found in soil mixed with grasses that are eaten by certain mammals such as cattle and sheep.
The bacteria then multiply in their bodies forming part of their intestinal flora, are absorbed in muscle mass, pass through their bodies and are again released into the soil to produce more vitamin B12.
Therefore, vitamin B12 is passed on to some fermented plant products, in milk, meat or eggs obtained from animals.
Our bodies normally absorb vitamin B12 from food in two distinct phases. In Phase 1, hydrochloric acid present in the stomach releases vitamin B12 from the food we eat.
Whereas, in Phase 2, a protein secreted in the stomach known as intrinsic factor attaches to vitamin B12 and hence helps it to be absorbed by the body.
Unlike other water soluble vitamins, cobalamin is one of the largest and structurally more complex than the others.
Each of the vitamins that make up vitamin B12 has strong physiological activity and also includes the rare element cobalt placed in the center of the corrin ring. Vitamin B12 is chemically available in four forms, cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin.
These forms function mostly as coenzymes, i.e. assist in various enzyme-catalyzed reactions, vitamin B12 was discovered and processed in 1972 by chemists Robert Burns Woodward and Albert Eschenmoser.
The Benefits of Vitamin B12/Cobalamin
Vitamin B12/cobalamin for the Brain and Nerves
Vitamin B12 is a powerful nerve compound and is essential for the production of neurotransmitters. These compounds are required for proper growth, development and function of the brain and nerves, formation of red blood cells, cell metabolism, and DNA production.
Being a good compound for the brain, it plays an important role in treating and preventing psychotic conditions such as Alzheimer's, memory loss and dementia.
This substance also slows aging, stimulates mood, improves mental function, and strengthens the immune system.
Cobalamin for Mental Problems
Plays an important role as a cofactor, which helps in managing neurotransmitters that regulate mood swings, preventing depression, mental disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, pain and fatigue.
Prevent heart disease
Regular intake of vitamin B12 has reduced blood levels of homocysteine, a protein responsible for damaging artery walls, an increase that can lead to heart disease and an increased risk of hardening of the arteries, namely atherosclerosis. It also effectively reduces the risk of high triglyceride levels in the blood leading to a marked reduction of heart block and stroke.
Treating Diabetes and various chronic diseases
Cobalamin is also important for treating conditions such as diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage in the hands or feet, weak bones (osteoporosis), swollen tendons, male infertility, insomnia, AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, asthma, allergies, skin diseases. called vitiligo, and a skin infection.
Vitamin B12, when taken through food or natural supplements, helps produce healthy red blood cells and prevents conditions such as anemia.
Vitamin B12 is good for pregnant women
Along with cobalamin acid, Vitamin B12 is also important for preventing the fetus from developing major congenital abnormalities of the brain or spine, including neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Therefore, women who are planning a pregnancy are advised to take vitamin B12 at the previous consultation to prevent sudden miscarriage and avoid this abnormality in the fetus.
Promotes Bone Health
Consumed in adequate amounts, vitamin B12 helps promote bone health, increases bone density, mineralizes bones and aids in the natural growth and remodeling of bones.
It also reduces the risk of fractures, strengthens bones, maintains the overall balance of the body and gives the body a strong and perfect skeletal structure.
Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in treating a number of diseases such as age related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, oral problems such as gingivitis, thrush, thrush, thyroid, Lyme disease, tinnitus, kidney and respiratory problems.
Reducing the risk of developing Cancer
It also helps in reducing the risk of various types of cancer including breast cancer, uterine cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, colorectal cancer and gallbladder cancer.
Vitamin B12 for Beauty
Cobalamin basically promotes healthy hair, skin and nails. It also improves skin texture by preventing oxidative damage and treating various dermatological conditions.
Further, it rejuvenates and moisturizes the skin, reduces various signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, freckles, dark circles, hyperpigmentation etc, making it clear. In the case of hair, and nails, it prevents discoloration, maintains the natural color of hair and nails, and prevents them from becoming brittle and breaking.
Food sources Vitamin B12/Cobalamin
This vitamin controls mood which is important for healthy brain and body function. Like other water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B12 is also excreted by the body through urine and sweat.
Hence one should consume foods rich in vitamin B12 dietary options to prevent deficiency syndrome.
The following are food sources high in vitamin B12:
- Dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese.
- Some nutrient-dense cereals,
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Certain animal sources such as eggs, fish, shellfish, chicken, and meat are loaded with vitamin B12.
Deficiency Vitamin B12/cobalamin
Although vitamin B12 deficiency is quite rare in most developing countries, a nutritional deficiency of this nutrient can cause severe symptoms leading to vitamin B12 or cobalamin deficiency.
People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, have a decreased ability to absorb this vitamin due to low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, taking certain medications or some digestive problems are more likely to have deficiency syndrome.
Mostly cobalamin deficiency causes various types of anemia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
It is mostly characterized by symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, nerve damage, tingling sensation in the hands and dizziness, fast heart rate, rapid breathing and pale color of the skin.
It can also cause easy bruising or bleeding, blurred vision, fever, difficulty walking, gastrointestinal side effects including sore tongue, upset stomach, weight loss, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, flatulence and constipation.
If this lack of healthy nutrients is not corrected in time, it can lead to severe nerve and brain damage leading to depression, disorientation, and dementia.
Recommended intake of vitamin B12 by doctors
Vitamin B12 is very necessary for healthy brain and nerve cell function, excessive intake through food sources and supplements can be fatal for the body.
The Recommended Dietary Intake is 2.4 mcg for adults, 1.8 mcg for older children, 2.6 mcg for pregnant women and 2.8 mcg for breastfeeding mothers. Anything more than the prescribed amount can cause severe allergic conditions such as dizziness, anxiety, headache, nausea and vomiting.
Vitamin B12 is very healthy. These nutrients are required for the treatment of a number of ailments including nervous disorders, hyperlipidemia, heart problems, skin infections, headaches, and insomnia. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use it in the prescribed amount to avoid harmful side effects and enjoy the health benefits.