of the scariest deficiencies known to doctor's is a B12 deficiency.
This is because it can lead to anemia and injury to the nervous system.
If not detected promptly, serious injury may occur with the patient
experiencing increasing imbalance and falling issues actions that can
be fatal for the elderly population. When red blood cells are not
produced efficiently (anemia) the results can be fatal. Therefore,
vitamin b12 is vital for life. Read on to learn what vitamin B12 really
is and how adequate intake of this vitamin is crucial for your health.
What is Vitamin B12?
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and not a fat-soluble vitamin like
vitamin E. It is naturally found in some food items, is fortified in
others and also available as a vitamin supplement in pill form or even
prescribed as an injection. As with most vitamins, it can be found in
different forms but all forms contain the cobalt mineral. Cobalt on its
own can be found in the earth's crust and is considered a trace element
for humans. It forms the center of the B12 vitamin as well as other
co-enzymes known as cobalamins. Two forms of vitamin B12 are active in
human metabolism: methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin.
What Does Vitamin B12 Do in the Body?
B12 is required for three major activities in the human body: red blood
cell formation, neurological function and DNA synthesis. Without enough
vitamin B12, the red blood cells do not divide normally and become too
large. Because of this, they may not be able to leave the bone marrow
where they are produced. This means oxygen is not being adequately
carried around the bloodstream.
the process of DNA synthesis, vitamin B12 supplies the methyl groups
for both the proteins and DNA itself. Around our nerves, we have a fatty
substance called myelin sheaths. They cover and protect the nerves of
the central and peripheral nervous system ensuring proper transmission
of impulses. Vitamin B12 maintains the structure and functioning of
these myelin sheaths. Specifically, B12 is a co-factor in the synthesis
of methionine, an amino acid that is required for methylation reactions,
including the synthesis of myelin. In addition, methionine is
synthesized from homocysteine, another amino acid that is associated
with neurodegenerative diseases when it is found in high levels,
damaging the brain and cognitive health. Vitamin B12 helps to synthesize
methionine, thus lowering levels of homocysteine in turn.
Sources of Vitamin B12
vitamin B12 is found in basically all animal products such as meat,
eggs and dairy products. It is usually not found in plant foods, but
recently, scientists have found it to be present in the edible aquatic
plant duckweed. Otherwise, it must be added to breakfast cereals or
plant milk. Nutritional yeast is also a great source for B12, adding a
cheesy flavor to vegetarian or vegan meals.
a dietary supplement, vitamin B12 is typically found in the form of
cyanocobalamin, a form that the body can easily convert to the active
forms, methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin. Some supplement
brands may include methylcobalamin and other forms of B12 in them
including the cyano form. There does not appear to be a difference in
absorption or bioavailability between the various forms.
Vitamin B12 is also available in the form of tablets, lozenges and even sprays.
are available through a prescription when medically necessary and are
administered via intramuscular injection. Injectable B12 is used to
treat a deficiency caused by pernicious anemia and other conditions
cause vitamin B12 malabsorption and severe B12 deficiency. A nasal spray
is also available via prescription.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
population most prone to vitamin B12 deficiency are older adults. They
may suffer from pernicious anemia (increased immature red blood cells),
have reduced stomach acidity or other intestinal disorders that reduce
the ability to absorb B12 from food. This may happen in younger adults
as well. In addition, vegans and vegetarians who do not supplement or
eat eggs/dairy may need to carefully monitor their B12 supplementation
or fortified food intake.
symptoms of deficiency include anemia, weakness, constipation, fatigue,
loss of appetite and weight loss. If the nerves are affected, patients
will experience numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Other
symptoms include balance difficulties, depression, confusion, dementia,
memory loss and soreness of the mouth and tongue.
conclusion, vitamin B12 is a necessary vitamin, without which we would
suffer serious adverse effects and possibly death if not treated. Both
the circulatory and nervous systems of our bodies are critically
affected by a deficiency in B12. If you think you may be suffering from
such a deficiency, we recommended getting a blood test as soon as
possible to determine whether this is an issue for you. We can set you
up with a simple blood test and prescribe B12 injections if necessary.
It is a simple process to get blood drawn for testing and a simple
diagnosis once complete.