All About Vitamin B12 – Sources, Benefits, Deficiency

Interesting Facts about Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 belongs to and is one of the 8 B vitamins. It is naturally occurring and is water soluble. Unfortunately, plant-based foods lack B12. Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, such as mushroom, can produce and store it. It contains cobalt and exists in several forms. Compounds containing vitamin B12 activity are known as “cobalamins” because of the mineral cobalt contained in it. In fact, it is the only vitamin that contains a metal element. Cyanocobalamin is the most common synthetic form. Forms active in human metabolism of vitamin B12 include methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin. It is also involved in many biological processes, energy metabolism, etc. Unlike other B vitamins, B12 is larger and more complex. Its daily required intake amount is quite low than other vitamins of B class.

Vitamin B12 plays a major role in the central nervous system and heart health. Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to disorders of digestive system, heart diseases and suffering of every cognitive function. Although symptoms are common to other diseases and sometimes can mimic those of dementia, early symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint pain, loss of appetite, poor memory, dizziness, palpitations, poor dental health, muscle aches, nausea, cramping, inability to concentrate, depression, diarrhea, mouth soreness and serious deficiency can lead to pernicious anemia (can cause confusion, memory loss and long-term dementia). Unfortunately, there are no preventive measures for pernicious anemia, which is caused by autoimmune condition. There is no particular age for vitamin B12 deficiency, it can occur at any age, while elderly people with impaired digestion are more prone than others. This happens with elderly people more because of less stomach acid produced in them, which is required for B12 conversion into its active forms and then absorption. Heavy chain smokers and alcohol consumers are also more likely to be B12 deficient because their stomach acid loses ability to convert the vitamin. Therefore, required amount of the vitamin is a must for all, whether coming from vitamin B12 foods, supplements, tablets or injections. Have a quick look to the vitamin B12 sources, food and non-food.

Foods providing vitamin B12 are required to be incorporated in your diet. Since no plant-based food can make and store vitamin B12 and only animal foods can, the best vitamin B12 sources include

1. Salmon

2. Eggs

3. Chicken and beef liver

4. Beef tenderloin

5. Sardines

6. Mackerel

7. Herring

8. Trout

9. Tuna

10. Turkey

11. Lamb

12. Raw milk

13. Organic yogurt/Greek yogurt

14. Scallops

15. Shrimp

16. Cod

Apart from above-mentioned vitamin B12 foods, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products, such as Swiss cheese, milk and other milk-based products, serve as the best vitamin B12 source for vegetarians. In addition to this, certain nutritional yeast products too contain it. Besides fermented foods, chlorella is the biologically active form of vitamin B12 for human use. This B12 in chlorella is known as methylcobalamin. Other sources include spirulina and algae. Vitamin B12 supplements are helpful and an easy source for obtaining vitamin B12 for vegetarians. They are available in sublingual forms – lozenges or tablets. These preparations provide superior bioavailability. Some studies and research work suggests that multi-vitamin tablets are more effective to maintain a proper balance of all B vitamins in the body and proper absorption of all – the reason why the group of B vitamins is termed as “complex”.

Vitamin B12 injections are used in case of impaired digestion. They are used in two forms called cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin. They are used in case of pernicious anemia, vitamin B12 malabsorption and its severe deficiency. For people afraid of injections, some gel formulations are also available, which are proven to be successful in raising the B12 levels.

To know if you are vitamin B12 deficient, give a missed call on 0124-222-3197. Consult on this number with the doctors at NextDoorLab (NDL) free. For conducting this test, blood sample is required. Sometimes bone marrow biopsy is ruled out for finding possible causes of anemia and RBCs abnormalities. For any other related information, visit Book your test online with NDL and get your test done at home.

What are the benefits of vitamin B12? You must be thinking. The vitamin B12 benefits include the following.

1. Red blood cells (RBCs) production

2. Prevents anemia

3. Metabolism of

a. Fatty acids

b. Amino acids

4. DNA synthesis

5. Maintains healthy nerve cells, including those required for neurotransmitter signaling

6. Formation of myelin sheath to cover and protect the nerves

7. Aids in digestion

8. Maintains a healthy heart

9. Maintains energy levels

10. Prevents memory loss

11. Boosts mood

12. Lowers risk of neurodegenerative disease

13. Required for healthy hair and skin

14. Helps and required in pregnancy

15. Helps to prevent cancers

All these functions clearly show the role of this single vitamin, which is required in very less amount, on human health. Every aspect is included in B12. This is the reason for calling it a “powerhouse” and nicknamed as “energy vitamin”.

Prevention form vitamin B12 deficiency includes

1. For vegetarians: consume eggs, fortified foods like cereals, nutritional yeasts and soy milk. Choose whatever you like and keep your B12 intake adequate.

2. For non-vegetarians: fish. Meat and seafood are best sources. Have a balanced diet containing all.

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