Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the formation of red blood cells. It is one of eight B vitamins. It is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. Neither fungi, plants, nor animals (including humans) are capable of producing vitamin B12. Only bacteria and archaea have the enzymes needed for its synthesis. Some plant foods are a natural source of B12 because of bacterial symbiosis. B12 is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin and can be produced industrially only through a bacterial fermentation-synthesis. This synthetic B12 is used to fortify foods and sold as a dietary supplement.
A common synthetic form of the vitamin is cyanocobalamin, produced by chemically modifying bacterial hydroxocobalamin. Because of superior stability and low cost this form is used in many pharmaceuticals and supplements as well as for fortification of foods.
Vitamin B12 was discovered from its relationship to the disease pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disease in which parietal cells of the stomach responsible for secreting intrinsic factor are destroyed; these cells are also responsible for secreting acid in the stomach. Because intrinsic factor is crucial for the normal absorption of B12, its lack in the presence of pernicious anemia causes a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can result in a host of illnesses like anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, poor memory, soreness of the mouth, asthma, vision problems, and a low sperm count. However, vitamin B12 deficiency is rare as the liver stores enough reserves to last a couple of years.
It is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose in the body, thus leading to energy production and a decrease in fatigue and lethargy in the body.
It helps in healthy regulation of the nervous system, reducing depression, stress, and brain shrinkage.
It helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Vitamin B12 also protects against heart disease by curbing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against stroke, and high blood pressure.
It is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It helps in cell reproduction and constant renewal of the skin.
Vitamin B 12 helps protect against cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer.
Vitamin B12 is considered as a part of the treatment for various forms of anemia, such as pernicious anemia and megaloblastic anemia. This vitamin helps to replenish a lacking substance called Intrinsic Factor, which is of great value for maintaining blood normality.
A vitamin B12 deficiency may cause various neurologic and psychiatric disturbances. Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 benefits cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folate, is needed as a major determinant of one-carbon metabolism, which produces the compound called SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). SAM is crucial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation.
Vitamin B12 is needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning, so a vitamin B12 deficiency can result in difficulty focusing and an increased risk for attention disorders.
Vitamin B12 benefits cardiovascular health in several ways, which is important considering the fact that heart disease is currently the number one cause of death worldwide. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. (13) Homocysteine is an amino acid and its levels in the blood are influenced by blood levels of B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 helps to protect against heart disease like a heart attack or stroke by lowering high homocysteine levels in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels. B vitamins are also able to control atherosclerotic diseases, in which someone experiences a dangerous build-up of plaque in the arteries..
A diet rich in food products containing Vitamin B12 is helpful in reducing the level of cholesterol in the human body. Also, this vitamin helps in controlling the level of triglycerides, which maintains the proper functioning of the human heart.
Skin and Hair
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays a major part in cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne blemishes — and can be applied to the skin for psoriasis and eczema. It can also reduce hair breakage and help nails to become stronger.
Vitamin B-12 has been specifically credited for helping to treat and also prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or are worried about coming down with it in your later years, it’s a great idea to start eating more foods that contain ample amounts of this B vitamin. Try not to rely on a multivitamin or synthetic sources, an all natural strategy is best for the body and mind.
Vitamin B12 is effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is accompanied by symptoms like confusion and cognitive degeneration. It has been reported by medical experts that patients suffering from this disease contains lower amounts of Vitamin B12 in their bodies.
Signs of a Vitamin B12 deficiency
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, bleeding gums and mouth sores, nausea, poor appetite and diarrhea. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may present themselves slowly and may not be recognized for some time. A deficiency of B12 can produce pernicious anemia, which can lead to memory loss, confusion and even dementia.
Since we obtain vitamin B12 only from animal foods in our diet, vitamin B12 deficiencies tend to develop among strict vegetarians, especially vegan children, who eat no animal products. However, the elderly, and those who are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from the intestinal tract are also at risk, as well as those who are pregnant or who suffer hemorrhage or intestinal disorders.
people age 14 and older, 2.4 mcg;
for adult and adolescent pregnant females, 2.6 mcg
and for adult and adolescent lactating females, 2.8mcg.
People over 50 years of age should consume vitamin B12-fortified foods, or take a vitamin B12 supplement – 25-100 mcg per day has been used to maintain vitamin B12 levels in older people.