Vitamin B12 is one of the eight group B vitamins that are very useful to the body. Amongst the eight vitamins, vitamin B12 stands out as the largest and most complicated in terms of structure. It contains chemically-related compounds otherwise referred to as vitamers that also work as vitamins. Your body obtains vitamin B12 from the food you eat. In particular, such foods as fish, liver, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products contain large amounts of the vitamin. Ultimately, animals must obtain the vitamin from healthy bacteria that reside in sections of their gut. The fact that vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria makes it possible for industrial production of the same. This is usually through bacterial fermentation synthesis. The industrial production of vitamin B1 has made it possible to have supplements of the vitamin, which are available in various forms including pills (multi-vitamins), liquid form, sprays and injection solution. Absorption of vitamin B12 in the body is a very complex process. For it to be absorbed by your body, the digestive protease enzymes in both the intestines and stomach must first process it from proteins ingested after which gastric acid releases it from the food (protein) particles. Although the absorption of vitamin B12 occurs naturally once it has been released from food particles, the absorption can seriously be hindered by various factors. In particular, antacid and acid-blocking medications such as proton-pump inhibitors easily hinder smooth absorption of the vitamin. Elderly people are also known to produce small amounts of stomach acid, which inhibits absorption.
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is very beneficial to your body as given below
- It plays a major role in maintaining normal function of your brain and the whole nervous system.
- It is also very important and necessary in the formation of blood.
- In addition, your body requires the vitamin for smooth metabolism of all body cells.
- Medically, the vitamin is used as medication in the treatment of varied health conditions.
- Apart from being used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency, it is also used to treat cyanide poisoning and brain atrophy (shrinkage) in the elderly, which leads to impaired cognitive function. Brain atrophy is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The fact that vitamin B12 is very necessary for the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system means that its deficiency automatically leads to varied health problems. Its deficiency in your body can cause severe and irreversible damage, with most such damage occurring in the brain and nervous system. When its level in your body is slightly lower than normal, following symptoms occur
- General body fatigue
- Partial memory loss
Severe deficiency will normally lead to symptoms of mania and psychosis. In both cases, deficiency is usually caused by pernicious anemia, a metabolic disorder. Just like with other nutrients, your body requires optimum amount of vitamin B12 on a daily basis. In the same way that deficiency of the same leads to health problems, excess amounts also lead to other health problems. The recommended daily intake of the vitamin for adults is between 2 and 3 ug. This however changes in case you are pregnant or lactating, in which case you need between 2.6 and 2.8 ug. Although the vitamin is extremely low in toxicity, it causes varied health problems in excess. Such include increased blood volume/red blood cells and allergic reactions.