What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble ,safe, reliable and inexpensive vitamin. It could be obtained from food sources or taken in the form of supplements orally or by injections.
In combination with other B-group vitamins known as the B Complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9) B12 ensures the necessary life processes of the human body. B12 is important for maintaining a healthy nervous system and DNA production. Vitamin B12 helps to regulate the formation of red blood cells in the body. Other benefits of vitamin B12 include its role in maintaining and increasing energy levels.
What are the Health Benefits
Vitamin B12 is highly beneficial in various forms. Methylcobalamin is the naturally occurring coenzyme form of vitamin B12. It’s a body-friendly version, which means that no metabolic steps are required for its ingestion and it can be used it in its normal form. It is available as a sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue. Hydroxocobalamin is another form of vitamin B12 that has been recognized as an effective cure for cyanide poisoning.
The body uses B12 to convert the amino acid homocysteine to methionine. The main functions of B12 is:
- Protect DNA and RNA
- Support energy
- Protect brain cells and nerve cells
- Stimulate the production of serotonin
- Aid in the formation red blood cells
- Support the bodies immune function
Studies indicate that absorption of Vitamin B12 decreases with an increase in age. Therefore it’s important that adults above fifty increase their daily intake of this vitamin. The recommended intake is a supplement, since elderly people absorb this form better than in food. A supplementation of vitamin B12 aids in the cognitive function and heals neurological impairment in people of advanced age.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Causes and Symptoms
The causes of vitamin B12 deficiency can vary:
- As individuals get older they’re ability to absorb this vitamin decreases.
- Alcoholism and heavy drinking
- Obese people who undergo weight loss surgery to remove a portion of the stomach
- Heavy long term antacid use
Symptoms can also vary and are not limited to:
- muscle weakness
- smooth tongue
- mouth sores
- loss of vision
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended daily intake for adults is 2.4 micrograms. Pregnant women 2.6 micrograms. Lactating women 2.8 micrograms.
This B vitamin is naturally found in animal products and bi-products. Consuming meat, fish and dairy is usually how people get their daily required amount.
However eating animal products like meat and dairy in large quantities can raise your LDL ‘bad’ Cholesterol. Meat and dairy are often high in saturated fat which can contribute to poor health.
Food Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians
For vegans and vegetarians taking a supplement or consuming food that is fortified with vitamin B12 is a great alternative.
Fortified cereals and non dairy milk is a good way to get the recommended daily amount.
Nutritional Yeast is also a great source of multiple B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is low in carbs, a good source for fiber and protein. The nutritional value can vary slightly depending on the brand.
Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor. It’s is often used as a cheese substitute.
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain
4-5 grams fiber , 5-9 grams carbohydrates, 8-9 grams protein
- Thiamine (B1) = 640% DV
- Riboflavin (B2) = 570% DV
- Niacin (B3) = 280% DV
- B6 = 480% DV
- B12 = 130% DV
- Folate = 60% DV
- Zinc = 20% DV
- Magnesium = 6% DV
- Manganese = 6% DV
- Copper = 6% DV
In most cases, this vitamin should be taken in conjunction with a folic acid supplement and a B-Complex vitamin. Although it is vital to get the recommended daily value (DV) of B12, studies have shown there are no negative effects of taking too much of it. In fact deficiency in vitamin B12 is a much greater health concern then having excess amounts.