What is vitamin B12? Benefits, sources & deficiencies

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B12

Vitamin B12 is very significant for our body. It is necessary for nerve tissue function, brain function, and RBC synthesis. Cobalamin is another term for this. A deficit or insufficiency can emerge when vitamin B12 levels fall below the body's requirements. This can cause various symptoms and potentially irreparable brain disorders if left untreated.

Moreover, vitamin b12 may provide numerous health benefits. This article will look at what vitamin B12 is, its benefits, its sources, and how insufficiency occurs in this post.

How does vitamin B12 help you?

Vitamin B12, like all other B vitamins, is a water-soluble vitamin. It can dissolve in water and move through the bloodstream in this way. However, vitamin B12 can be kept in the body for up to four years, and any surfeit or undesired vitamin B12 can be excreted in the urine.

Furthermore, vitamin B12 is the most structurally complex and the most significant vitamin. It is found naturally in animal products like eggs and meats. It can also be produced by bacterial fermentation synthesis. The following are some of the benefits that vitamin b12 offers:

Aids in the formation of RBC and the prevention of anaemia

Vitamin B12 is essential for producing RBC in your body. Low vitamin B12 levels cause red blood cell creation to slow down and hinder healthy growth. Hence, vitamin B12 deficiency causes RBCs to grow bigger, whereas healthy RBCs are small and round.

Megaloblastic anaemia is caused by red blood cells that cannot migrate from the bone marrow into the bloodstream at a standard rate due to their more prominent and irregular structure. When you're anaemic, your body doesn't have enough RBC to carry oxygen to your essential organs. Fatigue and weakness are possible effects.

Prevents birth defects

Vitamin B12 levels should be enough for a healthy pregnancy. Besides, a foetus's brain and nervous system require adequate B12 levels from the mother for optimal development. Furthermore, vitamin B12 deficiency in the first trimester of pregnancy might raise the chance of birth abnormalities, such as neural tube disorders. This type of vitamin deficiency in the mother can also lead to preterm birth or miscarriage.

According to one study, women with vitamin B12 levels below 250 mg/dL were three times more likely than those with appropriate levels to give birth to a child with birth abnormalities. In addition, the risk was five times higher when comparing women with vitamin B12 insufficiency and levels below 150 mg/dL to women with levels above 400 mg/dL.

It may help to prevent osteoporosis and promote bone health

Getting enough vitamin B12 can help your bones stay healthy. A study of almost 2,500 adults found that people who were deficient in vitamin B12 had lower than average bone mineral density.

Over time, bones with low mineral density can become frail and fragile, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. According to other studies, low vitamin B12 levels have also been linked to poor bone health and osteoporosis, particularly in women.

Reduces the possibilities of macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is a vision disorder that mainly affects central vision. Vitamin B12 deficiency may contribute to the development of age-related macular degeneration. In addition, researchers believe that taking vitamin B12 supplements can help decrease homocysteine, an amino acid found in the bloodstream.

Homocysteine levels have been associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. However, supplementing with vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6 may lessen this risk, according to a study including 5,000 women aged 40 and up.

Compared to the placebo group, those who took these supplements for seven years had fewer incidences of macular degeneration. In addition, the probability of developing any form of the disease was reduced by 34%, while the risk of developing more severe forms was reduced by 41%. However, more research is required to completely comprehend vitamin B12's significance in promoting eyesight health and avoiding macular degeneration.

What are the sources of vitamin B12?

Many animal products typically contain vitamin B12. Unless it is supplemented, it rarely exists in plant sources.

Foods sources of vitamin B12

milk
  • Pork

  • Beef

  • Poultry

  • Ham

  • Lamb

  • Yoghurt, cheese, milk

  • Fish

  • Eggs

Additionally, several plant milk and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B12. Even though vitamin B12 can be found in a range of meals, some persons are more susceptible to B12 deficiency.

The following are at a higher risk:

  • older people

  • individuals on strict diets, such as vegan diets

  • persons who have celiac disease or other autoimmune diseases

Who are at risk for deficiencies?

Several groups of people may be more prone. Vegans are in danger of vitamin B12 deficiency since they avoid animal-sourced foods. Also, vegans' deficits can be exacerbated by pregnancy and nursing. It is challenging to acquire enough vitamin B12 from plant sources alone unless a vegetarian diet is well established. Therefore, supplementing B12 is suggested for persons who maintain a vegan diet.

Deficiency is also common in people with pernicious anaemia. Pernicious anaemia is a blood disorder caused by an autoimmune condition. Intrinsic factor, a protein in the abdomen that enables the body to absorb vitamin B12, is deficient in people with this condition.

Individuals with small intestine difficulties, such as those who have had their small intestine surgically shortened, are also at risk. In addition, because the terminal ileum is frequently involved in Crohn's disease, it is a risk factor for vitamin B12 insufficiency. Also, inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis, and celiac disease can limit nutrition absorption, leading to nutrient deficiencies.

Conclusion

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble that often exists in animal products. The average adult necessitates 2.4 mcg each day. Vitamin B12 is also required for appropriate brain and neurological system function and the generation of RBC and other significant processes.

Furthermore, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms like headaches, exhaustion, digestive disorders, nerve damage and cognitive problems. Deficits are more common in some persons, such as the elderly and those who have trouble absorbing nutrients. Vegans might be at risk of insufficiency because their diet lacks various B12 sources.

The majority of people who eat a well-balanced diet have adequate B12. Therefore, doctors may prescribe oral supplements or injections for others.

 

To assess your B12 levels, use our Folate B12 Blood Test.

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