You will be surprised to know how much vitamins do for our body. Each one has its individual role to play in certain body functions. Vitamin B12 is one of the vitamins required by the body to make sure the efficient maintenance of various processes occurs throughout the body. Let’s know all the details of this amazing vitamin:
What is Vitamin B12 and Where it comes from?
An important nutrient needed to maintain the health of nerves and blood cells is vitamin B12. It is the main component of DNA and helps in building this DNA which is the genetic material. This astounding vitamin is also greatly helpful in preventing a type of anemia known as Megaloblastic anemia that causes weakness or tiredness in people suffering from it.
This nutrient called vitamin B12 was first isolated by two chemists Karl Folkers and Alexander Todd from a liver extract in 1948. In 1956, Dorothy Hodgkin formed its structural shape which greatly helped in the development of vitamin B12 supplements on a large scale. This discovery aided significantly in the treatment of pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B12 is called by some other names such as Cobalamin, Cobamine, Complexe vitaminique B, Bedumil, Hydroxocobalamin, Methylcobalamin.
How Does Vitamin B12 Work?
Vitamin B12 gets absorbed in our body in two steps:
- First, when we eat any food, the vitamin B12 present in that food is separated by hydrochloric acid inside the stomach.
- Secondly, after this separation, the stomach makes a protein called intrinsic factor and the vitamin gets attached to this protein so that it could be further absorbed within the body.
If anyone is having a disease called Pernicious Anemia, he/she may face difficulty in absorbing vitamin B12 that is eaten through foods or in the form of any supplement.
Food Sources Of Vitamin B12
Different food products contain different amounts of vitamin B12 and food sources are considered to be the best way to get this vitamin. Here are listed some of the foods that contain vitamin B12 in sufficient amounts:
|Fortified cereal (1C)||6 mcg|
|Liver (3 oz)||70.7 mcg|
|Salmon (3 oz)||4.9 mcg|
|Beef (3 oz)||1.5 mcg|
|Low fat milk (1C)||1.2 mcg|
|Egg (1 large)||0.6 mcg|
|Trout (3 oz)||5.4 mcg|
|Plain yogurt (6 oz)||1.3 mcg|
|Chicken (3 oz)||0.3 mcg|
Nutritional Facts Of Vitamin B 12
The recommended dietary allowances for vitamin B12 are different for different age groups. Have a look at the RDAs for different age groups, measured in micrograms (mcg).
- 0-6 months: 0.4 mcg
- 7- 12 months: 0.5 mcg
- 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
- 4- 8 years: 1.2 mcg
- 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
- Adults (14- 18+ years): 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant women 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding mothers 2.8 mcg
All the above-mentioned RDAs can be obtained from animal sources as plant sources do not naturally contain vitamin B12 unless and until they are fortified with vitamin B12.
Benefits Of Vitamin B12
The benefits mentioned below will give a complete insight into the importance of vitamin B12 in our lives
1. RBC formation and Anemia Prevention
In any normal human being, the shape of RBC is small and round but if anyone has vitamin B12 deficiency, this shape changes and becomes large and oval. Because of this large size and shape, RBC faces difficulty in moving from bone marrow to the bloodstream and this hindrance causes megaloblastic anemia. Thus, anemic patients lack RBC which eventually does not supply enough oxygen to other body organs to perform their functions properly. This proves that vitamin B12 promotes the formation of RBC in the blood and avoids the risk of anemia.
2. Birth Defects
During pregnancy, it is the brain and nervous system of a fetus that requires vitamin B12 from the mother to develop properly. Doctors always recommend mothers to take multi-vitamins since the start of the pregnancy to avoid risks of birth defects like neural tube defects, premature birth, or miscarriage. Several pieces of research have suggested that vitamin B12 is highly important in the preclusion of any defects related to the brain and nervous system in the fetus during pregnancy.
3. Bone Health and Osteoporosis
A study conducted on 2500 people, proved that vitamin B12 can be beneficial for bone health and increases bone mineral density. In the case of vitamin B12 deficiency, bone density becomes less which results in delicate and fragile bones which leads to bone fractures or osteoporosis. Women are most likely to suffer from osteoporosis because of this vitamin scarcity. Thus, we can say that vitamin B12 plays a significant role in our bone health.
4. Macular Degeneration
Several studies have been conducted on the relationship of vitamin B12 and lower risk of getting eye disease because of its deficiency, but this fact is still not clear. Some researchers believed that vitamin B12 greatly eliminates the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin B12 supplements lower the homocysteine levels in the bloodstream as high homocysteine levels are associated with an elevated risk of macular degeneration. A research was carried out including a group of people who were given vitamin B12 supplements on a regular basis for seven years. The results showed that the individuals had 34% lower chances of getting age-related eye disease.
5. Mood Swing And Depression
Although this fact is not completely proven and understood, it is still believed that vitamin B12 largely affects our mood. This vitamin synthesizes and metabolizes serotonin which is responsible for regulating mood swings and eliminating depression. Deficiency of vitamin B12 causes lower serotonin levels which eventually leads to depression. A small study revealed that if a person suffering from depression, takes antidepressants and vitamin B12 together, it greatly improves the mood swings. Another small study also showed that deficiency of this surprising vitamin is directly associated with the risk of severe depression as well as increased chances of recovery from Major Depression Disorder (MDD).
6. Loss of Neurons
Older and aged people, suffer a lot from memory loss and this problem elevates with the passage of time. It is found that deficiency of vitamin B12 in older people tends to increase the risk of memory loss and brain atrophy. Brain Atrophy is the deprivation of neurons from the brain which leads to memory loss or dementia. Many studies have shown that the combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, slows down mental decline or any other brain disorder. But all these researches are vague and more evidence is needed to prove this relationship between vitamin B12 supplements and memory related issues.
The side effects of vitamin B12 include:
- People who have stent surgery should not take vitamin B12 along with folate as it causes further narrowing of blood vessels around the heart.
- Many people are maybe allergic to vitamin B12 or cobalamin and they should immediately stop taking its supplements in case of an allergic reaction.
- Vitamin B12 may lead to blindness if anyone has any hereditary eye diseases as it can seriously damage the optic nerve.
After viewing the above article, it is crystal clear that vitamin B12 is an essential mineral needed by our body to perform a number of body functions properly. Include this important vitamin in your diet and start a journey towards a healthier life.