The human body needs a lot of energy to perform several activities daily. One must think about where this energy comes from. We can say that the human body is a multi-tasking machine that performs various processes and needs a proper healthy diet for good functioning. The human body contains chemical compounds such as water, amino acids, and carbohydrates. But the body needs some nutrients through external sources also. Vitamins and minerals are both important to our health. According to the World Health Organization, these nutrients must come from food. They’re vital for disease prevention, growth, and good health.
There are seven classes of nutrients that enter our body by the food we consume daily out of which one is vitamin B which is a water-soluble vitamin and helps in the production of RBC and cellular metabolism. B12 is essential for the whole nervous system as it is important for our brain functioning and for the movement of fingers and toes, and Keeping blood cells healthy and producing DNA, helps in encouraging antibodies.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 – (Riboflavin) is a water-soluble vitamin used as a food cooling which is different from vitamin K, E, D, and vitamin A which are fat-soluble vitamins. In other words, one can say that vitamin B can be soluble in water while the other will be soluble in fats and oils. Not only vitamin B12 but all vitamin B are water-soluble vitamins, only vitamin K, E, D, and A is fat-soluble. To our amusement, vitamin B12 is a very large and complex molecule or vitamin. Its structure is very hard to understand. It is present as a natural source of meat and meat products and helps to maintain a healthy body, even it helps to synthesize it artificially or in an industry which is done by a process called fermentation of bacteria. Now, that is a whole other story. Like all vitamins, B12 is something we need in our systems, but we can’t make it ourselves, so we need it in our diet. Vitamin B12 is available in four forms: Methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and deoxy adenosylcobalamin are natural forms while cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12. (Vitamin B12 ) Vitamin B12 is very important for red blood cells, which carry oxygen through our bodies. B12 is also necessary for anemia, nerves, myelin Sheath, and neuropathy. It is even noted that it prevents the loss of neurons which improves energy levels and helps in lowering homocysteine levels including the reduction for symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Importance of Vitamin B12:
It is a very crucial vitamin that is needed by the body, especially by the brain, and for the proper functioning and the health of the nerves. Not only this, but it will also help the body in producing RBCs. Vitamin B12 is a well-known name but it is also known as cobalamin.
Each person needs to maintain a particular amount of every vitamin in the body. If the number of levels is very low, then the body’s functioning can go out of control. So, if vitamin B12 levels are low, we can say that the person is suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. It will become a severe condition for the person as it will cause problems with brain functioning, and nerves. What it can cause is something as bad as irreversible neurological symptoms. It is not like this condition is very rare or happens not so often because it can happen to anyone. Thus, everyone should keep track and check on their vitamin requirements to avoid any bad symptoms or severe problems that may arise due to a lack of a particular vitamin or mineral or any other important chemical of the body.
How does B12 affect the brain?
As the most complex and largest vitamin, B12 is essential for our brains. Every single cell in the body is dependent on vitamin B12 for metabolism—for brains that means energy for neurons to communicate. The deficiency can affect the brain of an infant as well as the elderly.
As in the case of infants, the deficiency can lead to negative impacts on the development of the brain during the period which can be linked to the higher risk of depression during adulthood. Even, in addition, the infant may experience other physical symptoms such as abnormal pigmentation, enlarged liver, food refusal, diarrhea, etc.
But in the case of the elderly; According to the research made by the University of Oxford in England, it was seen that around 107 people around the age of 61 to 87 were studied without any neurological problem of which 54% were women. The blood samples were collected and the results state that the people who had higher vitamin B12 levels were six times less experience brain shrinkage as compared to the lower level of the vitamin. Thus, they advise simply adjusting the meal to get more vitamin B12 to prevent brain shrinkage or any neurological problems. Low levels of B12 can double your chances of developing a mood disorder, such as depression. Deficiency can lead to serious complications such as nerve damage and fatigue. As it has a major effect on the production of mood-regulating serotonin.
What amount to take Vitamin B12?
If we have any excess of vitamin B12 in our body, one must not worry as it can get excreted out of the body through urine. It is important for teenagers and young adults people over the age of 14 years should consume around 2.5 micrograms of this vitamin every day. Now, these values change from country to country, area to area, so make sure you talk to your doctor about your daily needs and requirements. A pregnant woman will need a little more than this amount and a lactating woman will require even more than a pregnant woman.
Sources of Vitamin B12:
Most people deficient in B12 are vegetarians or people who consume little to no meat or protein. This is because B12 is naturally produced in animal foods and since people don’t want to consume them, we have to find an alternative.
Vitamin B12 Rich foods are
- Dairy products
- Fortified cereal
- Nutritional Yeast
There are a good number of plant-based foods and options that provide more than enough vitamin B12 and can be used as an alternative, such as:
- Fermented Foods
- Nutritional Yeast
- Leafy Greens
- Fortified foods & cereals
- Non-Dairy Milk
If one’s requirement of vitamin B12 is not fulfilled with the food, then we can prefer taking supplements including multivitamin tablets or Vitamin B12 tablets with the doctor’s advice.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
The deficiency of vitamin B12 is most common in India. According to the report of THE HINDU, it is estimated that 70% of adults and 80% of preschool children have some form of B12 deficiency.
The deficiency of Vitamin B12 creates an interruption in the production of RBC and DNA which is the main reason for anemia and neurological imbalance. The most important cause of this deficiency is not having enough nutrition in the daily diet.
This deficiency can generate some detriments and put adverse effects in the body like:
- Pernicious anemia: In this disease, the body begins to destroy the stomach cells, because of less absorption of vitamin B12.
- Crohn’s disease: This is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract. This whole condition is also the result of vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Pale skin: Skin starts to look pale and slightly yellow because this deficiency creates problems in the production of RBC.
- Weakness and Fatigue: This is the common adverse effect of this deficiency.
- Destroy the nervous system: It can destroy the nervous system and change the way you walk and move.
- Inflammation in the tongue: deficiency of vitamin B12 produces glossitis, in this condition tongue becomes inflamed.
- Blurred vision: Because of the deficiency of B12, a patient cannot see properly.
People who are at risk of a B12 deficiency include
- Ones who’ve had surgery that removes the part of the bowel that absorbs B12
- People on the drug metformin for diabetes
- People following a strict vegan diet
- Even the people taking long-term antacid drugs for heartburn
- Eat more food that includes vitamin B12.
- If you are vegetarian and you have a deficiency, then you must take additional multivitamins or supplements to complete the percentage in the body (advice of doctor is must).
- You can take shots of vitamin B12 which can be either by taking supplements through mouth or through nasal; firstly, it’s the injection then depending on the deficiency it can be converted into diet or vitamin supplements, but the treatment can be lifelong.
For most people, the treatment resolves the problem of deficiency, but in case of nerve damage, it can be permanent.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. Nowadays, vitamin deficiency has become a common thing and it invites a lot more problems. Thus, it must be the priority for us to keep the vitamin and nutrition maintained in the body. If necessary, apart from the change in the diet plan, the person can consult the doctor for treatment.
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