Vitamin B12 Definition
Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. It is a water-soluble vitamin containing the mineral cobalt. It is the largest form of vitamin in the body.
Vitamin B12 Sources
Cobalamin is only found naturally in animal foods. However, it can be industrially produced through bacterial fermentation synthesis to make fortified foods and supplements.
Foods Rich in Cobalamin
Although different foods have varying concentrations of cobalamin, meat and animal products boast the highest levels. Foods rich in cobalamin include;
- Tuna fish.
- Beef kidney.
- Ground beef.
- Dairy products; milk.
- Chicken breast.
Cobalamin has numerous health and nutritional benefits to the body such as;
Nutritional Benefits of Cobalamin
- It helps with the metabolism process of every cell in the human body.
- Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in brain function and improving memory.
- Cobalamin helps with the production of DNA.
- It helps with the synthesis of fatty acids and energy production.
Health Benefits of cobalamin
- Facilitates the normal functioning of the nervous system.
- Cobalamin may help stabilize mood and reduce depression.
- Vitamin B12 helps in the production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia.
- It helps promote healthy pregnancy and prevent birth defects.
- Cobalamin helps in the formation of strong healthy hair, nails, and skin.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Cobalamin deficiency is highly prevalent. People at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include;
- People who underwent gastrointestinal surgeries or have gastrointestinal disorders.
- Strict vegetarians
- Patients on long term antacid therapy.
Causes of Deficiency
- Insufficient vitamin B12 intake especially by vegans.
- Malabsorption of the small intestine
Effects of Deficiency
- Infants may develop growth problems and face tremors
- It may pose a serious risk of permanent nerve and brain damage
- Untreated cobalamin deficiency may lead to difficulty maintaining balance
- If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a blood disorder called pernicious anemia, which is characterized by;
- shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat
- pale or yellowing skin
Vitamin B-12 deficiency patients have the following symptoms_but not limited to;
- mood changes and depression.
- confusion and memory problems.
- loss of appetite and weight loss.
Treatment of Deficiency
- Severe deficient patients are injected by large doses of cobalamin.
- Vegans are advised to eat foods rich in vitamin B12 and take cobalamin supplements.
- Strict vegans are advised to take nutritional yeast which is a great source of cobalamin.
- In extreme cases, doctors can carry out blood transfusions of the patient.
Vitamin B12 Shots
These are injections prescribed by a doctor that prevent and treat cobalamin deficiency. They mostly contain hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin.
Supplements are used to increase cobalamin levels in the body. Supplements can be taken orally or in a nasal spray. Are available in single-agent or multivitamin tablets they include cyanocobalamin
The Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA) of cobalamin for adults is 2.4 micrograms(mcg) daily. Pregnant women have an RDA of 2.6 mcg per day while children have an RDA of 0.5-1.8mcg.
Side Effects of Cobalamin
Extreme high cobalamin dosage or cobalamin interaction with other medications may result in side effects. Side effects related to cobalamin use can either be less severe or mild. Alleviate effects include;
- Itching and swelling.
- Nervousness and anxiousness.
Severe side effects may include;
- Heart failure.
- Breathing problems and anaphylaxis.
- Fluid building up in the lungs.
- Clots in the arms and legs.
Vitamin B12 Overdose and Toxicity
Cobalamin is rarely toxic. Researches have shown that excessive intake of cobalamin does not have toxic or harmful effects on the human body. Still, it is important to seek your doctors’ advice before taking any medications.
Cobalamin For Vegans
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