Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, cyanocobalamin or „red vitamin”, has the largest and most complex chemical structure of all vitamins, and has a particularly important role for the human body. The recommended intake of B12 vitamin helps in developing and maintaining the nervous system, in the production of DNA and in the formation of red blood cells, it stimulates appetite, increases physical and mental performances, prevents the accumulation of fat in the liver and prevents aterosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
Vitamin B12 is the most powerful antianemic factor known until now. Although it is water-soluble, B12 accumulates yet in a certain amount, in liver, kidneys, lungs and spleen. The amount of accumulated vitamin is not important and can not have a toxic effect.
The benefits of vitamin B12
- It plays a decisive role in the proper functioning of the nervous system, helping in the formation of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers, which are essential for transmitting nerve impulses throughout the body. Thanks to this function, vitamin B12 is a precious ally in maintaining the sense acuity of touch and hearing, in the perception of pain, in equilibrium, in enhancing the learning ability, preventing memory loss and keeping the mental health.
- Participates in the process of cell renewal, in the synthesis of DNA, iron, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, folic acid, and in the synthesis of vitamin B15.
- Plays a role in the maturation process of red blood cells, thus removing fatigue and anemia.
- It participates actively in the metabolism of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.
- Helps to maintain the normal functioning of cells, especially those from bone marrow.
- Has a beneficial role on the gastrointestinal tract.
- In addition, this vitamin plays an important role in protecting liver cells, due to its property to prevent fat from depositing inside the liver.
The deficiency of vitamin B12
When our digestive system is unable to absorb this vitamin, a deficiency will appear, and an inadequate diet – usually met among staunch vegetarians, who do not even consume dairy products or eggs, can generate deficiencies of vitamin B12. Also, the elderly people are prone to this kind of deficiency.
Common symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency may include:
- disturbances of the menstrual cycle
- difficulty walking or when you exercise
- myelin sheath damage and dementia
- increased fatigue
- memory loss
- anxiety and irritability
- burning inside the oral cavity
An insufficient quantity of vitamin B12 would allow the release of a substance called homocysteine, which when it exceeds a certain level, it becomes harmful to brain cells.
At the same time, based on its procoagulant property, which pose a threat to artery walls, the homocysteine might also be related to cardiovascular diseases.
The excess of vitamin B12 may increase the risk of developing certain cancer cells in dormant state, and for people diagnosed with cancer, hypervitaminosis may lead to tumor cell expansion and an increased risk of asthma attacks.
The recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 is:
- 0.5 micrograms for infants in the first year of life
- 0.9 μg for children aged between 1-3 years old
- 1.2 μg for children aged between 4-8 years old
- 1.8 μg for children aged between 9-13 years old
- 2.4 micrograms for adolescents aged between 14-18 years old and adults over 19 years old
The best natural sources of vitamin B12
The thiamine is found mainly in animal products such as:
- chicken meat
- dairy products
- fish (tuna, salmon)
For vegetarians, fortified cereals are the perfect choice for breakfast.
Important for babies:
Vitamin B12 is indispensable to baby growth. Pregnant or breastfeeding women needs extra portions of Vitamin B12, just like all other essential nutrients. These nutrients pass into the placenta during pregnancy and contributes to child development. The infants who needs breastfeeding also needs to receive these nutrients.
Their absence can cause major health problems for the children.