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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) is part of the B vitamin family – all B vitamins support adrenal function, help calm and maintain nervous system as well as strengthen key metabolic processes. Vitamin B12 is especially important for DNA and RNA synthesis, development and maintenance of red blood cells and nerve cells as well as for production of neurotransmitters. Sometimes B12 called “energy vitamin” – it is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system.

Vitamin B12 and health

Nerve system
Deficit of B12 could cause permanent damage of nerve system. On-going long deficit of vitamin B12 can cause severe, irreversible neurologic damages including memory loss, disorientation and lack of concentration sometimes combined with insomnia.

Immune system
Vitamin B12 plays very important role in white blood cell production. It is well known that white blood cells are essential for proper immune system functioning.

Cardio-vascular disease
B complex vitamins (especially B9, B6, B12) help decrease homocysteine levels – it can prevent coronary artery disease and stroke.

Breast cancer
According to scientists vitamin B12 works with folate in the body and it can reduce breast cancer risks. Presently there is no evidence that vitamin B12 alone can reduce the frequency of breast cancer but one study suggests that women who get more folate in their diet have lower risk of breast cancer. Another study suggested that postmenopausal women with B12 deficit had an increased risk for breast cancer.

Male infertility
Some studies suggest that vitamin B12 is able to improve sperm counts and sperm’s ability to swim but more research is needed.

Clinical tests confirm that digestive diseases can create problems for B12 absorption and develop B12 deficiency.

Very specific type of anemia called “pernicious anemia” happens when stomach cells are not able to make intrinsic factor and without intrinsic factor body cannot absorb vitamin B12. Main symptoms of this disease include weakness, pale skin, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, numbness or tingling sensation in the hands and feet, loss of balance, confusion, memory loss, and moodiness

Vitamin B12 deficiency risk groups

  • Adults over 50 – as we are aging, the stomach produces less acid which is the key for B12 absorption;
  • Vegetarians and veggies – plant-based foods (fruits, veggies, beans, soy) are lacking vitamin B12 because this vitamin occurs naturally in animal products;
  • Birth control pills’ users – oral contraceptives create B12 absorption problems because of synthetic estrogen component;
  • Heavy drinking person – regular every day alcohol consumption could create B12 deficiency as B12 is stored in the liver and alcohol consumption can impair liver function and deplete B12 stores or make it harder for the liver to use it;
  • Heartburn drug users and antibiotic users – these drugs suppress the production of stomach acid which is necessary for vit B12 absorption.

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms

Vitamin B12

  • Weakness,
  • Fatigue – shortness of breath,
  • Tingling – numbness – pins and needles in hands and feet,
  • Walking problems – muscle weakness – shaky body movements,
  • Dizziness – brain fog,
  • Impaired thinking,
  • Heart palpitations,
  • Memory loss – confusion – dementia
  • Nervousness – depression – paranoia – hallucinations.

Blood test is the only way to confirm B12 deficiency – CDC defines vitamin B12 deficiency as blood levels less than 200 pg/mL.

Vitamin B12 foods

Animal-derived foods are the best food sources of B12 – dairy products, eggs, beef, beef liver, pock, turkey, oysters, chicken, trout, salmon, shellfish.

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