The lack of vitamins and minerals should not exist as long as our diet is abundant and varied. But the modern life, stressful and with infernal rhythms, with industrialized, denatured, refined foods; without realizing we are falling into numerous deficiencies of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that every healthy organism needs.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the reproduction of cells, especially those of red blood cells. It preserves myelin, protects the nerves and is involved, among other things, in the production of substances that affect the mood and the psyche.
In association with folic acid and vitamin B6, vitamin B12 helps the body reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also has beneficial effects on the nerves and would be capable of preventing different neurological disorders as well as numbness and tingling of the extremities, symptoms usually linked to diabetes. Vitamin B12 could also play a positive role in the treatment of certain types of depression.
Vitamin B12 or also called cobalamin, is the only vitamin in the group that the body stores in large quantities especially in the liver. A low amount of gastric acid or an insufficient production of intrinsic factor, often linked to age, can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12. The lack of this vitamin can take several years to be perceived, since the body has important reserves.
Let’s see how vitamin B12 influences and what it is for.
1) Heart disease and depression.
In most of the cases, the feeding contributes sufficient amounts of this vitamin but in occasions, it can become difficult to assimilate after the 50 years. However, a deficiency, although minimal, increases the risks of cardiovascular problems and depression.
Vitamin B12 affects:
– Prevention of a particular form of anemia.
– Reduction of cardiovascular disease risks.
– Relief of nervous pains, numbness and tingling in the extremities.
– Relief of depression.
Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to discouragement, depression, numbness and tingling in the extremities due to nervous disorders, muscle fatigue, confusion and memory loss. That is why it is important to resort to supplements if it is observed that food can not meet the needs.
2) Neurological and immune diseases.
Low levels of vitamin B12 are often observed in people affected with Alzheimer’s disease, but nothing indicates that this deficiency contributes to the disease or is the result of that. Research shows that an adequate supply of vitamin B12 improves the immune conditions of the elderly and could attenuate the decrease in hearing and tinnitus.
Regardless of all this, it is a nutritional element necessary for the health of the immune system. Some studies suggest that vitamin B12 could delay the lapse between HIV contamination and the development of AIDS, although this still needs further studies.
3) Breast cancer.
Researchers from John Hopkins University in the United States reported that these women who suffered from breast cancer had lower blood levels of vitamin B12 than those who had not. However, another study did not observe any association between vitamin B12 levels and the risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, no reducing effect of a combination of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 was observed in cancer risk. These results have yet to be confirmed.
First symptoms of lack.
– Nervous disorders: pain, tingling, coordination and memory problems.
– Anemia: loss of strength, immune weakness, chronic fatigue and disorders of concentration. Pallor.
– Problems of synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones: psychological disorders, depression and psychosis.
– Digestive problems: constipation, diarrhea, oral and gastrointestinal inflammations. Loss of appetite
– Psycho-emotional disorders: loss of libido, disorders of concentration, irritability, mood swings and nervousness.
The recommended daily dose is 2.4 μg (micro grams).
To prevent anemia linked to the too strict vegetarian diet, the recommended dose is 5 to 10 μg per day. For the elderly, a supplement of 10 to 25 μg per day would be recommended.
Natural sources of vitamin B12.
In food, vitamin B12 is found mainly in products of animal origin, and in particular in crustaceans and viscera. Certain products of vegetable origin contain an important amount like miso or spirulina but it is not certain that under this form it can be absorbed well by the organism. Cereals, food yeast and certain beverages with soy are rich in vitamin B12.
Some of the most important foods are:
– Beef liver.
– Lamb liver.
– Wild pig.
– Camembert cheese.
– Emmental cheese.
Other useful information
An egg and a glass of milk provide the 25% of vitamin B12 needed for an adult, while a portion of fish meat, provide 100%.
Older people who are mildly deficient in vitamin B12 may not take full advantage of the vaccine’s protection against pneumonia.
A study of 30 elderly people showed that they produced, after vaccination, fewer antibodies against the bacteria responsible for pneumonia when their reserves of vitamin B12 were low, something that made them more vulnerable to the disease.
Many older people suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. Age sometimes causes atrophic gastritis that reduces the production of gastric juice as well as intrinsic factor and hence leads to low assimilation. When the vitamin is provided through supplements or fortified foods, it is better absorbed by the body since it does not need gastric acid to be separated from the food proteins.
The level of vitamin B12 decreases in case of ulcer, Crohn’s disease or other gastrointestinal diseases, chronic dyspepsia and gout; with the taking of anti-epileptic drugs or contraceptive pill. Alcohol abuse also reduces absorption.
Risks of severe lack of vitamin B12.
This vitamin is linked to numerous elemental processes of the body and plays a particular role in health. A lack of this essential vitamin can then lead to sometimes very serious consequences. A significant lack can lead to a situation of pernicious anemia that can be fatal if it is not treated. Disorders of mitosis (cell division) can lead to a large number of serious disorders.
Even, disorders of DNA synthesis can lead to many genetic diseases or even cancer. Neurotransition problems can generate chronic fatigue, depression or psychotic states.
If vitamin B12 does not fulfill its function of protecting the nerves, some diseases can appear as Parkinson’s disease, sclerosis in plaques and other neurodegenerative diseases. On the other hand, this type of disorders can lead a person to a state of senile dementia.
The examples that we have just mentioned are typical examples of the immensity of the symptoms that a lack of vitamin B12 can generate in our health. In fact, there are numerous indicators that show a state of vitamin B12 deficiency but it is essential to understand well the fundamental value of this vitamin to understand them.
Groups of risk of vitamin B12.
Certain foods are a good source of vitamin B12, but sometimes the body fails to maintain its optimal level. Some high-risk groups should consider the intake of supplements of this vitamin on a daily basis.
– People 60 years of age or older who do not have enough gastric acid.
– Patients diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.
– Vegetarians and vegans.
– Type II diabetics who use an oral antidiabetic drug such as Metformin may lower their levels of vitamin B12 in the blood, but the clinical consequences of this decrease are not yet clear.
We have learned that we can hardly have vitamin B12 deficiency with the foods that we consume daily, but it is important to know what the symptoms are, the risk groups and the consequences that lack has in our organism.