Vitamin B-12

                        Vitamin B-12 keeps you healthy.
The benefits of vitamin B-12 are well known by the medical community. Vitamin B-12 is in our meat, fish and dairy products and contributes greatly to the creation of red blood cells while aiding in maintaining a healthy nervous system. While the origins of vitamin B-12 are relatively unknown, this is what we know. Neither plants or animals are capable of making vitamin B-12. Only bacteria have the enzymes required for its synthesis. The total synthesis of B-12 was reported by Robert Burns Woodward and Albert Eschenmoser in 1972, and remains one of the classic feats of organic synthesis. B-12 keeps energy levels high by helping the body metabolize fat, protein, and carbs. B-12 is responsible for the smooth functioning of several critical body processes. Since vitamin B-12 comes from animal-based food items, people who follow a strict vegetarian diet and do not consume eggs or dairy products might need vitamin B-12 supplements. Purple and green seaweed (nori) are the only naturally rich vegan sources of B-12. Fortified cereals can also be a valuable source of vitamin B-12 for vegetarians. B-12 deficiency is usually comes with symptoms of fatigue. B-12 deficiency symptoms may also include painful tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, and tongue, muscular weakness, difficulty walking, frequent clumsiness, altered sense of taste, burning mouth syndrome, and eye twitching. Strict vegetarians, heavy drinkers and smokers, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and the elderly usually require vitamin B-12 supplements.

Sometimes our body, mainly our digestive system, is not able to absorb this vitamin well. This can happen when a person has anemia, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, bacteria growth in the small intestine, or a parasite. People suffering from these conditions may need vitamin B-12 supplements. One of the many symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency, is memory loss. So if you're having sudden short-term memory problems, then the first thing you should do is take a blood test for vitamin B-12 deficiency. FYI vitamin B-12 deficiency is the leading form of vitamin deficiency, affecting nearly 40% of people between the ages of 26 and 83, according to a Tufts University study on B-12 deficiency. For elderly individuals, the risk of low B-12 levels is 20%. Now if you're over 50, there's a 30% chance that you suffer from atrophic gastritis, a general wearing down of your stomach lining. So, your body doesn't produce enough stomach acids to fully absorb vitamin B-12 and deliver it to the small intestines. These insufficient stomach acids leads to bacterial overgrowth, which interferes with vitamin B-12 absorption. Vitamin B-12 also helps your body protect the nervous system's myelin sheath. Several drugs inhibit the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12, including antibiotics, cancer medications, birth control pills, cholesterol-lowering medications, antacids, and potassium supplements. The recommended daily dose of B-12 varies depending on age and stage of life. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B-12 is:

  • Infants (0 to 6 months): 0.4 micrograms (mcg) per day
  • Infants (7 to 11 months): 0.5 mcg per day
  • Children (ages 1 to 3): 0.9 mcg per day
  • Children (ages 4 to 8): 1.2 mcg per day
  • Children (ages 9 to 13): 1.8 mcg per day
  • Teenagers (ages 14 to 18): 2.4 mcg per day
  • Adults (19 and older): 2.4 mcg per day
  • Pregnant Women (19 and older): 2.6 mcg per day
  • Lactating Women (19 and older): 2.8 mcg per day

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a health disorder that, in the long run, can cause serious neurological damage. So it is very important that it is diagnosed as soon as possible and treated. Often, a person might be suffering from this condition without even knowing it. Lack of sufficient quantities of vitamin B-12 affects nerve tissue. Symptoms of numbness or tingling in the upper or lower extremities are grave warning signs of vitamin B-12 deficiency. At the slightest hint of such an unusual body sensation, consult your physician immediately if you cannot reasonably attribute the problem to any other cause. Mood changes and concentration issues are also a concern. A vitamin B-12 deficiency may decrease the amount of red blood cells, and as a result, your brain might find itself lacking sufficient quantities of oxygen to function at full capacity. Poor levels of oxygen in your brain may affect your mood or induce symptoms such as a dizziness and confusion. Also Vitamin B-12:

  • Is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose in the body, thus leading to energy ,production and a decrease in fatigue and lethargy in the body.
  • It helps in healthy regulation of the nervous system, reducing depression, stress, and brain shrinkage.
  • It helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Vitamin B12 also protects against heart disease by curbing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • It's essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It helps in cell reproduction and constant renewal of the skin.
  • Vitamin B-12 helps protect against cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostrate cancer.

Absorption of vitamin B-12 from food requires an intact and functioning stomach, exocrine pancreas, intrinsic factor, and small bowel. Problems with any one of these organs makes a vitamin B-12 deficiency possible. Studies in normal persons indicated that about 1.5mcg is assimilated when a single dose varying from 5 to 50mcg is administered by mouth. In a similar study Swendseid et al. stated that the average maximum absorption was 1.6mcg. The total amount of vitamin B-12 stored in body is about 2–5 mg in adults. Around 50% of this is stored in the liver. Vitamin B-12 is in many processed foods, and is also available in vitamin pill form, including multi-vitamins. Vitamin B-12 can be supplemented in healthy subjects also by liquid, trans-dermal patch, nasal spray, or injection and is available singly or in combination with other supplements. Dibencozide is a supplement form of vitamin B-12. Some people use it as medicine. Wether it's taken by mouth or placed under the tongue, dibencozide is used to help the body process protein, increase muscle mass and strength, improve mental concentration; and to treat depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. It is a common ingredient in energy drinks and energy shots, usually at several times the minimum recommended daily allowance of B-12 which is usually ok because the absorption rate is so low. According to Wikipedia,Vitamin B-12 has extremely low toxicity and even taking it in enormous doses appears not to be harmful to healthy individuals. Direct allergy to a vitamin or nutrient is extremely rare, and if reported, other causes should be sought. So if you are exhibiting some of the symptoms of deficiency or don't get enough in your diet, consider a doctor visit for a test and perhaps supplementation. Good Luck...

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