What are its uses? What are the risks incurred by a Vitamin B12 deficiency?
I have recollections as a child of my grandmother going to see her physician for B12 injections whenever she was tired or depressed. In fact, we have a tendency to develop this particular vitamin deficiency as we get older.
B12 vitamin is essential for the production and repair of all our body’s cells, including red blood cells. A deficiency of this precious vitamin provokes a decrease in the number and volume of red blood cells, which in turn, instigates the following manifestations of anaemia: Fatigue, pale complexion, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, indigestion, heart palpitations and if the deficiency is more acute: Neurological symptoms such as tingling sensations in the extremities, mood swings, memory troubles and dementia. In 2001, Swedish scientists have shed some light on senile dementia by finding in the course of a study that an important number of those individuals afflicted by this symptom were deficient in B12 vitamins and folic acid.
B12 vitamin in synergy with folic acid is significant for regulating homocysteine levels, an amino acid which when produced excessively can provoke cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
B12 vitamin also contributes, along with other B vitamins, to the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, the fuel for our brain and muscles. It was also discovered that B12 vitamin plays an important role in regulating melatonin levels ‘’the sleep hormone’’ and hence affecting our quality of sleep if we have this deficiency.
A question of input and absorption
Those individuals who consume a vegetarian diet and refrain from eating red meat, organ meat or crustaceans are the most at risk for developing this deficiency since it is these foods which contain the highest levels of B12 vitamin. A few foods in our daily diet have been enriched with this vitamin (nutritional yeast, some cereal and soy and rice-based beverages, etc.).
In order to be readily assimilated, B12 vitamins must be joined by the ‘’ gastric intrinsic factor (GIF)‘’, a glycoprotein produced by the parietal cells of the stomach which helps produce chlorhydric acid. These secretions have a tendency to decrease with age and certain medications, notably anti-acids (Losec, Pariet, Pantoloc, Nexium ), birth control medication, Metformime (for diabetics), and Colchicine (for gout) also hinder the absorption of B12 vitamin.
Those suffering from chronic intestinal afflictions or auto-immune disease are also at risk to develop this deficiency.
In light of all the above information, a B12 vitamin supplement in biologically active methylcobalamin form is a common approach to preventative solutions.