Secondary keywords: vitamin b12 supplement, vitamin b12 foods, vitamin b 12 deficiency, vitamin b12 overdose, vitamins vitamin b12 benefits, vitamins vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms
Among its numerous health benefits, vitamin B12 is crucial to the development of red blood cells, nerve cells and for the proper processing of proteins throughout the body. It naturally occurs in certain food sources, and is also available in supplemental form. Vitamin B12 is commonly used in natural remedies and home cures, as it has been effectively proven to assist in a variety of treatments.
Vitamin B12 Nutrition Benefits
Vitamin B12 assists in the synthesis of DNA, aids in the proper development of the myelin sheath that protects the nerve cells, as well as assists with the formation of red blood cells. This vitamin also helps protein complete necessary cycles throughout the body and, without it, amino acids are not made available. When not enough of the vitamin is present in the body, fats and carbohydrates are poorly processed, which can lead to serious health complications.
Vitamin B12 is only effective, however, when vitamin B6 and vitamin E are also present and active in the body to assist with natural absorption and to help it convert to active forms.
Vitamin B12 Health Benefits
Vitamin B12 is known for effectively boosting the body’s natural immune system, as well as helping cure a variety of diseases and conditions. It protects the nervous system and prevents the development of diseases, such as:
- Bell’s palsy
- Heart disease (by controlling high levels of naturally occurring homocysteine)
Other specific health benefits of vitamin B12 are as follows:
- Protects the heart (when taken in tandem with vitamin B6 and folic acid)
- Repairs damaged D
- Assists in cell regeneration
- Assists in heavy metal detoxification
- Protects against some forms of dementia
- Prevents some forms of cancer
- Helps the body produce SAM-e
- Protects the brain from the ravaging effects of hypoglycemia, poor circulation, glutamate, aspartame and nitric oxide
- Assists in the body’s proper use of iron
In natural remedies and home cures, vitamin B12 is often effective in the treatment of:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Epstein-Barr Virus
- Celiac Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Neuromuscular degeneration
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiencies primarily occur when the stomach becomes inflamed or irritated in such a way that normal cell functioning is interrupted. As a result, cells stop producing intrinsic factor (IF), which is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12 from food sources. However, a deficiency may also occur if the stomach does not produce enough stomach acids, which are also necessary in the absorption of the vitamin, as stomach acids helps to release B12 from food proteins. These issues are commonly due to the abuse of antacids and can also be caused by the presence of stomach ulcers.
Vitamin B12 deficiencies are also caused by poor dietary intake, where not enough natural B12 food sources are consumed or when they are improperly absorbed. The following are but a few of the most commonly reported symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Enlarged liver
- Pernicious anemia
- Poor appetite
- Poor memory
- Numbness and/or tingling in the feet
- Poor reflexes
- Pale skin
- Poor blood clotting
- Sore or inflamed tongue
- Menstrual irregularities
- Heart palpitations
- Abnormal gait
- Digestive issues
- Breathing difficulties
Depending upon its severity, a vitamin B12 deficiency may be treated naturally, through rich food sources, or it may be treated with oral supplements or injections.
It should be noted that excessive amounts of folic acid may prevent the detection of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Also, many of the symptoms named above may relate to other diseases and conditions. Therefore, anyone experiencing one of more of these, on a consistent basis, is advised to seek a full medical screening to investigate all possible causes.
Vitamin B12 Food Sources
Neither animals, nor plants make vitamin B12. However, it is produced through microorganisms such as algae, yeasts, bacteria and molds. Humans are able to benefit from vitamin B12 by consuming plant and animal foods that have stored the vitamin after contact with key microorganisms containing B12. In general, animals are believed to store vitamin B12 to a far greater degree than plants.
The following vitamin B12 foods should be consumed regularly in order to assure that regular amounts of the vitamin are consistently present in the body:
- Dairy products
- Beef (including beef liver)
Plant based foods that store vitamin B12 to a lesser degree include:
- Blue-green algae
- Brewer’s yeast
Vegetarians and vegans are cautioned to pay special attention to their vitamin B12 intake due to the possibilities that plant-based foods may or may not be the most reliable sources for the vitamin. While it is believed that humans can store the vitamin for 20 or more years, only plant-based foods that have been exposed to the right microorganisms in the environment, particularly, the soil are likely to provide the vitamin to begin with.
Vitamin B12 Precaution
Certain birth control pills, antibiotics and other prescription drugs may interrupt the effectiveness of vitamin B12.
The following are also known to inhibit its proper absorption:
- Folic acid (in large amounts)
In some people, a vitamin B12 overdose can occur when a vitamin B12 supplement is taken along with high amounts of vitamin C.
Having only been discovered as late as 1948, the benefits of vitamin B12 support its necessity in the human diet. While it can be stored in the body for many years, the body cannot produce it and, therefore, a healthy diet is necessary to make sure that an abundant supply of B12 and other important vitamins are always being replenished. Though natural food sources are best, vegetarians and vegans are strongly urged to consider a vitamin B12 supplement in order to prevent deficiency and associated conditions that may develop as a result.