Benefits of Vitamin B12 – These days you can find all sorts of supplements that promise to provide you with the amount of vitamins and nutrients you need in order to function properly. We need vitamins so our body can carry out tasks like improving our immune system, for the absorption of other nutrients, etc.
There are 6 vitamin divisions which include vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. One particular vitamin which is vitamin B is further divided into 8 namely: B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, biotin and panthotenic acid. Vitamin B is what is needed for the production of energy in our body.
What is vitamin b12?
Vitamin b12 also known as cobalamin is a water soluble vitamin. This means that it can’t be stored in our body and it is excreted through our urine. Because we can’t store vitamin b12 in our body, we need to constantly replace it every day.
Function of vitamin b12
Vitamin b12 has numerous functions in our body which includes the conversion of stored carbohydrates into glucose so the body can use it as energy source. Probably its most important role is maintaining the normal function of our nervous system.
Other functions of vitamin b12
• Necessary in the development of red blood cells in our body
• Plays an important role in metabolism
• Needed for the absorption of vitamin b9 or folic acid
• Essential in formation of DNA
• Helps in repairing various cells
• Sharpens our memory and is said to treat problems with memory like in Alzheimer’s disease.
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Vitamin b12 deficiency
As what was mentioned in the previous paragraph, vitamin b12 is a water soluble vitamin and is excreted in the body. Hence, if you don’t replace it by eating foods rich in vitamin b12 then you will experience vitamin b12 deficiency. It could also be that your digestive system can’t absorb vitamin b12 so that no matter how much of it you ingest you are still not getting enough amounts.
Pernicious anemia is one condition which can lead to deficiency of vitamin b12. In this condition there is an absence of a protein referred to as the intrinsic factor which is produced in the stomach and is essential in the absorption of vitamin b12.
Those who are strict vegetarians also have high chances of experiencing vitamin b12 deficiency because one can’t get this vitamin from vegetables unlike other vitamins. Animal products like red meat, chicken, fish, turkey, egg, dairy products are the only sources of this vitamin.
Signs and symptoms of vitamin b12 deficiency
A mild problem that one may experience with vitamin b12 deficiency is anemia where one may experience light-headedness. However, if left untreated the problem can become grave and you may experience stomach upset which may lead to weight loss, pale skin, rapid breathing and weakness.
As the problem progresses, it can harm the nerve cells resulting to neurological problems like pricking sensation of the lower and upper extremities, difficulty walking and worst is memory loss or dementia.
It is very important that vitamin b12 deficiency is detected as early as possible and should be treated to prevent permanent injuries to the nervous system.
Most of the time vitamin b12 deficiency is not diagnosed until it becomes moderate or severe because symptoms do not show right away. It just gradually develops and symptoms can be subtle.
There are diagnostic test that needs to be performed in order to confirm vitamin b12 deficiency.
CBC or complete blood count is the most common test performed wherein your red blood cell count is looked into.
Other tests that can be done are vitamin b12 test, folic acid test and homocysteine test.
What you get from vitamin b12
Getting enough dose of vitamin b12 either from your food or supplements can:
1. Boost your energy- in fact athletes take this for added energy to sustain them with their training or during competition.
2. Enhances your immune system making you less prone to infectious diseases.
3. Makes your hair and skin healthy.
4. Improves nerve transmission thus enhancing your memory.
5. It is also believed to decrease the chances of developing cancers like pancreatic cancer.
Solving vitamin b12 deficiency
Changing ones diet by including animal products can significantly increase vitamin b12 in your body. This is especially true with people who consume less or no meat and animal products at all.
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If you suffer from vitamin b12 deficiency anemia, you can take vitamin supplements until such time when the level of this vitamin will reach the normal state. When this happens your body can already produce sufficient amount of red blood cells thus you can recover from anemia. But if the problem is with your intestine wherein it can’t absorb the vitamin, you will need to continuously take the supplement resolve this problem.
Other than taking vitamin supplements there are also other ways in which you can treat vitamin b12 deficiency. You can opt for vitamin b12 nasal spray, b12 patch or b12 shots.
Nasal spray is the latest improvement in which vitamin b12 is administered by spraying through your nose. This area has a lot of small blood vessels thus absorption is rapid however the dosage is higher compared to the injection since only a small amount may reach your bloodstream. This can be done once a week or as directed by your health provide.
With b12 patch, the vitamin is delivered through your skin. This is a solution if you have problems with taking oral supplements or if you are not comfortable with the injectable form.
Lastly, b12 shots are done by a doctor wherein with the use of a needle, vitamin b12 is directly pierced through your skin.
Prior to doing some interventions with your health problems, it is best for you to consult your physician so you can be thoroughly examined and your problem can be identified. He can also discuss to you the various choices that you have in treating vitamin b12 deficiency so you can choose an option that will work with you best. For best results on getting the most out of vitamin b12 consult with your physician.