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Vitamin B12: An Essential Vitamin with Diverse Functions

By Nicolas Martineau B.Sc. Nutrition

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential B-complex vitamin that plays a vital role in numerous biological processes. Its importance for human health is immense, and a deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to various health problems. In this article, we will explore the importance of vitamin B12, its roles and functions, symptoms of deficiency, groups at risk of deficiency, the necessary daily dosage, as well as the different forms of vitamin B12.

The Importance of Vitamin B12

Considering that our bodies cannot synthesize this vitamin, it is considered essential. In this sense, it is crucial to obtain it through our diet or through the daily intake of a supplement. Vitamin B12 is crucial for several functions of the body, including DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells, the proper functioning of the nervous system, and energy metabolism. Its impact on mental and cognitive health has also been emphasized, with potential links between B12 deficiency and issues such as depression and dementia.

Roles and Functions of Vitamin B12

1.DNA Synthesis: Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA production, playing a crucial role in cell division and growth.

2.Formation of Red Blood Cells: It participates in the maturation of red blood cells, ensuring proper circulatory system function.

3.Nervous System Functioning: B12 is involved in the synthesis of myelin, a substance that surrounds and protects nerves, contributing to the proper functioning of the nervous system.

4.Energy Metabolism: It plays a key role in converting nutrients into energy, contributing to overall metabolism.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause various symptoms, including fatigue, anemia, neurological problems such as tingling in the hands and feet, concentration difficulties, and mood disorders such as depression.

Groups at Risk of B12 Deficiency

Certain groups of people are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency, including:

Vegetarians and Vegans: Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products, exposing vegetarians and vegans to a higher risk of deficiency.

Elderly Individuals: The body's ability to absorb B12 decreases with age, increasing the risk of deficiency in older individuals. Also, certain medications such as antacids and a hypoglycemic like metformin greatly reduce B12 absorption. According to statistics, around 20% of elderly individuals (1 in 5) suffer from B12 deficiency.

People with Digestive Disorders: Some gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease reduce the absorption of vitamin B12.

If you belong to any of these groups, paying particular attention to your B12 intake and being aware of symptoms indicating deficiency is essential.

Daily Necessary Dosage

The recommended daily dosage of vitamin B12 varies depending on age, gender, and other individual factors. In general, adults need about 2.4 micrograms per day. In practice, our bodies do not efficiently absorb vitamin B12. A 2008 study shows that our bodies absorb only 2% of an oral dose of 500mcg. Considering higher doses would, therefore, be prudent, especially in cases of confirmed deficiency or among the elderly. Those with a deficiency need to take larger doses to address their shortage and prevent a rapid return to deficiency.

Can We Store Vitamin B12 in Our Bodies?

Unlike most water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B12 is water-soluble but can be stored in the body. However, vitamin B12 reserves in the body are not infinite (a maximum reserve of 5000mcg, mainly in the liver), and a deficiency can develop if regular intake of this vitamin is not maintained. Vitamin B12 reserves are mainly found in the liver, where they can be stored for several years. This means that even with a temporary reduction in dietary B12 intake, existing reserves can compensate for insufficient dietary intake for some time. However, a deficiency can gradually develop if the intake continues to be insufficient over an extended period.

Can Excess B12 be Eliminated? Is it Dangerous to Consume Large Doses?

Unlike fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A or D, vitamin B12 is generally well-tolerated in terms of excessive storage in the body, and the risks of toxicity related to excessive consumption are very low.

The body can naturally eliminate excess vitamin B12 through the kidneys during urine excretion. This makes vitamin B12 less likely to accumulate at toxic levels in the body compared to some fat-soluble vitamins.

However, although vitamin B12 has a high safety margin, and high doses are generally well-tolerated, it is still recommended to adhere to recommended doses, as excessive amounts can lead to adverse effects in some individuals. For example, extremely high doses of vitamin B12 supplements can cause acne and gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea. To be more specific, a daily dose of up to 5000mcg is well-tolerated.

Different Forms of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 exists in various forms, with the most common being methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and cyanocobalamin. Each form has its characteristics and uses. For instance, methylcobalamin is often used in dietary supplements and is considered an active form of B12, easily absorbed by the body.

Introducing Land Art's New Organic Vitamin B12!

Building on the immense popularity of its organic vitamin range, Land Art continues to innovate and has developed a new certified organic active vitamin B12! Equipped with a convenient and easy-to-use graduated dropper, this new organic vitamin B12 is based on methylcobalamin, one of the active forms of B12, ideal for maximizing the absorption of higher oral doses. Each ml contains 5000mcg of B12, ensuring a quick remedy for your deficiency and stocking up for days when your diet may be less optimal. With a delicious organic cherry flavor and no added sugar, this new extra-strong liquid B12 is sure to please!

In conclusion, vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin with critical roles in various biological processes. A deficiency in B12 can lead to significant health problems, underscoring the importance of a balanced diet or, if necessary, supplementation. Since B12 absorption is not optimal, not only should the intake of supplements be considered, but higher doses, especially in cases of confirmed deficiency, should also be prioritized. At-risk groups should be particularly attentive to their B12 intake, and it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice on nutritional needs.









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