All About Vitamin B12


Vitamin B12 benefits include the regulation of fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism. B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Vitamin bHere we look at known and suspected vitamin B12 benefits, the symptoms of deficiency, and the factors that can contribute to deficiency.

There are many nutrients that the body needs every day in order to function efficiently. Some are essential, meaning that they cannot be created within the human body and must be obtained from food or through supplementation. B12 cannot be made by humans, other animals or plants.

Only bacteria and microorganisms have the necessary enzymes to create B12. Naturally occurring food sources of B12 are limited, when compared to the sources of other essential nutrients. It is found primarily in eggs, milk and dairy products.

The process by which the body absorbs this vitamin from foods is complex and easily sidetracked. Thus, B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms are common in people who do not take supplements or eat fortified foods. Oral supplements enter the body through a different pathway and are more readily absorbed.

B12 Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Some of the early B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms include nervousness, poor appetite, weakness in the legs and general fatigue. These symptoms are usually followed by anemia. Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to anemia because it is needed within the human body for the proper assimilation of iron and for the formation of red blood cells.

In some cases, B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms are not accompanied by anemia, but may be even more serious. One of the vitamin B12 benefits is to insulate and protect nerve and brain cells from damage. Lack of B12 can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, trouble with balance or coordination, difficulty walking and eventually brain damage.

Low levels of B12, B6 and folate are found in persons with high homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels are related to early development of heart and vascular diseases. A chronic shortage of B12 may not lead to obvious B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms, but may increase the risk of developing heart disease in later life. The best insurance is supplementation with B12 and other B complex vitamins.

Substances That Interfere With Absorption of B12

Many substances can interfere with the proper absorption of B12. The list that follows may be incomplete.

Alcohol and tobacco have a canceling effect or increase the need for many nutrients. Excessive alcohol intake can decrease absorption of B12 from the gastrointestinal tract.

Alcoholics often exhibit B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms. Nicotine, from tobacco, also reduces blood levels of B12. The effectiveness of supplementation for smokers has not been studied. The best choice here is to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.

Antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases can reduce absorption of B12 by as much as 55%. Other antibiotics can also interfere with absorption. Most do not present a serious risk, but people taking Chloramphenicol should be monitored regularly for signs of anemia and other B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms.

Colchicine, a drug used primarily to treat certain types of heart disease and gout, but being studied as a possible anti-cancer drug, can inhibit the absorption of B12 and several other nutrients. Blood levels should be monitored in patients using this drug for prolonged periods of time.

Cholestyramine, used to treat high cholesterol and to prevent diarrhea in post surgical Crohn’s patients, can interfere with B12 absorption. Supplementation is suggested.

Pepcid, Zantac and other H2 receptor antagonists, commonly used for the relief of heartburn and acid reflux, interfere with the absorption of B12 from food, but not from dietary supplements.

Prilosec, Prevacid and other proton pump inhibitors have a similar effect. Stomach acid is necessary to release B12 from the protein to which it is bound in food sources. Anything that interferes with stomach acid secretion for a prolonged period can lead to B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms, particularly if the diet is poor, other risk factors are present, or if supplements are not included.

Diabetics have an increased risk for heart disease. Metformin, an anti-diabetic drug, can add to their risk by reducing blood levels of B12 and folic acid and increasing homocysteine levels. Even if B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms are not present, supplementation can reduce the risk of anemia, which has been noted in some cases, as well as lowering the overall risk of heart disease. Calcium supplementation is also recommended for person’s using Metformin.

Anticonvulsants, anti-retroviral drugs, laxatives and even coffee and contraceptives can interfere with absorption of B12. To avoid the risk of B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms and to protect long term health, supplementation is the best solution.

Vitamin B12 Benefits

After reading the B12 vitamin deficiency symptoms, some benefits may be obvious, but the first things that most people will notice after beginning supplementation are increased energy and improved mood. It is easier to concentrate, to focus and to stay awake. It is an anti-stress vitamin, sometimes prescribed for stress reduction.

The known vitamin B12 benefits include the prevention of anemia and maintenance of healthy blood, nerves and brain cells. It is also necessary for healthy metabolism. It is needed to convert food to energy. The possible vitamin B12 benefits may include lower homocysteine levels and a decreased risk of heart disease.

Supplementation is recommended for those suffering from chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s, depression, HIV-AIDS, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, asthma, allergies, bursitis and dry skin. And really for just about anyone.

In order to see the most vitamin B12 benefits, it should be combined with potassium, B6 and vitamin C, which work best when combined with various other nutrients. Manufacturers of the best daily multi nutrient combinations have taken into account which works best with what and have included everything to meet our daily needs.

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