Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the development of red blood cells and in producing energy in the body, making it an important component for good health. Unlike most water soluble vitamins that leave your body through urine, vitamin B12′s ability to stay in the liver for years makes it special. It’s readily found in meat, eggs, poultry, shellfish, and milk products, so people who regularly consume those usually don’t have vitamin b12 deficiency issues. Vegans, however, may find themselves coming up short on B12 (also known as cyanocobalamin, because of the presence of the metal ion cobalt), because they don’t eat any of the normal sources. People with pernicious anemia or who have had some forms of stomach or small intestine surgery also can have problems absorbing vitamin B12 through their intestinal tracts.
There’s a long list of vitamin B12 benefits:
- It creates a fatty protective substance called myelin around nerve cells. This causes people with vitamin B12 deficiency to usually have some form of a nerve-system malfunction, such as tingles in the feet, hands and/or tongue, or sharp nerve shocks in the sides of the body.
- It helps to format healthy red blood cells.
- It aids in tissue growth.
- It lowers the homocysteine levels in the body. This amino acid has been linked with a higher risk of developing most of the modern western world’s ailments, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and more.
- It helps replicate DNA, a vital component of any living creature’s body.
- It acts as a natural energizer by boosting metabolism to higher levels. Some people look at it as a weight loss solution, while the truth is that it just makes you more likely to grab a skipping rope or a dumbbell, get active and lose some calories.
If you experience any vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, such as tingling in the limbs,nerve shocks or even depression and memory loss, make sure you get a medical screening. Fortunately, deficiency can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. If you’re found deficient, you may be given a series of vitamin B12 injections or be prescribed intranasal sprays or sublingual tablets.
Ask your doctor to see if you have problems with the “intrinsic factor,” which is one of the most common reasons for having a vitamin B12 deficiency. It resides in the stomach, and is responsible for decomposing B12 into your blood stream. If you are found to have it, vitamin B12 shots might be required, since you will have no other way to incorporate the vitamin into your bloodstream.
You might also be interested in these vitamin-related articles:
- Should You Take Vitamins and Minerals?
- Vitamin A Fact Sheet
- B Vitamins Fact Sheet
- Vitamin C Fact Sheet
- Phytochemicals Fact Sheet
- Drugs That Deplete Vitamins and Minerals
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