Vitamin B12 & the Human Body

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the body. Vitamin B12 describes a few different compounds that function similarly and contain cobalt. These are also called cobalamins. Though there are different forms, not all of them function equally. Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms that are active in the human body. Other forms of Vitamin B12 are not active in the body and the body may not be able to use them.

What Does Vitamin B12 Do

Vitamin B12 is primarily involved in proper blood cell formation. It is closely linked to pernicious and megaloblastic anemias. Increasing Vitamin B12 can increase the amount of red blood cell production and combat anemia. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in neurological function and DNA synthesis.

One of the lesser known qualities of Vitamin B12 is the reduction of homocysteine. Homocysteine is a contributing factor in cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Vitamin B12 significantly reduces the levels of homocysteine in the blood. However, this does not necessarily mean it reduces the risk of cardiovascular events or cognitive decline. In a recent study, participants with low Vitamin B12 levels saw a reduced risk in a cardiovascular event when given Vitamin B12 supplements. Everyone else in the study that had normal levels of Vitamin B12 showed no improvement or decline in their risk level. More research is needed to understand the relationship between Vitamin B12 and cardiovascular events and cognitive decline.

Vitamin B12 has been touted as a cure for just about everything from fatigue to cancer to macular degeneration. Many of these claims rest on either the reduced level of homocysteine or the increased production of red blood cells seen with Vitamin B12 supplements. More research is needed to study these possibilities, but many have already proven to be false with initial studies. However, there has not been any indication that consuming Vitamin B12 will have a negative effect.

How to Get Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is naturally available in some foods, as a dietary supplement, and as a treatment that requires a prescription. The body is only able to absorb so much Vitamin B12 due to the intrinsic factor. The intrinsic factor limits how much Vitamin B12 the body uses. Typically, only 10 mcg can be absorbed from a 500 mcg supplement because of the intrinsic factor.

Vitamin B12 is found in animal products. Clams are especially high in Vitamin B12, as is beef liver. It is also present in trout, salmon, tuna, beef top sirloin, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, and chicken.

When Vitamin B12 is consumed in food, it binds to the proteins in the food and then is released in the gut. When consumed as a dietary supplement, it is delivered as cyanocobalamin and the body must convert it to methylcobalamine or 5- deoxyadenosylcobalamin to be used.

For those that suffer from pernicious anemia or other issues causing the malabsorption of the vitamin, they can get medically prescribed Vitamin B12. This usually comes as an injection or as a nasal gel. This direct supply of the vitamin allows more of it to be absorbed by the patient.

Vitamin B12 and the Population

Most adults and children get enough of Vitamin B12 through their diets in the industrialized world. Individuals that don’t eat meat or animal products, those that have malabsorption issues, those with low stomach acidity, older adults, and some with other conditions may need to take supplements or eat fortified foods to make sure they are getting their daily requirements. The population that may not be getting enough is estimated to be between 1.5% and 15% of adults. Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency are megaloblastic anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, confusion, dementia, and soreness of the mouth or tongue.

The RDA values for Vitamin B12 listed below. More may be needed for women who are pregnant or lactating.

Age

(in years)

RDA

(mcg/day)

0-3 .4-.9
4-13 1.2-1.8
14+ 2.4

 

Because Vitamin B12 is water soluble and the absorption is limited by the intrinsic factor, there is no upper limit to consumption. No harmful effects have been observed by consuming more of the vitamin. However, care should be taken by women that are pregnant or lactating because the effects on the baby of consuming more than 2.8 mcg per day are not known.

Get More Vitamin B12

A recent study showed that participants had higher levels of Vitamin B12 after including Willard’s Water in their diet for 30 days. Willard’s Water helps the body absorb more of Vitamin B12, resulting in higher levels in the serum. By adding a small amount of Willard’s Water to the daily diet, you can get more of the crucial Vitamin B12 in your body without having to resort to supplements. Add Willard’s Water to feel the full benefits of Vitamin B12 in your diet.

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