What is Vitamin B12 for?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin is an essential vitamin that helps make your DNA and red blood cells. Thus, it is an important source of making your genetic material. Also, it helps you prevent against a type of anemia known as ‘megaloblastic anemia’ in which people grow symptoms like weakness and tiredness.
How it gets absorbed in the Body?
The process is divided into two steps which are as follow:
- Vitamin B12 comes from protein content in the food. First of all, HCl in the stomach separates it from its source.
- Later, it combines with another protein in the stomach, known as the intrinsic factor and only then it can be absorbed by the body.
Daily Dose of Vitamin B12:
Your body does not produce vitamin B12 on its own thus you have to take it from external sources that could either supplement or animal-based foods. Also, you need to take it on regular bases as the body does not store it for long. The daily requirement of vitamin B12 depends upon certain factors that include:
- Physical condition
- Eating habits
- Medicines (if you are taking any)
Thus, the average recommended dose varies mainly with age, such as:
- Infants up to 6 months: 0.4 mcg
- Babies (7-12 months): 0.5 mcg
- Kids (4-8 years): 1.2 mcg
- Children (9-13 years): 1.8 mcg
- Teens: (14-18 years): 2.4 mcg
- Adults: (18 years above): 2.4 mcg (if pregnant 2.6 mcg per day, if breastfeeding 2.8 mcg per day)
Sources of Vitamin B12:
Animal foods are rich sources of vitamin B12 or you may go for other foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. The animal sources include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry.
Common causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
The most likely cases to develop vitamin B12 deficiencies are as follow:
- Atrophic Gastritis (chronic inflammation of the linings of the stomach)
- Pernicious anemia (loss of intrinsic factor that helps to absorb vitamin B12)
- Any infection (bacterial, parasite) or disease (Crohn’s disease, celiac disease) of the small intestine
- Immunity disorders such as Grave’s disease
- A complete vegetarian diet
- Any surgical loss of the part of the stomach
- Acid-reducing medicines
- With age, the absorption reduces as well
Sign and symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to anemia. A mild deficiency may go unnoticeable but if goes untreated, the patient may show some of the below-mentioned symptoms:
- Tiredness and weakness in the body
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of vision
- Mental problems like depression or some behavioral changes
- Nerve problems like numbness or tingling muscles, the problem in walking
How to get rid of the situation?
If you are a patient of pernicious anemia or have problems like absorbing the vitamin properly you may go for high doses or shots of vitamin B12 or its supplements. You can also take it nasally.
Those relying on a vitamin B12 deficient sources should add some animal products to their diet. But if they cannot do so they can start taking vitamin B12 fortified food, supplements, or vitamin B12 injections, or oral doses that are rich in the very vitamin.
Older people which may have a problem like absorbing the vitamin must take vitamin B12 supplements or multivitamins to avoid developing any deficiency.
Any nerve damage that may be due to vitamin B12 loss could be permanent so you better find a cure before developing any serious damage.
You should go and see your doctor let you know if you have enough stores of this vitamin otherwise you may risk your health. And if diagnosed with any deficiency start taking prescribed supplements or multivitamins to make sure of your good health. If any of the above symptoms do not show up it means you are not having any deficiency but if they do, you need not delay taking the supplements.
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