What you need to know about vitamin B12

Feb 28, 2021
By
Cardiologist, Gracie Square Hospital

                                        Where Does VitaminB12 Come From & Other Fun Facts

Regardless on your stance regarding diets, it is impossible to deny that B12 plays an important role in our bodies. But where does this vitamin come from, why is it so important, and how do we get it? Let’s take a deeper dive to learn more about this crucial nutrient.

What is Vitamin B12?

To start, here are some fun facts about vitamin B12 that will help us understand what it is:

·      Within the vitamins, B12 is the biggest and most structurally complex

·      It contains cobalt – B12 is also known as Cobalamin

·      B12 is water soluble

·      There are 4 forms of B12

·      Some bacteria and other single cell organisms called archaea, are the only ones that produce B12

Who would have thought that we are so dependent on microorganisms? This shows us just how connected our bodies are to other processes in nature, even the ones we can’t see without specialized equipment!

Why is Vitamin B12 so Important?

Now that we have some basic facts about B12, we can go into its importance. Our bodies use this vitamin to perform certain critical functions. Here are some examples:

·      DNA synthesis

·      Fatty acid and amino acid metabolism

·      Synthesis of myelin

·      Production cycle o red blood cells in the bone marrow

These functions are critical to keep our:

·      Nervous system functioning

·      Cells healthy

·      Brain working properly

What May Happen if we Experience B12 Deficiency?

Therefore, B12 deficiency can generate a number of symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms a person can experience if they have low levels of B12:

·      Poor memory

·      Depression

·      Pale skin

·      Breathlessness and fatigue

·      Balance problems

There are other symptoms that a person with B12 deficiency might experience. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that if you have one or more of the symptoms above, it is not necessarily due to vitaminB12 deficiency. Make sure you consult with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms before you jump to conclusions.

Where do We Get Vitamin B12 From?

To maintain ideal levels of B12 in our bodies, it is important to understand how we get the vitamin. We know that certain kinds of bacteria and archaea produce it. Those microorganisms that produce vitamin B12are in plants or in the dirt.

Typically, animals like chicken, cows, and pigs, ingest these bacteria with their food. Then, the bacteria proliferate within their intestinal flora and the B12 the produce propagates throughout the animal’s body.

Therefore, animal derived foods are an important source ofB12. The following foods usually contain this crucial vitamin:

·      Eggs

·      Milk

·      Meat – fish, poultry, beef, and others

·      Algae

·      Fermented plant-based foods

Of the above, the most reliable source of this vitamin is meat, especially liver. That is because animals store B12 in their livers. On the other hand, the most unreliable source of the vitamin is algae and plant-based foods.

B12 Supplements

Therefore, doctors recommend that vegans take B12supplements. Fortified foods are also a good source of B12 for people who don’t eat meat. Just remember to consult your doctor to understand what the best source for vitamin B12 is in your particular situation.

Monitor your Situation!

Apart from consulting with your doctor, you should also monitor your situation periodically. Remember to get your annual or semi-annual check ups done on time, especially if you have had deficiencies before.

Now that you know a little more about vitamin B12, you will be able to stay alert regardless of the kind of diet you follow. Spread the word and let those around you know all those surprising facts you now know about the most complex vitamin of them all!

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