This article was last updated Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Before we get into the benefits of B12 you should consider the following questions.
How is your appetite today? Is it poor? Do you feel weak? Are you feeling like you are loosing or have lost the sense of taste and smell? Are you easily irritable, feel some mild depression with some hallucinations and breathlessness on exertion? Do you feel tingly and numb, or like you have lost some memory, or are getting impotent? If you said "yes" to most of these questions, then you might be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Definition, functions and sources
Vitamin B12, otherwise called cobalamin, is an essential vitamin used in various body process. Its used in the formation of blood cells, nerve sheaths and various proteins. Its also used in metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and is also essential for growth and prevention of some anemia types and neurological disturbances. Its also used in the regeneration of folic acid, and also as a co-enzyme function inthe intermediary metabolism in the cells of the nervous tissue, bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract. These are also among the benefits of B12.
This red, cobalt containing, water soluble vitamin is found in animal protein products, primarily the organ meats (kidney, liver), but also in fish, eggs and dairy products, with its deficiency being more common in vegetarians, children and the elderly. It is naturally synthesized by some bacteria in the intestines, but not in the areas where absorption occurs.
The Beneits of B12 is not altered or affected by heat. However, it slowly loses its activity when exposed to light, oxygen and acid or alkali-containing environments. The reason why it is seen to lose activity during cooking is due to its water solubility nature (it is lost through meat juices or leaching into water) rather than to its destruction.
When taken by mouth, or through prescription only injectable products, it is usually safe. Similarly so, when used on skin for psoriasis, it is safe although a few people have reported itching when they used it together with some specific avocado oils. However, in some people, this vitamin causes diarrhea, itching, blood clots, serious allergic reactions and some other
People with leber's disease, which is a hereditary eye disease, should not take this vitamin. It can severely harm the optic nerve causing blindness for them. People with allergic reactions to cobalt or cobalamin should also avoid it. Pregnant and breast feeding mothers should take it through the mouth only in the recommended quantities of 2.6 mcg per day. Megaloblastic anemia, a condition resulting in abnormal red blood cells, is sometimes corrected by administration of this vitamin on the patient. However, this should only be done under the strict supervision of a qualified medical personnel because of its very serious side effects.
B12 is used for a number of conditions but its effectiveness varies. Among these are treatment and prevention of vitamin b12 deficiency and diseases, and treatment of pernicious anemia. For these two scenarios, it is very effective. It is also likely effective for hyperhomocysteinemia, a condition related to heart disease. This is when it is used together with folic acid and vitamin B6.
Among the benefits of B12 is that it can possibly be effective for preventing age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease. However, it is ineffective for sleeping disorders, preventing another stroke, and improving thinking and memory of people above the age of 65 years when used in combination with folic acid and vitamin b6.
Other conditions and diseases, which people associate or tend to think can be treated with its administration, but for which more research and evidence of efficiency is needed, include eczema, cervical cancer, shaky leg syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, canker sores, lung cancer, breast cancer, aging, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), diabetes, heart disease, preventing re-blockage of blood vessels after heart artery dilation, lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, memory problems, immune system problems, high cholesterol, among others.
Recommended Dietary Allowance
When taken by mouth, the typical general supplemental dose of vitamin b12 is 1-25 micro gram (mcg) per day. Infants between 0-6 months should take in 0.4 mcg. Those between 7-12 months, 0.5 mcg. Children between 1-3 years should take in 0.9 mcg, and those between 4-8 years should take 1.2 mcg. Those between 9-13 years should have 1.8 mcg, while older children and adults should have 2.4 mcg. Pregnant mothers should increase their intake to 2.6 mcg, while lactating mothers should increase it to 2.8 mcg. This is to cover the addition requirements of the foetus and the infant respectively.
Due to the reduced efficiency of absorption of food bound vitamin b12 through the digestive tract for people above 50 yearsof age, it is recommended that they meet the recommended dietary allowance by eating B12 fortified foods or by taking B12 supplements.
When applied to the skin for atopic dermatitis, otherwise called eczema, Regividerm, which is a 0.07% vitamin b12 cream, should be applied twice. For psoriasis, a specific cream which contains avocado oil plus vitamin B12 0.7mg/gram (Regividerm, Regeneratio Pharma AG, Wuppertal, Germany) is applied twice a day for 12 weeks.
Some negative interactions
Absorption of cobalamins is impaired by vitamin B6 deficiency and also by alcohol. There are also, a number of drugs that reduce the absorption of vitamin B12, and supplementation with the affected nutrient may be necessary. These include stomach medication like proton pump inhibitors, and H2 receptor antagonists. There is also the liver medication, cholestyramine. Tuberculostatics, mainly para-aminosalicylic acid and also anti-gout medication, colchicine also reduce its absorption. There are also antibiotics like neomycin and chloramphenicol. Anti-diabetics including oral biguanides metformin and phenformin, potassium chloride medications and also oral contraceptives go in to this list too.
Some anticonvulsants can also alter the metabolism of cobalamins in the cerebrospinal fluid. This may lead to neuropsychic disturbances. These anticonvulsants include phenobarbitone, phenytoin, primidone and ethylphenacemide. Several substituted amide, lactone and lactam analogues of cyanocobalamin compete with binding sites on intrinsic factor and lead to depressed absorption of the vitamin. Anaesthetic also interferes with cobalamin metabolism.
To sum this up, the benefits of B12 are very important to the body.It is important to note that the body stores ample reserves of vitamin B12 in the liver. Should you consider to take supplements, always talk to your doctor first. Let him recommend one for you. Always take your daily portion of animal product proteins to ensure that you get this vitamin regularly, without the necessity of these supplements. Remember that there are many health benefits of b12, but if taken in large doses, may result in the side effects.