Vitamin B12

An Introduction

Vitamin B12 is part of the Vitamin B family and is also known by many other names and terminologies. Some of the names are Cobamin, Cobamine, B-12, Cyanocobalamin B12, B Complex Vitamin, Bedumil, Complexe Vitaminique B, Cyanocobalamine, Cobalamin, Cobalamine, etc. However, unlike other members of the family, the chemical structure of Vitamin B12 is much more complex.

Micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria can make Vitamin B12. Plants are unable to make Vitamin B6, and thus, Vitamin B12 is usually found in the animal food material. Thus, food stuffs that contain high levels of Vitamin B12 are:

  • Beef
  • Yogurt
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Shrimp
  • Lamb, etc.

This is the reason why people who don’t include land animal food, fish or even fungi like mushroom in their diet are more prone to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Thus, Vitamin B12 supplements such as Geniux may be required in the diets of people who are vegetarians and exclusively eat only plants and vegetables.

Because of Vitamin B12’s complicated chemical structure, it is more difficult to absorb them in the body as compared to other members of the Vitamin B family. However, keeping this fact in mind it is also interesting to know that the daily intake requirement of Vitamin B12 is a lot less than its other Vitamin B counterparts. One part of Vitamin B12 is required for every thousand parts of other Vitamin B.

Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin as it is the only vitamin that is known to contain the metal cobalt.

The Role of Vitamin B12 in Our Diet

Required In Production of DNA

For the formation of the DNA, which is the fundamental genetic material in humans, Vitamin B12 is extremely essential as it is one of the factors for its production. The deficiency of Vitamin B12 is one of the prime causes of macrocytosis, which is a defect in which the blood cells are produced in abnormally bigger sizes as these fast dividing cells are not able to properly replicate their DNA. This disease also happens to be one of the foremost ways in which doctors are able to detect deficiency of this nutrient in the diet.

Cardiovascular Health

Vitamin B12 is absolutely necessary to maintain the cardiovascular health of a person as it is required in red blood cells production. We know that red blood cells contain a pigment called hemoglobin that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. For the production of hemoglobin, succinylCoA another pigment is required, whose production, in turn, is not possible without Vitamin B12. There is a special kind of anemia called the B12 deficiency anemia, which as the name suggests is caused by the deficiency of Vitamin B12 in the body. However, this kind of anemia is pretty rare among the population.

Also, homocysteine build-up in the cardiovascular system causes many diseases such as the coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. It is also known to cause strokes. Vitamin B12 prevents this homocysteine build-up in the body thereby preventing these ailments. It helps in the smooth conversion of homocysteine to methionine, which stops this build-up.

Nervous System and Brain

Some of the organs that make use of large amounts of aerobic energy are muscles, liver, heart, and the brain. The cell contains a special part called mitochondria which is where aerobic energy is produced, which is nothing but production of energy in the presence of oxygen. By now we already know how Vitamin B12 helps in facilitating the red blood cells to carry oxygen in the blood stream.

To further emphasise the role of Vitamin B12 in the brain and the nervous system, this summarized chain of events should be considered:

Neurotransmitters are Messengers In The Nervous System – An enzyme called methyltransferases is required for the production of neurotransmitters. The production of methyltransferases needs methyl groups- SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) which is a the recycling of molecule simultaneously takes place along with the conversion of homocysteine. The conversion of homocysteine to methionine is brought about by Vitamin B12.

This is the reason that lack of Vitamin B12 in some case also leads to peripheral neuropathies which is a disease in which signals are not received by the distant areas in the body known as the peripheral areas as nerve damage is caused due to the breakdown of insulation sheaths around the nerve fibers. Hands and feet are the body parts that are affected.

Supports Energy Metabolism

This is so because Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of aerobic energy as well as in the citric acid cycle.

More Information on Vitamin B12

The molecule of Vitamin B12 is pretty stable when it comes to cooking and storing. However, boiling of food rich in Vitamin B12 may lead to a loss of about 50 per cent of that nutrient. But the loss of Vitamin B12 from food material is usually between 10 per cent and 50 percent due to some methods of cooking or storing.

Other Reasons for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

There are other reasons too which lead to low levels of this nutrient in the body. They may be as follows:

  • The presence of the ailment pernicious anemia causes mal-absorption in the body which makes absorption of Vitamin B12 in the body a difficult task. This ailment is usually more prevalent in older people; that are people who lie in the age group of fifty years and above.
  • Oral contraceptives may also lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency in the body.
  • It is also to be noted that the body’s need for Vitamin B12 increases when a woman is pregnant or is breast-feeding. Hence the levels of the nutrient that were considered adequate before pregnancy are now considered comparatively low if the same dietary plan is followed.

It would be thus, fair to conclude that though Vitamin B12 is required in extremely small quantities, its importance in the human body is significant as it affects important systems of our body- the nervous and the cardio-vascular systems.