VITAMIN B12: Benefits, Side Effects And Dosage – Overview
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is a very significant nutrient for the human body. It plays a vital role in producing Red Blood Cells (RBCs). Also, it is required by the body for nerve tissues and brain functioning. It also helps to make DNA in cells.
It’s a water-soluble vitamin. So, any excess of Vitamin B12 will be thrown out by the body through the urinary tract. The human body is capable of storing Vitamin B12 for up to 4 years in the liver.
It is highly essential for DNA synthesis. There are various sources of Vitamin B12 available in the food range.
Apart from this, the B12 supplements are also available in eatable forms. To keep the nervous system healthy, an ideal production of RBCs in the body; the body must absorb the ample amount of Vitamin B12.
Let’s have a sight at the functions, causes, symptoms & signs of deficiency, the standard dietary intake, and the foods rich in it.
Firstly, let me start with the functions of it.
FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN B12
Vitamin B12 plays a very significant role in the functioning of the body. Some of the main functions are:
I. It converts homocysteine to methionine.
II. It acts as a cofactor for the synthesis of DNA.
III. It is necessary for the body for the myelination of the nerves.
IV. It is also a vital nutrient for the RBC’s formation.
V. It prevents some form of anemia and neurological disturbances.
Apart from this, it also works as an enzyme in the body.
BENEFITS OF VITAMIN B12
One should make sure to add a proper amount of Vitamin B12 in their diet as it is a vital nutrient for the body, and the body cannot produce it on its own.
It has many health benefits on human health as per science. Some of them are:
Red Blood Cells Formation and Prevention of Anemia
It helps in RBC’s formation. If the VB12 levels are too low in the body, the RBC’s production gets altered, which causes megaloblastic anemia. And when the body does not have enough RBCs for oxygen transportation, you may experience fatigue and weakness.
Prevents Birth Defects
Various studies have shown that the brain and nervous system of a fetus require sufficient B12 levels in the mother’s body for proper development. B12 is important for the prevention of spinal cord and brain birth defects.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
As it plays a vital role in the bones’ health, the good level of Vitamin B12 in the blood reduces the risk of Osteoporosis.
Reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration
Adequate levels of VitaminB12 in the blood helps in reducing the risk of age-related Macular Degeneration (An eye disease that affects central vision).
Vitamin B12 helps in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin, which is a chemical in the body that is responsible for regulating the mood.
Improves Heart Health
It helps in improving heart health by reducing Homocysteine**. According to science, it’s correct. However, there is no scientific evidence available supporting the same.
Promotes Healthy Hair and Skin
Having enough level of Vitamin B12 in the body helps in improving the quality of hair, skin, and nails. But, if one is having a sufficient level of this nutrient in the body, taking supplements of the same will not show any such effect.
Also, if you would like to know about the importance of Vitamin E, just Click Here
DEFICIENCY OF VITAMIN B12
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY: If there is any deficiency of Vitamin B12 in your body, it can be analyzed with the below-mentioned symptoms:
- Weakness or Fatigue
- Palpitations or Irregular Heartbeat
- Poor Appetite
- Yellowish Skin
- Breath Shortness
- Sore Tongue
- Numbness in hands and foot
- Weight Loss
CAUSES OF DEFICIENCY:
The deficiency of Vitamin B12 might be dietary or may occur due to some medications or health conditions.
Dietary Deficiency: Those who are vegetarians and even avoids dairy products can face the deficiency of Vitamin B12 due to its absence in their diet. As meat and dairy products are the rich sources of Vitamin B12, avoiding these in the diet can result in a deficiency of this nutrient.
Medications: There are some medications like Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), which can lead to unabsorption of Vitamin B12 by the body.
Pernicious Anaemia: It is a condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells which produce the intrinsic factor, which is required by the body to absorb Vitamin B12 from the food intake.
EFFECTS OF DEFICIENCY:
The Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to various health issues. Some of them are:
The Deficiency of Vitamin B12 results in less production of Red Blood Cells (RBCs), without enough hemoglobin. It is known as anemia. With this health issue, the human body system can’t transport enough oxygen to other parts of the body.
Nervous System Disorders:
Vitamin B12 is a very essential nutrient for a healthy nervous system. Its deficiency can lead to mental confusion, depression, poor memory, or it can also result in dementia in later stages.
Neural Tube Defects:
If a woman is deficient in Vitamin B12 in her first trimester, there are high chances of Neural Tube Defects (NTD) in the child. Also, it can lead to preterm delivery in some cases.
WHO ARE AT MORE RISK?
Anyone who is ignoring the food sources which are rich in Vitamin B12 can face a deficiency. But, some categories are at a higher risk of facing it.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding have a high chance of facing it unless they are having a proper dietary intake. The people who are suffering from any gastrointestinal disorder are also at a higher risk.
Apart from this, the individuals who are above the age of 50 years also have a high risk, because the body might reduce or stop the production of hydrochloric acid in enough quantity in the later stages of life.
Hydrochloric acid is a much-needed substance required by the body to absorb Vitamin B12 from the dietary intake. If the body is unable to produce enough amounts of it, this nutrient will not be absorbed by the body at all, which will cause a deficiency in the body.
FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN B12
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient for the human body. The body is not able to make it on its own, so it absorbs this nutrient from the foods that we take.
There are various foods available that are naturally rich in it.
- Organ Meats (Lamb, Liver, and Kidney)
- Fortified Cereals
- Sardines Fish
- Clams Shellfish
- Tuna Fish
- Trout Fish
- Salmon Fillet
- Milk and Dairy Products like yogurt, cheese, whole milk supplies
Various studies say that Vitamin B12 is much easily absorbed by the body from milk and dairy products in comparison to meat, beef, trout, etc.
Apart from this, there are various supplements available in the market to overcome the deficiency.
Now when we know the importance and functions of Vitamin B12, we should also be aware of how much quantity we shall consume in each diet.
So, let’s take a look at the recommended daily intake:
Older children and adults (14+ years) – 2.4 mcg
Pregnant women – 2.6 mcg
Breastfeeding women – 2.8 mcg
For Age groups below 14 years:
0-6 months – 0.4 mcg
7-12 months- 0.5 mcg
Children of 1-3 years of age – 0.9 mcg
The age group of 4-8 years – 1.2 mcg
The age group of 9-13 years – 1.8 mcg
SIDE EFFECTS OF OVERDOSE:
What if someone has taken supplements in a high dose?
Well, there are various side effects of over-consumption. Some of them are:
This information is a piece of general advice and based on many research papers and articles. It is not at all advised to take it as medical advice. Any mentioned supplement or food sources are not a part of medical advice or suggestion.
It is suggested to consult the medical professionals about dietary supplements, intake, body requirements, etc.
**HOMOCYSTEINE is a type of amino acid that is associated with an increase in the risk of heart’s health.