Vitamin B12 - Everything You Need To Know About

Did you know that a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to problems with thinking and creativity? It’s true! Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells, and it also helps to keep the brain functioning properly. A deficiency in this nutrient can cause problems with memory, concentration, and creativity.

Studies show an increasing prevalence of Vitamin B12 deficiency in individuals belonging to a lower socioeconomic class and the female gender compared to individuals from the upper socioeconomic classes and male gender. Moreover, at least 6% of the population younger than 60 years in the United Kingdom is found to have Vitamin B12 deficiency, while the rate is much higher in those over 60 years.

This article explores the importance of Vitamin B12, its unique roles in the body, and the causes and treatment for its deficiency.

Vitamin B12 - Everything You Need To Know About

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin essential for keeping the body’s nervous system and red blood cells healthy. It can be found in animal products like meat, fish, dairy, and fortified foods such as cereals and some plant-based milk. While most people get enough vitamin B12 from their diet, some people are at risk for deficiency and should take steps to ensure they’re getting enough of this vital nutrient. Inadequate intake of Vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia, among numerous other health conditions. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are getting enough of this nutrient in your diet. Vitamin B12 is available in supplement form, and it can also be injected. If you are considering taking a supplement, talk to your doctor first to see if it’s right for you.

What is The Role of Vitamin B12 in the Body?

Oral cobalamin is absorbed through the intestines, even when there isn’t an adequate amount of intrinsic factor. Studies show almost 12% of cobalamin is absorbed passively in the blood, without the assistance of intrinsic factors - if a high dose of the vitamin is administered orally. However, adequate levels of an intrinsic factor are generally required for sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 to be absorbed into the blood.

On the other hand, when this vitamin is given through injections, it does not require the help of the intrinsic factor to be absorbed as it reaches the blood directly. Eggs are an excellent source of cobalamin because they contain two kinds of protein that bind with the cobalamin and transport it through the tissue so it can be used for energy production in other cells. For this reason, eggs are important for cell growth and neurological function.

When it reaches the blood, it becomes a cofactor for the vital enzyme reactions. These include the Methionine Synthase and Methyl Malonyl Coenzyme A Mutase. By acting as a cofactor in converting homocysteine to methionine, it eventually promotes DNA synthesis in the cells. It does this by facilitating the production of phospholipids, neurotransmitters, and gene expression, which are required for DNA synthesis. The other role of Vitamin B12 as a cofactor is the facilitate the conversion of Methyl Malonyl CoA to Succinyl CoA. This process is essential for the metabolism of branch chain amino acids and old fatty acids in the body.

How Can Vitamin B12 Be Taken?

Vitamin B12 can be taken in supplement form, or it can be taken as a shot. Vitamin B12 shots are usually given intramuscularly. Vitamin B12 supplements come in pill form and are taken orally. The recommended dose of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day for adults over the age of 18.

In an individual presents with a higher level of Vitamin B12 deficiency, intramuscular injections of Vitamin B12 may be more suited for them than taking its supplements orally. However, if the deficiency is not as severe and there are no prominent symptoms associated with the deficiency, they may opt for oral supplements or increased consumption of Vitamin B12-rich foods. If the doctor recommends Vitamin B12 injections, they may be administered at a dose of 1 mg every day for a week. This is followed by administering the injections once a week for the next month.

Although two other proposed routes for vitamin b12 administration include the Sublanguage and nasal routes, their effectiveness is still under investigation.

The Benefits of Vitamin B12 intake

The main benefits of regular intake of Vitamin B12 include:

Prevention of anemia.
Improving mood.
The elevation of energy levels.
Promotion of healthier skin and nails.

Vitamin B12 for the Prevention of Anemia and Tissue Fatigue

Regular intake of Vitamin B12 has an essential benefit of keeping the individual protected from anaemia. This is because this vitamin helps in blood cell formation and maintenance. The healthy red blood cells are usually round in shape, but an individual with a deficiency of Vitamin B12 may resent enlarged and irregular-shaped cells. This hinders their transport through the vessels and prevents adequate oxygenation of all the body tissues. Hence, regular Vitamin B12 intake allows for better oxygenation of tissues and prevents fatigue.

Vitamin B12 for Mental Health

Studies have found individuals with a negative mood and mental health disorders like depression to have higher homocysteine levels in their blood. Since one of the roles of vitamin B12 in the body, as mentioned above, is the conversion of homocysteine, it can lower its levels in the body. These lower levels are proposed to be associated with an elevated mood and improvement in symptoms of depression.

The effectiveness of Vitamin B12 for depression was also found in a study where individuals who were given Vitamin B12 with an antidepressant had superior results as compared to individuals who took an antidepressant alone.

Vitamin B12 for Staying Active

Individuals with vitamin b 12 deficiencies commonly report low energy levels and fatigue. This is because this vitamin plays an essential role in energy production in the cells. When Vitamin B12 is not being consumed in the recommended dosages, it can lead to limited energy production in the cells and deterioration of overall health. Studies have found that individuals who consume Vitamin B12 regularly have higher energy levels than those who do not.

Vitamin B12 for Healthier Hair Skin and Nails

Given the importance of this vitamin for hair, skin, and nails, it is vital to get an adequate amount of B12 in order to maintain a healthy appearance. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to discolouration of skin, nails, hair, and mouth corners.

A study has shown that adding vitamin B12 to people’s skincare regimen with a deficiency in this vitamin will improve their dermatological symptoms. Patients in one study showed a decrease in dryness, scaling, erythema, and improved elasticity.

What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency may be caused by factors like autoimmune conditions, malabsorption of the vitamin in the gut, and dietary insufficiency.

Autoimmune Conditions: Autoimmune conditions like Pernicious Anemia cause the body’s antibodies to attack the intrinsic factor. Since the intrinsic factor is required to absorb Vitamin B12 in the terminal ileum, a lack of this can prevent its absorption into the blood.

Malabsorption of B12: Malabsorption of Vitamin B12 is most commonly facilitated by alterations in the digestive tract cells. An example of this is an individual undergoing gastric bypass surgery, where the new alimentary canal bypasses the site of parietal cells in the stomach, which are responsible for the intrinsic factor production.

Insufficient Dietary Intake: The most common reason for Vitamin B12 deficiency amongst the vast population of United Kingdom is a diet that lacks adequate vitamin B12 levels. This is commonly seen in individuals who opt for vegan diets and avoid intake of vitamin B12-rich foods like Beef, Liver, Fish, and Eggs.

How is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treated?

History, examination, and thorough assessment are generally required before prescribing an individual Vitamin B12 supplements or injections to treat deficiency. A person may be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency if they have macrocytic anaemia, discernible neurological symptoms, and other presenting complaints. Medical history, including Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, will show signs of B12 deficiency.

If a patient has had surgery such as a gastrectomy or bowel resection, and the ileum was removed, B12 deficiency is high on the suspicion list. In addition, someone who has recently switched to a vegan diet may be at risk for B12 deficiency. In cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, replenishment is needed. If a patient has a deficiency in intrinsic factors, B12 should be given via injection once a month. Prior to the first injection, an intramuscular dose of 1000 mcg is given to replenish stores.

The Bottom Line

If you or a loved one of your is experiencing any of the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency mentioned above, it is always advised to seek immediate medical assistance or full check up blood test. The majority of the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency may be reversed by using a vitamin B12 injection, which may be administered under the supervision of a health professional. You can get our Vitamin B12 injections for a low price of only £40 to help kick start your health journey today!

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