VITAMIN B-12 AND VITAMIN B-12 DEFICIENCY
Vitamin B-12 is a water soluble vitamin which helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. It functions as a methyl donor and works with folic acid in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells and is vitally important in maintaining the health of the insulation sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Vitamin B-12 is also called Cobalamin, as it contains the metal cobalt. During digestion hydrochloric acid in our stomach releases B-12 from proteins in foods. This vitamin B12 then combines with a substance called gastric intrinsic factor (IF). This complex can then be absorbed by the intestinal tract. Vitamin b-12 metabolizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It also assists in the proper functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Though Vitamin B-12 is water-soluble it does not get excreted quickly in the urine, but rather accumulates and gets stored in the liver, kidney and other body tissues. Thus its deficiency may not manifest itself until after 5 or 6 years of a diet supplying inadequate amounts. The most common vitamin B-12 deficiency disease is pernicious anemia characterized by large, immature red blood cells. You may suffer from underlying stomach or intestinal disorder that limits the absorption of vitamin B-12. It is seen that many patients exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s actually suffer from Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Common signs and symptoms associated with Vitamin B-12 deficiency include:
- Anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss
- Neurological problems such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet,
- Difficulty in maintaining balance, Depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory,
- Soreness of the mouth or tongue, Asthma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus,
- diabetic neuropathy and low sperm Counts, In infants it will lead to movement
- disorders, delayed development, and megaloblastic anemia
Anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated by taking folic acid but it cannot correct the nerve damage also caused by B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated.
Vegetarians have to be careful as vegetables and fruits do not provide sufficient vitamin B-12. It has been recorded that mainly strict, long-term vegetarians suffer from its deficiency. The production of the intrinsic factor required to absorb the vitamin from the small intestine also starts to decline rapidly with age. The richest dietary sources of vitamin B12 are liver, especially lamb’s liver, and kidneys. Eggs, cheese and some species of fish also supply small amounts.