Vitamin B12  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Vitamin B 12 helps regulate your nerve cells’ function and plays an important role in DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation.
- Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body can’t produce internally and must acquire from your diet, supplements like B12 drops, capsules, and injections.
- Now nutritionists and doctors have put the spotlight on Three of the Bs: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.
Till almost 100 years ago, mankind had discovered that eating lemon and citrus fruits cured scurvy but had not been able to either isolate the Vitamin that was deficient (Vitamin C – ascorbic acid) or tell that it was a deficiency (of vitamins) disease.
One of the advances that changed the way we look at vitamins was the discovery that mothers deficient in folate (Folic Acid from the Vitamin B family) is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
This is the Vitamin B family that helps a variety of enzymes do their jobs, ranging from releasing energy from carbohydrates and fat to breaking down amino acids and transporting oxygen and energy-containing nutrients around the body:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate [folic acid])
- B12 (cobalamin)
What is Cobalamin?
Vitamin B₁₂, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body. It is one of eight B vitamins. It is a cofactor in DNA synthesis and in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is naturally found in animal foods. It can also be added to foods or supplements. Vitamin B12 is needed to form red blood cells and DNA. It is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells. Now, scientists are focussing largely on Vitamin B12 that is said to enhance one’s longevity.
Why Vitamin B12 is linked to Healthy Ageing:
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient, important in nerve and blood cell health, and most people obtain enough of it in food. Those with B12 deficiency, or an inability to absorb it, can use supplements.
B12 has a number of benefits for overall health in older adults:
- Better energy levels
- Reduction in fatigue
- Prevention of memory loss
- Reduction in the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Improved mood and reduced depression and anxiety levels
Symptoms that show one is deficient in Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin:
Megaloblastic anaemia—a condition of larger than normal-sized red blood cells and a smaller than normal amount
Pernicious anaemia—caused due to lack of intrinsic factor so that vitamin B12 is not absorbed
Nerve damage with numbness, tingling in the hands and legs
Memory loss, confusion
What food sources of Vitamin B must you consume?
- Fish, shellfish
- Red meat
- Fortified nutritional yeast
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Enriched soy or rice milk, among others
What if one is Vegan?
According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, people who eat a vegan diet are often told to include Brewer’s or nutritional yeast for its B12 content. However, yeast does not naturally contain this vitamin and will only be present if fortified with it. Be aware that certain brands, but not all, contain B12.
But do not self-prescribe or self-medicate as a study proves that very high blood levels of vitamin B12 may be life-threatening.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.