Why is Vitamin B12 So Important?

Posted at 11:00 - July 17th, 2019 - Megan & Jae - Education Guides

Vitamin B12 is a group of biological nutrients that belong to the Vitamin B Complex family. B12 is similar to hemoglobin in the blood (content is cobalt instead of iron). Until recently, cyanocobalamin is the most prevalent form because it is easier to manufacture and therefore less expensive. But this form is difficult for the body to absorb and only a small amount is able to reach the cells where is it critically needed. The more effective form is methylcobalamin, which is now readily available in health food stores.
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B12 Deficiency Symptoms

  • Bone Loss
  • Digestive Issues
  • Drowsiness
  • Liver Enlargement
  • Hallucinations
  • Tongue Inflammation
  • Labored Breathing
  • Nervousness
  • Pernicious Anemia
  • Spinal-cord Degeneration

Why B12 Deficiency Occurs

Vegetarians:  The primary sources of B12 are animal tissues. Even though B12 can be stored in the body (which is not true of other water-soluble vitamins), many strict vegetarians, over time, will become B12 deficient.

Inefficient Digestion:  Sufficient beneficial bacteria in the colon is required for the synthesis of B12. Recent research indicates that a majority of people do not have adequate levels of good bacteria in their digestive systems due to eating processed foods, consuming alcohol and tobacco, taking prescription medications, a lack of quality sleep and stressful lifestyles.

Inadequate B12: Many B12 supplements use the cyanocobalamin form which is not readily absorbed and must be converted by the body to the methylcobalamin form. B12 supplements are available as the methylcobalamin form which is a more effective way to acquire the vitamin.

Multivitamins do not provide enough B12 and often do not include enough of all the other B vitamins. The best option is to include a B Complex supplement or a multivitamin and assume this provides enough B12. Confusion occurs because all the B vitamins, except Folate and B12, are measured in milligrams (mg). B12 and Folate are are measured in MICROgrams (mcg). When the label indicates 50 or 100 mcg (those numbers are typical amounts for the other B vitamins), it’s easy to assume this is an adequate amount. But current research suggests B12 doses in the range of 5,000 micrograms daily. As a result, consuming only 50 or 100 micrograms results in a B12 deficiency.

Prescription Medications: Some prescription medications may block B12 absorption. Some of the most problematic prescriptions are the antigout and anticoagulant (blood clot prevention) medications. The latter includes coumarins, indandiones, Xa inhibitors, heparins and thrombin inhibitors (check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if any of your medications fall in these categories).

Key Functions of B12

Neurological
B12 has been shown to help prevent or improve neurological diseases including Bell’s Palsy, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Recent studies are indicating positive potential for the use of the methylcobalamin form to help regenerate damaged nerve endings.
 
Cardiovascular
B12 plays a key role in the protein synthesis necessary for healthy cardiovascular function. It participates in helping prevent the buildup of plaque.
 
Brain Support
B12 is required for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter used by the brain for memory, learning and information processing. Insufficient acetylcholine is currently being studied for its role in contributing to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
 
Sources of B12
The largest amounts of B12 are found in meats, (including organ meats such as kidney and liver), eggs, seafood (clams, mackerel) and dairy products. The only vegetables it is found in are sea vegetables such as dulse, kelp, kombu, nori and bladderwrack. Apart from these sources, some B12 may be found in soybeans, brewer’s yeast, bee pollen and the herbs alfalfa and hops.

Authors

Megan is our product curator and store visionary. Personally vetting every product that comes through the door, she evaluates thousands of items each month with a focus on quality ingredients and value. Well-schooled in the supplements department and the editor of our in-store newsletters, she still insists her main job is raising three daughters! (Wichita, Kansas)

 

2019 marks Jae’s 20th year working as a Holistic Nutritionist and Supplement Specialist in the Health Food industry. This environment has afforded the opportunity to discuss health issues and solutions with thousands of customers and clients. Along the way, she has acquired multiple certifications including biogenealogy, environmental biology, holistic nutrition and various healing modalities. She is currently studying to complete a Ph.D in Holistic Nutrition.

All Eureka Market Education Guides are intended for educational purposes only. The guides are NOT intended to substitute for professional medical consultation and as such, do not diagnose, prescribe or offer personal medical advice. Always consult with your health care professional before taking supplements with prescription medications.

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