Interesting facts about vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, belongs to the group of vitamin B complexes.
In order for the body to absorb this vitamin, the intrinsic factor is needed. This is a protein that ensures that the vitamin can be transported through the stomach mucous membranes into the body.
The vitamin is produced by bacteria that are mainly found in animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy products.
Why does the body need vitamin B12?
Many processes in the human body require vitamin B complexes. These include cell division, for example. In this context, the vitamin contributes, among other things, to the formation of red blood cells, which are responsible for supplying the entire body with sufficient oxygen and stimulating the metabolism. The vitamin is also involved in the formation of the nerve cells in the spinal cord and in various protein reactions.
Vitamin B12 dosage – this is how much the body needs daily
How much of the vitamin is needed daily depends on age as well as on circumstances such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. The German Nutrition Society makes the following recommendations for daily intake.
- Infants up to one year of age should consume a maximum of 1.4 µg per day
- For children between 1 and 13 years, the range is between 1.5 and 3.5 µg
- From the age of 19 years, a daily intake of 4 µg is recommended
- In case of pregnancy or during breastfeeding, the intake can be increased up to 5.5 µg.
Methylcobalamin is particularly suitable for children because it is a bioactive form of the vitamin that can be absorbed particularly well by the body.
How does a vitamin B12 deficiency occur?
Anyone who consumes less of the vitamin than the body needs over a long period of time will sooner or later suffer from a deficiency.
The intake of sufficient vitamin B12 in a vegan or even vegetarian diet is usually not possible, which can lead to a deficiency. People who opt for these diets therefore belong to the vitamin B12 risk groups.
Also, if the intrinsic factor in the body is too low, the body cannot absorb enough of the vitamin.
Since the vitamin is released into the body via the stomach mucous membranes, various intestinal diseases can also lead to a deficiency.
Since the body first falls back on the cobalamin stores in the event of a deficiency, a deficiency often only becomes noticeable late, sometimes even after years.
These symptoms indicate a deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms can vary greatly:
- Changes in hair and nail growth and also in the skin are considered the first signs.
- The nerves are also affected. This manifests itself, for example, in a loss of sensitivity, which can even lead to paralysis.
- In addition, the muscles become significantly weaker and less resilient.
- The metabolism slows down, which can become noticeable, for example, in hair loss.
- The body is no longer supplied with enough oxygen, which leads to enormous fatigue and headaches and results in considerable concentration problems.
- Especially in infants, a vitamin B12 deficiency can become very dangerous, as it can lead to developmental disorders. Therefore, pregnant and breastfeeding women also belong to the vitamin B12 risk groups, as they not only have to supply themselves with the vitamin, but also their babies.
The earlier you react to the symptoms, the better you can counteract them. A change in diet with a focus on animal products can work wonders. In the case of a deficiency of vitamin B12 in a vegan diet, special food supplements in the form of vitamin B12 preparations can be used.
What happens if the intake is too high?
If the body’s vitamin B12 level is too high, no negative consequences are normally to be expected. The organism simply removes the portion that is not needed and does not allow it to pass through the stomach mucous membranes. In this way, the body protects itself from the vitamin B12 content becoming too high.
In principle, it is not particularly difficult to provide your body with sufficient vitamin B12, either through your diet or through dietary supplements. This prophylactically excludes a multitude of severe and unpleasant symptoms!
All the best and see you soon, your Biocannovea team!