Vitamins & Minerals: Vitamin B 12

Vitamin B12
( cobalamin )

This vitamin is unique in that it helps produce myelin, the protective coating that surrounds delicate tissue ( much like the insulation around electrical wiring ). Vitamin B 12 is the largest and most complex family of the B vitamins. It includes several chemical compounds known as cobalamins. Cyanocobalamin, the stablest form, is the one most likely to be found in supplements. Like other B vitamins B12 is important for converting fats, carbohydrates, and protein into energy, and assisting in the synthesis of red blood cells. Iy is critical for producing the genetic materials RNA and DNA as well as myelin, a fatty substance that forms a protective sheath around nerves.
Unlike other B vitamins, vitamin B12 needs several hours to be absorbed. Excess vitamin B 12 is excreted in urine, even through a backup supply can be stored for several years in the liver. Vitamin B 12 is considered nontoxic, even when taken at several times the RDA.

Vitamin B12 is not produced in plants but is supplied through animal products such as organ meats, fish, eggs, dairy products.
Aids with: depression, fatigue, anemia.
High does of folic acid ( vitamin B 9 ) can decrease levels of B12. Dietary deficiency is uncommon and is usually limited to alcoholics, strict vegetarians, and pregnant or nursing women, who should take supplements. More often, deficiency stems from a inability to absorb the vitamin, a problem that may occur for years before symptoms shows, it tends to effect the elderly, those who have had stomach surgery, or people who have had a disease of malabsorption, as colitis. The signs of deficiency are a sore tongue, weakness, weight loss, body odor, back pains, tingling arms and legs.
Severe deficiency leads to pernicious anemia, causing fatigue, a tendency to bleed, lemon yellow pallor, abdominal pain, stiff arms and legs, irritability, and depression.
Without treatment pernicious anemia can lead to permanent nerve damage and possibly death. The disease can be controlled, not cured, with regular injections of B12.
Lack of calcium, vitamin B6, or iron may also interfere with the normal absorption of vitamin B12.


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