Cobalamin or Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods. It comes last in the list of vitamin B complexes. Vitamin B12 is needed to form red blood cells and DNA. It can also be added to foods or supplements. It is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells.
Vitamin B12 binds to the protein in the foods we eat. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes unbind vitamin B12 into its free form. From there, vitamin B12 combines with a protein called intrinsic factor so that it can be absorbed further down in the small intestine.
The function of vitamin B12
- It plays a role in the function and development of brain and nerve cells. Thus, cobalamin is good for brain function.
- It helps in the production of red blood cells. Hence, we should maintain the level of this vitamin for the healthy production of red blood cells.
- Vitamin B12 may play a vital role in your bone health. Accordingly, it is beneficial for bone health .
- It plays a vital role in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. Consequently, you can enhance your mood by taking it into your diet.
Deficiency of vitamin B12
- Lack of intrinsic factor
- Inadequate stomach acid or medications that cause decreased stomach acid.
- Intestinal surgeries or digestive disorders that cause malabsorption.
- Megaloblastic anemia—a condition of larger than normal-sized red blood cells and a smaller than normal amount; this occurs because there are not enough vitamin B12 in the diet or poor absorption
- Pernicious anemia—a type of megaloblastic anemia caused by a lack of intrinsic factors so that vitamin B12 is not absorbed
- Fatigue, weakness
- Nerve damage with numbness, tingling in the hands and legs
- Memory loss, confusion
Sources of vitamin B12
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Fortified nutritional yeast
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Enriched soy or rice milk
- Fish, shellfish
- Red meat
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for men and women ages 14 years and older is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg daily, respectively. Therefore, take care of this vitamin level in your body during pregnancy.
vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that can easily maintain your vitamin B12 amount by existing out through urine. It is up to 1000 mcg a day of an oral tablet to treat a deficiency.