Vitamin B 12 is a crucial vitamin for our health. Do you often feel tired, apathetic and exhausted? Maybe you even suffer from depressive moods? This could be due to a vitamin B 12 deficiency. What our body needs the vitamin for and how you can compensate for a deficiency, you will learn in this article.
Symptoms of vitamin B 12 deficiency
As described above, constant fatigue, listlessness and exhaustion indicate a vitamin B 12 deficiency. But also tensions of the musculature, strange sensations on the skin like tingling, inflammations in the mouth area as well as in the stomach in the form of stomach mucous membrane inflammations as well as other inflammations in the body, which run chronically, can be consequences of a Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
What is the purpose of vitamin B 12 in the body?
B 12 is a coenzyme that is enormously important for the function of various enzymes associated with protein metabolism. Among other things, vitamin B 12 is essential for the breakdown of homocysteine. It also regenerates and forms nerves, so it is important for a healthy and functioning nervous system. Vitamin B 12 continues to play a crucial role in cell division and energy production in our body. Vitamin B 12 is therefore involved in and necessary for all processes in the body. When the body is stressed by inflammation, tension or stressful phases, it consumes more vitamin B 12, among other important substances.
The vitamin B 12 level can be measured in the blood and in the urine. However, these values are imprecise, as the blood value may be fine, but there is still a deficiency in the tissue. The recommended blood levels are between 200 and 1,000 pg/ml, but in reality the patients’ needs are much higher. An adult is recommended to take a minimum dose of 3 to 5 micrograms per day, which is often insufficient in everyday life. Therefore, we recommend that you consult a therapist to find out how much your body actually needs through the intake of vitamin B 12.
How can the body absorb vitamin B 12?
Basically, we take up vitamin B 12 through our diet. The small intestine contains cells that absorb the vitamin. For absorption, however, the intrinsic factor is required, which is formed in the stomach. For example, if you suffer from a chronic intestinal disease or a gluten or lactose intolerance, your intestine is permanently irritated and inflamed. As a result, the intestinal mucosa is no longer properly receptive. Furthermore, the intrinsic factor is not or not sufficiently formed. Thus a lack of vitamin B 12 can occur.
In this context it is also interesting to note that the widespread gastric acid blockers, which are often prescribed by doctors in combination with other drugs to protect the stomach, are a disaster for the entire body system. This is because absorption reduces not only gastric acid, but also various other substances produced in the stomach. Thus the body cannot form the intrinsic factor necessary for the absorption of vitamin B 12.
The different types of vitamin B 12
Hydroxycobalamin is an inactive storage form that must first be activated to allow the vitamin to be absorbed. Adenosylcobalamin has a good affinity with the brain and other organs, but is not suitable for rapid action. Methylcobalamin, on the other hand, has a particularly rapid effect because vitamin B 12 in this form can be absorbed directly by the mucous membranes in the mouth, esophagus and stomach. The recommended daily dose is 500 micrograms. If necessary, a dosage of up to 8000 micrograms can be given for a short time in consultation with a therapist. Vitamin B 12 is generally not dangerous, as it is one of the water-soluble vitamins. If there is an excess in the body, it is simply excreted. All these forms are natural. Cyanocobalamin, a synthetic form, is the least absorbed by the body, but at the same time the most prescribed by doctors for vitamin B 12 deficiency.
In general we can highly recommend the preparations from the company “Sunday Natural”, but there are also many other manufacturers who sell good preparations.
A myth: Only vegetarians and Veganer suffer from Vitamin B 12 deficiency
Irrtum! It is again and again stressed that in meat Vitamin B 12 is contained, however also meat eaters have occasionally large lack symptoms. Moreover, the vitamin B 12 contained in the meat is only present because the farmer mixes it into the animals’ feed as a tablet. It is substituted, the animals absorb it into their metabolism. The meat eaters virtually take up the tablet via a complicated detour.
Can the body produce vitamin B 12 itself?
The answer is yes. Most people produce vitamin B 12 in the large intestine itself, but this is excreted in the stool. Absorption of the vitamin is not possible because the absorption site – the small intestine – is located in front of it. However, we usually get B 12 when we eat “dirty”. This means that if carrots, lettuce, etc. are still a little dirty, we absorb bacteria at the same time, which ensures a better absorption of vitamin B 12 from food.
With the primates it can often be observed that they eat their own stool, for example gorillas. You will also receive various important vitamins. Of course we do not recommend this to a human being.
Another exciting finding: insects have a high proportion of vitamin B 12. To cover your needs, you could theoretically eat a grasshopper 3-4 times a week. There are human cultures that do this, but this is rather unusual in Germany. Nevertheless there is some research on insects as a food source.
We recommend a vitamin B 12 intake of 1000 micrograms three times a week unless you suffer from a proven deficiency. This dose prevents the development of a deficiency.
However, if a deficiency already exists, an increased dose (up to 8000 micrograms) should be taken over a period of about ten to fourteen days. A positive effect, for example in the case of chronic fatigue, can then be seen after just a few days.
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✔ Vitamin B12. Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/. Accessed Aug. 23, 2017.
✔ Fairfield KM. Vitamin supplementation in disease prevention. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 23, 2017.
✔ Schrier SL. Causes and pathophysiology of vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 23, 2017.
✔ Cyanocobalamin. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed Aug. 23, 2017.
✔ Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) oral. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers. http://www.wolterskluwercdi.com/facts-comparisons-online/. Accessed Aug. 23, 2017.
✔ Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15671130/