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Vitamin B 12 | Sources in food | Symptoms of deficit

Vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin, belongs to the vitamin B complex. It is very specific and has its own characteristics that distinguish it from other vitamins in groups of B complex.

Basic features of vitamin B 12

1. Vitamin B 12 can't be synthesized in the human body, it must be taken through food.

2. The only source of vitamin B 12 are foods of animal origin, while foods of plant origin don't contain vitamin B12.

3. Concentrations in the form of a daily requirement for vitamin B-12 are very small compared to other vitamins from B group.

4. Vitamin B 12 has a feature that is deposited in the liver and that the stocks of this vitamin may persist for 3 years. That isn't the case with other B complex vitamins, in which doesn't carry stockpiling.

The only source of vitamin B 12 in food is animal foods, while foods of plant origin do not contain vitamin B12.

5. The absorption of vitamin B 12 is complex and depends on other factors, which isn't the case with other B complex vitamins.

6. Vitamin B 12 is the only one from the group of vitamin B complex  that contains metal - cobalt in its structure.

7. It is sensitive to high temperatures, so that during heating and cooking vit. B12 loses a lot.

8. The structure of vitamin B12 is first determined by Dorothy Hodgkin, which is why, in 1964 awarded with the Nobel Prize.

The absorption of vitamin B 12 is complex and it requires the presence of so-called internal factors secreted by gastric cells in the stomach. 

If internal factors aren't present in sufficient concentrations, which should normally be physiologically case in the elderly over 65 years, then there will be no absorption of vitamin B 12 in the gut even if this vitamin ingested through food. 

The occurrence of the malabsorption of vitamin B 12 is the most common in people who have problems with the stomach and digestion. 

Also, it should mention a bacterium that lives in the stomach - Helicobacter pylori that damages the cells of the gastric mucosa, which produce intrinsic factor necessary for the adoption of vitamin B12.

What are the sources of vitamin B12 in food?

As already mentioned, vitamin B12 is present only in foods of animal origin.

Foods of animal origin that are rich in vitamin B 12 are:

- Beef, lamb and chicken liver
- Chicken Heart
- Beef heart
- Red meat
- Fish, sardines, tuna, cod
- Milk, fresh cheese, cedar cheese, camembert
- Beef, pork
- Eggs

For foods of plant origin, such as seafood, soy products (soy itself doesn't contain vitamin B12) seeds and grains can't be say with confidence that contain vitamin B 12. 

For this reason, risk group for the occurrence of vitamin deficiency of vitamin B 12 are vegans and vegetarians which diet based exclusively on plant foods, without the use of foodstuffs of animal origin.

Health Benefits of Vitamin B 12

- Participates in the production of genetic material

- Participates in all metabolic processes in the body

- A very important role, vitamin B12 has in the nervous system 

- Participates in the formation of red blood cells with iron and folic acid

- Vitamin B12 has impact on the immune system 

- With vitamin B6 and folic acid, vitamin B12 participates in the regulation of the quantity of homocysteine, an amino acid which adversely affects the heart and can cause infarct and arteriosclerosis due to increase in value.

What are the main symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Lack of vitamin B 12 is more connected to the cellular level and metabolic level, instead of taking or not through food. 

Lack of internal factors in the stomach will indirectly affect the impossibility of adopting vitamin B12 in the intestine. 

For vegans, there will be clearly present lack of vitamin B12, which must be compensate with supplements. 

People with HIV are also at risk groups. 

Increased needs for vitamin B 12 have pregnant women and children. 

In cases where the adoption of vitamin B 12 originated from the lack of internal factors in gastric cells, it will leads to pernicious anemia, with symptoms of weakness, pale skin, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, numbness in hands and feet, loss of balance, confusion, memory loss, fatigue. 

In case of pernicious anemia, Vitamin B12 has to be administered intravenously (injection), because oral forms of administration has no satisfactory effect. 

Pernicious anemia can be a serious condition and should be treated professionally.

Symptoms related to the deficiency of vitamin B 12 are:

- Tiredness
- Depression
- Pallor
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Poor memory and concentration
- Tingling of the hands and feet
- Loss of energy and manpower
- Anemia
- Neurological disorders
- Skin sensitization
- Reduced sensitivity to pain in the feet
- Indigestion
- Loss of movement coordination
- Muscle weakness


  1. Would b12 also help people prevent conditions such as dementia and also help people with brain damage?


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