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Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Benefits and Signs of Deficiency

Benefits and Functions of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin):

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is required for the body to absorb, store and activate folate to its coenzyme forms. It works in conjunction with folate to facilitate replication of cells and to produce red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of all blood cells, including platelets and red blood cells, and white blood cells.

Vitamin B12 functions as a component in a number of cellular processes that create energy from the metabolization of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

It promotes healthy growth and development, the production of critical substances necessary for proper cell function, and for metabolizing nutrients required for normal cell growth. Cobalamin also acts to aid in the production of genetic material, DNA and RNA.

Cobalamin plays an integral role in the processes related to numerous body chemicals and helps the body to utilize amino acids and fatty acids.

Vitamins B12, in conjunction with vitamins B6 and B9 (folic acid), functions to regulate the levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. High blood homocysteine levels are thought increase the risk ofr vascular disease and certain birth defects.

It plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the central nervous system, in supporting healthy nerve function, in keeping nerve cells healthy, and in protecting against certain types of nerve damage. Nerves are encased in a fatty sheath composed of a protein called myelin which shields nerve fibers from each other. Those who suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency display irregular damage to myelin sheaths, which could ultimately result in paralysis, nerve and neurological damage, and even death.


Signs of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Deficiency:

Because vitamin B12 only comes from animal sources, strict vegetarians or vegans who don't consume any animal-based foods are the people most likely to have a deficiency. Those who have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 may also suffer from a deficiency. Cobalamin is absorbed in the intestines and needs a secretion from the stomach called gastric intrinsic factor in order to be effectively absorbed. Those deficient in gastric intrinsic factor absorb much less vitamin B12, and therefore may suffer from a deficiency of it.

General symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can include tiredness, weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, flatulence, reduction in appetite, and menstrual problems.

A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to megloblastic anemia, which illustrates the connection between folate and vitamin B12. Pernicious anemia is a type of megaloblastic anemia that results from insufficient vitamin B12 intake or from deficient secretion of gastric intrinsic factor. The effects of vitamin B12 deficiency are almost identical from the symptoms of a folic acid deficiency. These signs may include pallor of skin, headache, fatigue, syncope, short breath, and palpitations. These symptoms can be totally reversed through vitamin B12 treatment.

Neurological problems can also result from a vitamin B12 deficiency. These problems can include numbness or tingling sensations in the hands and feet, progressive neuropathy, weakness in the legs, and problems walking. Neurologic problems caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency may happen without any hematologic problems (caused by anemia). Depending on the severity of the symptoms, neurologic disorders resulting from a cobalamin deficiency may or may not be able to be reversed through treatment.

Adeficiency of also can disrupt the synthesis of DNA, which can negatively affect normal cellular growth and repair.

In elderly people, vitamin B12 deficiency may result in mental disorientation, memory loss, and a yellowish tint to the skin (jaundice).

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Toxicity, Overdose:

Vitamin B12 is generally safe and is not toixic even when ingested in very large doses through either food or vitamin supplementation.

More Information:

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Overview

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Daily Requirement, Dietary Sources



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