Vitamin B12 is one of eight of the B group that play a vital role in our body, it is in fact essential for health protection. It performs various functions such as keeping the nervous system functioning or contributing to the production of red blood cells, those that carry oxygen to the organs, and its lack could lead to anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness and other types of problems, even very serious ones. It is found in products of animal origin, the human body is not able to synthesize this substance on its own, and so it must necessarily take it with food and this is why those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet often lack it. Here's all there is to know about vitamin B12.
What is Vitamin B12 for?
Vitamin B12 is very useful for keeping the body healthy and, since it is not synthesized by the body, it must be taken with food. It intervenes in the formation and growth of red blood cells, working in close contact with the folic acid for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which in turn deal with the creation of white blood cells for the defense of the organism against infected microorganisms. It is a substance that also ensures a correct functioning of the nervous system, since it intervenes in the creation of the myelin sheath that envelops the nerves, and that acts on the metabolism of homocysteine, a process that fights the formation of cholesterol in the blood vessels.
In which foods is vitamin B12 found?
Meat, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products and all foods of animal origin contain high amounts of vitamin B12. The feeds with which the animals are fed are in fact added with this substance. Even some vegetables could contain it, since it is synthesized by bacteria, but by washing the fruit and vegetables before eating it, we eliminate practically every trace. Those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet often do not take enough vitamin B12 and that is why they should focus on specific supplements or at least on fortified foods such as cereals and vegetable milk to reach the daily requirement.
What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?
If you do not take adequate amounts of vitamin B12, a thing that occurs in vegan and vegetarian diets or in the case of absorption difficulties, this could cause damage to the nervous system, anemia and increase in homocysteine levels, an amino acid linked to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. In children, in particular, the lack of this substance could favor the development of megaloblastic or pernicious anemia which in turn causes permanent neurological damage. In adults, however, it takes several years before B12 deficiency causes damage, as the body has the ability to store reserves of it in the liver. However, it is possible to pay attention to some symptoms to understand if you are in danger. Fatigue, weakness, nervousness, memory loss, decreased attention, these are all alarm bells, at which point it will be necessary to do blood tests to understand what the real levels of vitamin B12 are in the body. In the case where a diet without animal products is followed, it is possible to take specific supplements, while if the problem derives from the lack of glycoprotein, useful for the absorption of B12, it is necessary to take specific drugs recommended by the doctor.