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Is Vitamin B12 Good For Everyone?

By Tyler Woodward

Contents:

What Is Vitamin B12:

Discovery Of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is one of the 8 water-soluble B vitamins and is also known as Cobalamin or Cobalt containing vitamin. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 are are the only B vitamins which can be stored in the body, but B12 can be stored in much higher quantities than the vitamin B9. Vitamin B12 is also produced by the bacteria in our colon, but it’s very poorly absorbed by the body.

Discovery Of Vitamin B12:

The discovery of vitamin B12 occurred in two separate phases and won two separate nobel peace prizes as a result. In the early 1900s scientists Minor and Murphy began looking for a dietary cure to pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a type of anemia that results in an inadequate amount of red blood cells and at the time was a fatal disease. Minor and Murphy discovered that by eating a half pound of beef liver daily people with pernicious anemia were able to survive and “cured” pernicious anemia, as it was no longer a fatal disease. Minor and Murphy would conceive what is now known as liver therapy.

About 20 years later a group of scientists discovered a digestive component involved in pernicious anemia. Those with pernicious anemia were found to lack what became known as ‘the intrinsic factor’, a protein that binds to vitamin B12 in the intestines and allows it to be absorbed. A few years later Vitamin B12 was isolated resulting in the second nobel prize being awarded to the laboratory of Dorothy Hodkin in 1964. 

Functions Of Vitamin B12:

Functions Of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a necessary component in a number of cellular processes including

  • Needed to form red blood cells
  • Required in DNA synthesis
  • Needed to myelinate nerves, so they can properly function and transmit signals at the proper speed
  • Acts as a cofactor for two essential enzymes
  • Energy Production - B12 is necessary for the breakdown of fatty acids and amino acids

Vitamin B12 Deficiency:

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a number of symptoms including:

  • Pernicious Anemia - Not enough red blood cells being formed which can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, muscle weakness, impaired cognitive function, irregular heartbeat, paleness
  • Atrophic Gastritis - Thinning of the stomach lining due to an inability to form adequate amounts of the cells which line the stomach
  • Peripheral Neuropathy - Nerve pain in the peripheral nervous system, likely as a result of an inability to form the myelin sheath
  • Megaloblastic Anemia - A condition in which the red blood cells do not form properly resulting in a decrease in production of red blood cells and potentially shorter lived red blood cells.
    • This can also result in B9 or folate deficiency
  • Improper cognitive function which can result in short term memory loss, confusion, dementia and depression.

Read More: Chocolate Milk ~ The Childhood Drink You Should Never Stop Drinking

Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?:

Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

  • Vegans or Vegetarians
  • Alcoholics
  • People with Crohn's disease or malabsorption disorders
  • People who have had gastric bypass surgery or removal of the end of the small intestine
  • If you have specific kinds of tapeworms or other parasites
  • People with autoimmune diseases like Graves Diseases, Lupus or AIDS
  • Those with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
  • People that do not synthesize enough stomach acid or taking antacids

The average adult stores between 2-5mg of Vitamin B12 in their body and about 50% of this is stored in the liver which can last between 3-4 years. It’s estimated that only .1-.2% of Vitamin B12 stores are used on a daily basis, so you only need to consume between 2-4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily to support your metabolism. 

Due to the body’s ability to store vitamin B12 it can take years for the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency to arise. This is why vegetarians, vegans, or anyone with low dietary intake of B12 can go years without showing any noticeable symptoms of B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 deficiency takes place in 4 steps:

  1. Decrease in hesocolbamin - the active form of vitamin B12 found in the blood
  2. Decline of cobalamin in the cells
  3. Biochemical Deficiency - resulting in decrease rates of DNA synthesis, elevated levels of homocysteine (homocysteina) and methyl malonate in the bood
  4. Clinical Deficiency (anemia) 

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Magnesium

Where Is Vitamin B12 Found?:

Vitamin B12 Foods

Vitamin is found in the highest quantities metabolically active tissues in the body including:

  • Muscle
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Brain

But it’s also found in ample quantities in all muscle meats, eggs, dairy shellfish & fatty fish. By consuming any of these substance on a daily basis you will ensure that you are consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B12 to fuel your body.

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Conclusion:

My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within this subject. I really hope you found this article interesting and if you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach out to me on our facebook groups or on Instagram @tylerwoodward_fit. And please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time… be good

~Tyler Woodward