Vitamin B12 is the largest and most complex vitamin molecule and it is also an essential vitamin for normal human growth and development. It is the only vitamin with a mineral element, cobalt, which is why it is called cobalamin.
When B12 is ingested a protein called intrinsic factor binds with the vitamin and is converted to methylcobalamin in the liver which is then used in blood and nerve cells.
The vitamin is quite difficult to metabolize and absorb so adequate B12 consumption is key.
However, there’s an interesting fact about B12: animals don’t make it. At the same time — and many people already are aware of this — neither do plants. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12, providing the animal with it and in turn, making them an indirect source of the vitamin. Likewise with plants. Yes, you heard correctly: contamination. Microorganisms, primarily bacteria and fungi, are the only organisms which can produce vitamin B12. Others use the term “residue bacteria.”
Warning Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Symptoms tend to develop slowly and may not be recognized immediately. As the condition worsens, common symptoms include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Light-headedness and dizziness
- Palpitations and rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance
- Nausea or poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes
If low levels of B12 remain for a long time, the condition also can lead to irreversible damage to nerve cells, which can cause the following symptoms:
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle weakness
- Memory loss
40 Percent of Most People Have A Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Why?
Why then do 40% of people aged 26-83 have B12 levels in the low-normal range? More people are learning that their levels are low, or teetering dangerously close to it.(1)
The answer, which one might have already guessed, is that technological and chemical processes are depleting it.
Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency treatment depends on the cause.
If pernicious anemia or a problem with absorption is the cause, you’ll need to replace vitamin B12, usually by injection, or by prescription.
If the issue is that you don’t eat animal products, you can change your diet or take supplements.
For most people, treatment resolves the problem. But any nerve damage that happened due to the deficiency could be permanent.
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