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What's So Good About Vitamin B12

Aug 17, 2007
People are often asking what so good about this vitamin and is this vitamin often causing deficiency. In fact, its deficiency is most common in a vegetable diet.

Why is that so?

Among all products, the most readily available sources in animal products, which is in meat stuff. The causes of such deficiency can be avoided by supplementing daily with Vitamin B12 pills. Even when you believe you maintain a carefully balanced vegetarian diet, Vitamin B12 is the one to watch.

There are lots of people asking, what are the main causes of deficiency and how good is this minerals.

The main causes of the deficiency fall into 2 grouping. 1) Nutritional factors and 2) problems of absorption.

1) Nutritional Reasons

Meat products are the only foods that provide significant amounts of vitamin B12. The richest sources are liver and kidneys of consumable-meat stuff. Fish, eggs, cheese and meat also contain good amounts. There are no significant herbal sources.

Some researchers claim to have discovered vitamin B12 in algae, seaweeds and fermented foods such as tempeh - however recently this has been dis-proven.

Which type of people are at risk of this vitamin deficiency the above factors. This include:

1) Vegans

A vegan diet must be supplemented with this mineral. The body is able to store this vitamin and also has clever mechanisms for recycling it when there is a dietary lack - however eventually it will become depleted.

It is particularly important to take the supplements immediately on converting to a vegan diet, because it takes some time for the body to become more efficient in recycling. Calcium may also need to be supplemented. This mineral is necessary for b12 absorption and is often lacking in vegan diets.

For people taking alcoholic beverage

Alcohol causes depletion of the vitamin b12 and other vitamins and minerals. Over consumption of alcohol will damage liver and intestine function resulting in poor nutrient absorption

2) There are problems of absorption

This vitamin is a large molecule and quite touch for our body to absorb. The body has developed a sophisticated system for dealing with it. The stomach produces a substance called intrinsic factor that carries vitamin b through the digestive tract for absorption in the lower part of the small intestine (ileum).

The mechanism for absorbing this mineral may be affected by a variety of factors:

Surgery to remove part of the stomach or the ileum may result in damaged its absorption. Insufficient gastric acid. This mineral in food needs to be cleaved from its carrier proteins by the stomach acids.

If for any reason there is an insufficiency of hydrochloric acid it will not be available for absorption. This situation may occur for many reasons, including long-term use of antacids and certain pharmaceutical drugs such was Metformin (a diabetic drug).

Helicobacter Pylori bacterial infection of the stomach. This bacteria infects the stomach lining and may cause ulcers. Although H. Pylori infection is quite common and may cause no apparent symptoms it can prevent the production of intrinsic factor and thereby impair Vitamin B12 absorption.

Parasites such as tape worms.

Other chronic gastro-intestinal problems such as Crohn's Disease.

What are the symptoms of vitamin b deficiency?

A long-term deficiency of Vitamin b can be extremely serious. This vitamin works closely with folic acid to produce haemoglobin in red blood cells. It also plays a crucial role in DNA synthesis and proper nerve and brain function.

There are some early-warning symptoms of b12 depletion are some burning sensation in the hands and feet, numbness and damaged mental function. However these signs may go unnoticed before a more serious problem develops.

The lack of this supplement can lead to a blood disorder called "Pernicious Anaemia" which may result in blindness and permanent damage to the nervous system. We definitely want to avoid getting to this point before addressing the deficiency!

Therefore, besides the good about vitamin b, people should know the deficiency of vitamin b so as to lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
About the Author
Eddy Kong WW is the webmaster of the 17 Minutes Vitamin Supplements Resource. Drop by at Good About B12 Vitamins for more information.
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