VITAMIN B-12 AND VITAMIN B-12 DEFICIENCY
Vitamin B-12is a water soluble vitamin which helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. It functions as a methyl donor and works with folic acid in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells and is vitally important in maintaining the health of the insulation sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Vitamin B-12 is also called Cobalamin, as it contains the metal cobalt. During digestion hydrochloric acid in our stomach releases B-12 from proteins in foods. This vitamin B12 then combines with a substance called gastric intrinsic factor (IF). This complex can then be absorbed by the intestinal tract. Vitamin b-12 metabolizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It also assists in the proper functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN B-12
- Increased Level of Energy
- Healthier Immune System
- Deeper and More Restful Sleep
- Increased Metabolism
- Improved Weight Control
- Reduced Allergies
- Reduced Stress
- Reduced Depression
- Enhanced Sexuality
Though Vitamin B-12 is water-soluble it does not get excreted quickly in the urine, but rather accumulates and gets stored in the liver, kidney and other body tissues. Thus its deficiency may not manifest itself until after 5 or 6 years of a diet supplying inadequate amounts. The most common vitamin B-12 deficiency disease is pernicious anemia characterized by large, immature red blood cells. You may suffer from underlying stomach or intestinal disorder that limits the absorption of vitamin B-12. It is seen that many patients exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s actually suffer from Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Common signs and symptoms associated with Vitamin B-12 deficiency include:
- Anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss
- Neurological problems such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet,
- Difficulty in maintaining balance, Depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory,
- Soreness of the mouth or tongue, Asthma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus,
- diabetic neuropathy and low sperm Counts, In infants it will lead to movement
- disorders, delayed development, and megaloblastic anemia
Anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated by taking folic acid but it cannot correct the nerve damage also caused by B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated.
Vegetarians have to be careful as vegetables and fruits do not provide sufficient vitamin B-12. It has been recorded that mainly strict, long-term vegetarians suffer from its deficiency. The production of the intrinsic factor required to absorb the vitamin from the small intestine also starts to decline rapidly with age. The richest dietary sources of vitamin B12 are liver, especially lamb’s liver, and kidneys. Eggs, cheese and some species of fish also supply small amounts.
VITAMIN B COMPLEX
The B vitamins are eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cellmetabolism. Historically, the B vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B (much as people refer to vitamin C or vitamin D). Later research showed that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. Supplements containing all eight are generally referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin (e.g. B, B, B etc ).
List of B vitamins
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin, includes nicotinic acid and nicotinamide)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin), also known as vitamin H
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid), also, vitamin M
- Vitamin B12 (various cobalamins; commonly cyanocobalamin (we use methylcobalamin and hydroxycobalamin due to increased bio-availabilty and low toxicity) in vitamin supplements)
Many of the following substances have been referred to as vitamins because they were believed to be vitamins at one time, and they are relevant to vitamin nomenclature in that the numbers that were assigned to them form “gaps” in the series of B-vitamin names. Some of them, though not essential to humans, are essential in the diets of other organisms; others have no known nutritional value.
- Vitamin B7: Adenine, a nucleobase, is synthesized by the human body.
- Vitamin B9: “Vitamin I” of Centanni E. (1935) Ñ also called ‘Enteral factor’ Ñ is a water and alcohol soluble rice-bran factor which prevents digestive disturbance in pigeons. It governs the anatomical and functional integrity of the intestinal tract. Later found in yeast. Possible candidates for this substance are inositol, niacin (nicotinic acid), and biotin. Carnitine was also claimed to be a candidate but is not soluble in alcohol.
- Vitamin B8: adenosine monophosphate, or alternately myo-inositol, is synthesized by the human body.
- Vitamin B10: para-aminobenzoic acid, or PABA
- Vitamin B11: Pteryl-hepta-glutamic acid Ð Chick growth factor, which is a form of Folic acid. Later found to be one of five folates necessary for humans; also known as Vitamin S or Factor S. (L-carnitine) is called Vitamin B in France.
- Vitamin B13: Orotic acid, now known to not be a vitamin.
- Vitamin B14: cell proliferant, anti-anemia, rat growth, and antitumor pterin phosphate named by Earl R. Norris (biochemist of folic acid fame). Isolated from human urine at 0.33ppm (later in blood), but later abandoned by him as further evidence did not confirm this. He also claimed this was not Xanthopterin.
- Vitamin B15 6-O-(dimethylaminoacetyl)-D-gluconic acid (Pangamic acid)
- Vitamin B16 (dimethylglycine) Ð also known as DMG. (However Lipoic acid was discovered and named a B-Vitamin after B15 and before B17)
- Vitamin B17 (Amygdalin, Nitrilosides, or laetrile) Ð A substance found in a number of seeds, sprouts, beans, tubers and grains. While toxic in large quantities, proponents claim that it is effective in cancer treatment and prevention.
- Vitamin B18
- Vitamin B19
- Vitamin B20 (Carnitine)
- Vitamin B21 Ð
- Vitamin B22 Ð often claimed as an ingredient of Aloe vera extracts but also in many other foods. Claimed by one source to be Vitamin B12b.
- Vitamin hB Ð another name for Biotin
- Vitamin Bm(“mouse factor”) Ð also used to designate Inositol
- Vitamin Bp (Choline) Ð Choline is only required for survival of some mutants. Most commonly it is synthesizedin vivode novo May be added as supplement especially when methionine supply is limited.
- Vitamin Bt (L-carnitine)
- Vitamin Bv Ð a type of B but not Pyridoxine
- Vitamin Bw Ð a type of Biotin but not d-Biotin
- Vitamin Bx Ð another name for PABA (para-Aminobenzoic acid)
- Lipoic Scid
Note: B16, B17, B18, B19, B20, B21 & B22 do not appear to be animal factors but are claimed by some naturopaths as human therapeutic factors.
The B vitamins are necessary in order to:
- Support and increase the rate of metabolism
- Maintain healthy skin and muscle tone
- Enhance immune and nervous system function
- Promote cell growth and division Ñ including that of the red blood cells that help prevent anemia.
- Reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal forms of cancer, when consumed in food, but not when ingested in vitamin tablet form.
All B vitamins are water soluble, and are dispersed throughout the body. Most of the B vitamins must be replenished daily, since any excess is excreted in the urine.
B Vitamin Deficiency
Several named vitamin deficiency diseases may result from the lack of sufficient B-vitamins. Deficiencies of other B vitamins result in symptoms that are not part of a named deficiency disease.
Vitamin B1 thiamine Deficiency causes beriberi. Symptoms of this disease of the nervous system include weight loss, emotional disturbances, Wernicke’s encephalopathy (impaired sensory perception), weakness and pain in the limbs, periods of irregular heartbeat, and edema (swelling of bodily tissues). Heart failure and death may occur in advanced cases. Chronic thiamine deficiency can also cause Korsakoff’s syndrome, an irreversible psychosis characterized by amnesia and confabulation.
Vitamin B2 riboflavin Deficiency causes ariboflavinosis. Symptoms may include cheilosis (cracks in the lips), high sensitivity to sunlight, angular cheilitis, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), seborrheic dermatitis or pseudo-syphilis (particularly affecting the scrotum or labia majora and the mouth), pharyngitis, hyperemia, and edema of the pharyngeal and oralmucosa.
Vitamin B3 niacin Deficiency, along with a deficiency of tryptophan causes pellagra. Symptoms include aggression, dermatitis, insomnia, weakness, mental confusion, and diarrhea. In advanced cases, pellagra may lead to dementia and death.
Vitamin B5 pantothenic acidDeficiency can result in acne and paresthesia, although it is uncommon.
Vitamin B6 pyridoxine Deficiency may lead to anemia, depression, dermatitis, high blood pressure (hypertension), water retention, and elevated levels of homocysteine.
Vitamin B7 biotin Deficiency does not typically cause symptoms in adults but may lead to impaired growth and neurological disorders in infants.
Vitamin B9 folic acid Deficiency results in a macrocytic anemia, and elevated levels of homocysteine. Deficiency in pregnant women can lead to birth defects. Supplementation is often recommended during pregnancy. Researchers have shown that folic acid might also slow the insidious effects of age on the brain.
Vitamin B12 cobalaminDeficiency causes macrocytic anemia, elevated homocysteine, peripheral neuropathy, memory loss and other cognitive deficits. It is most likely to occur among elderly people as absorption through the gut declines with age; the autoimmune disease pernicious anemia is another common cause. It can also cause symptoms of mania and psychosis. In rare extreme cases, paralysis can result.
Vitamin B Sources
Different B vitamins come from different natural sources, such as potatoes, bananas, lentils, chile peppers, tempeh, beans, liver oil, liver, turkey, tuna, nutritional yeast (or brewer’s yeast) and molasses. Marmite and Vegemite bill themselves as “one of the world’s richest known sources of vitamin B”. As might be expected, due to its high content of brewer’s yeast, beer is a source of B vitamins, although this may be less true for filtered beersand the alcohol in beer impairs the body’s ability to activate vitamins.
The B-12 vitamin is of note because it is not available from plant products, making B-12 deficiency a concern for vegans. Manufacturers of plant-based foods will sometimes report B-12 content, leading to confusion about what sources yield B-12.
The confusion arises because the standard US Pharmacopeia (USP) method for measuring the B-12 content does not measure the B-12 directly. Instead, it measures a bacterial response to the food. Chemical variants of the B-12 vitamin found in plant sources are active for bacteria, but cannot be used by the human body. This same phenomenon can cause significant over-reporting of B-12 content in other types of foods as well.
Vitamin B may also be delivered by injection to reverse deficiencies.
Another popular means of increasing one’s vitamin B intake is through the use of dietary supplements purchased at supermarkets, health centers, or natural food stores.