B12 also called Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and energy production. It is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin and can only be produced through bacterial fermentation syntheses. Meaning you must have enough “friendly bacteria” in your digestive system to make B12.
The complete molecular structure for B12 was not discovered until the 1960’s. It has been prescribed for people with the autoimmune disorder Pernicious Anemia. Pernicious anemia causes damage to red blood cells and occurs when the body cannot properly absorb vitamin B12 from the gastrointestinal tract. This can be a result of poor gut health, infections from lack of intestinal flora (probiotics-good bacteria). People who have Pernicious anemia feel tired, short of breath, confused and off balance. To this day B12 is still recommended for this purpose.
Vitamin B12 is naturally present in some foods that come from animals, including fish and shellfish, liver, eggs, milk and milk products. It is also available as a dietary supplement and can be found in just about every health food store. One of the most intriguing facts about B12 is that plants and animals cannot manufacture it on their own. Plants or animals make most vitamins, but only microorganisms can make B12 – yeast, molds, algae and bacteria’s. That is an important fact to know because our digestive tract contains friendly yeast and bacteria that manufacture B12. It is very important to make sure you are getting enough B12 because it makes red blood cells and you need those for your very survival. A good source of red blood cells helps you create energy. Plus red blood cells make up your blood!
We tend to think of B12 as an energy supplement and we should for the reasons I have mentioned, but did you know that B12 also helps you sleep. B12 provokes faster release of the sleep hormone melatonin, so you can get sleep easier. It also happens to sensitize you to waking up earlier by causing the melatonin to retreat as soon as light shines into your room, so this is a good vitamin to take if you have sleep problems!
Other symptoms of B12 deficiency are tiredness, profound fatigue and weakness, especially in the arms and legs. You may become depressed and could develop tongue, mouth or gum sores as well as pale skin and lips. Other deficiency symptoms include low appetite, confusion and forgetfulness. A shortage of B12 may also lead to easy bruising and peripheral neuropathy, a feeling of vibration or buzzing in the legs and pins and needles sensation in your hands and feet, like little bee stings everywhere but not quite that intense.
Vegetarians and vegans may become deficient in B12 because they do not eat meat. Any one who consumes alcohol on a regular basis should consider taking B12 as well.
Prescription drugs and over the counter drugs can interfere with B12 absorption. Here is a list of some of them:
- Acid blockers such as Tagamet, Nexium, Pepcid and Pepcid Complete, Axid, Prilosec OTC, Zantac
- Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, Rolaids, Phillips Milk of Magnesia, Alka-Seltzer
- Cholesterol Medicines like Atromid-S,Zetia, Tricor, Lopid, Questran, Colestipol, Welchol
- Hormone replacement Therapy/Oral contraceptives such as Activella, Climara, CombiPatch, Estraderm, Estring, EstroGel, Menostar and many others.
If you have any other questions about B12 please stop by Natures Cure on Old Dawson road or call 229-446-0505