When it comes to B vitamins, particular attention is paid to vitamin B12: what is it for and how can we integrate it into our body?
Today we shed some light on the subject, to analyze the sources of vitamin B12, the quantities to be taken daily and its usefulness even during pregnancy.
But we also make a brief summary of the possible consequences that occur when the body is deficient in them.
In short, let's put vitamin b12 under our magnifying glass and discover all its secrets, benefits and uses in everyday life.
What is vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 is a particular water-soluble vitamin, therefore called water-soluble. It is also known as cobalamin because it contains a mineral called cobalt. It belongs to vitamin B group, useful to the human body to guarantee the energy supply useful for every daily activity, to protect the skin and bones and to prevent some diseases such as cardiovascular, dermatological or neurological.
However, this type of vitamin has a major limitation: man is unable to synthesize them, therefore it is necessary that they are taken in through food or through appropriate supplements.
What is Vitamin B12 used for?
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that performs various basic functions for the human body and for this reason it is necessary that it is always integrated sufficiently. But what is it for and what benefits does it bring to man?
- Promotes the metabolism of amino acids, nucleic acids and fatty acids;
- It allows the formation of red blood cells
- It has effects on stress and mood swings
- Transform nutrients into energy
- Protects hair, teeth and skin
- It ensures the functioning of the nerves
- Contributes to DNA synthesis
Vitamin b12: what is it for in synthesis? It is evident that it acts on several fronts allowing man to live in a healthier, more energetic and healthy way, already in the womb of the woman. This is why we need to dedicate a separate study to vitamin b12 in pregnancy.
What is vitamin b12 used for during pregnancy?
During pregnancy it is essential for the woman to always integrate the sufficient amount of vitamin B12. In fact it is important to ensure the health and growth of the fetus from the first months.
Why is it so important? Here are the reasons:
- Helps prevent malformations
- Contributes to cell division
- Promotes the production of red blood cells
- Prevents anemia
- Helps in DNA synthesis
While under normal conditions the daily requirement of vitamin B12 is equal to 2.4 (μg) for adults, in the case of a pregnant woman this requirement increases and it is necessary to make sure to take at least 2.6 (μg) per day, even after the birth of the child and during the breastfeeding period.
In case of vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy, the consequences are very dangerous for the fetus, as alterations in brain development and even neural tube defects can occur.
Where is vitamin b12 found?
We anticipated that vitamin b12 must be properly integrated with foods: yes, but which ones?
Vitamin B12 is bound to proteins in foods of animal origin. In particular it is found in these products:
- milk and dairy products;
However, the percentages with which it is synthesized by the body are different according to the type of food and to be exact, we receive 60% with meat and milk; the 30-40% with fish and the 10% with roe.
What about vegans? We remind you that those who follow a vegan diet cannot eat foods that derive from the animal world. In these cases you have to fall back on some algae, brewer's yeast and some oriental foods such as tempeh and kombucha. And of course, since the quantities would not be sufficient, it is necessary to add vitamin b12 supplements to your diet.
Shortage and consequences
In fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is not only negative for pregnant women and the baby they are carrying. Everyone else also needs this nutrient in the right amount. What happens if it is deficient? The first and most serious problem is anemia which can also have consequences in normal daily activities with lack of energy, severe weakness, weight loss, fatigue and shortness of breath, pallor and tingling throughout the body. When the deficiency is very pronounced, it can also have consequences on the nervous system and cognitive activities.
In children, however, a lack of vitamin B12 leads to delays in development and growth.
In reality, you don't have to be afraid of finding yourself in this situation if you regularly follow a diet rich in all nutrients and balanced. The problem arises when pathologies occur that do not allow this type of vitamin to be absorbed properly. For example with inflammatory diseases or in celiac subjects, who must necessarily help themselves with supplements.
To understand if you are deficient in vitamin B12, you need to undergo blood tests which also identify problems related to red blood cells.
Vitamin b12: subjects at risk
For greater clarity, let's make a short list of the subjects most at risk who absolutely must monitor their amount of vitamin B12.
- People with severe intestinal disorders
- People who have undergone surgery in the stomach
- Anemic people
- Those who concurrently take certain types of drugs that counteract the absorption of vitamin B12
Knowing the problem in time, however, is already an excellent starting point for treating it adequately with supplement-based therapies (or with an ad hoc diet) prescribed by the doctor.
When to take Vitamin B12?
But when is the ideal time to increase your daily doses of vitamin B12? Assuming that the lack is a problem while the excess does not cause any consequences, it is always advisable to have a supply in the form of food or supplements, to meet every need.
However, there are times when the body needs higher doses than normal, ie when it is particularly debilitated and tired after a period of high stress, or in the vicinity of a demanding sporting activity. In any case, the energy intake is not immediate but arrives in the body gradually, so it is useless to take it to have instant effects, for example before sports competitions.
But are we sure that exaggerating with the doses does not have repercussions on health? Well yes, there is no need to worry because the excess quantities are excreted in the urine.
What vitamin b12 is for and where to find it should by now be clear to everyone: remember that it is essential for our body and a possible deficiency should not be underestimated in order not to have to face much more serious problems in the future.