Vitamin B12 cannot be called simply beneficial, because it is vital for absolutely any person. To understand its importance to our organism you should know that this nutrient contains cobalt — the most important trace element to maintain health.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 was discovered thanks to a happy incident: American doctor U. Murphy has absolutely accidentally discovered that the use of raw liver helps to cope with anemia in dogs.
Other scientists — D. Will and D. Minot were able to somehow get from the liver a useful substance, which was called cobalamin or vitamin B12. Later, all three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for their amazing discovery.
Just like many other vitamins, B12 can be found in a variety of forms. Some amount of this substance is synthesized by the intestine; in addition, it enters the organism together with consumed food products of animal origin.
Regardless of the fact that this vitamin belongs to the group of water-soluble vitamins, it can accumulate in large quantities in a healthy liver.
Why do people need vitamin B12?
In the human organism, cobalamin fulfills many of the most important functions:
- It takes an active part in the cell division
- It participates in the formation of red blood cells, so vitamin B12 deficiency very often causes malignant anemia
- It is involved in the construction of nerve cells
- Prevents the accumulation of fat as in the whole organism and in the liver specifically
- Has a strong influence on the immune system
- Interacting with vitamin C and certain acids, it is involved in protein and carbohydrate metabolism
As can be concluded from the foregoing, cobalamin is simply irreplaceable for the human organism, both for the kids and adults.
Also vitamin B12 helps to ensure:
- Good appetite in children
- Intensive growth of the child’s body
- Support the health of the nervous system
- Reduction of irritability
- Improvement of concentration and memory
In addition, vitamin B12 is amazingly useful for hair and bones, as this substance contribute to their strengthening.
What if a person doesn’t consume this vitamin in necessary quantities?
As already mentioned above, cobalamin plays a very important role in the functioning of several systems of the human body at once. Therefore, deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to very serious consequences:
- Destruction of myelin layers, which protect nerve cells from damage. This process, in turn, often leads to the development of multiple sclerosis
- Development of other nervous illnesses
- Deviation in the work of the brain
- Frequent and severe headaches
- Constant irritability
- Serious memory impairment, etc.
- To prevent this from happening, it is important to know which signs may indirectly indicate that there is an acute shortage of cobalamin in the organism.
- So, the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency usually consist of the following:
- Bad coagulation of blood
- Irregular menstrual cycle in women
- Periodic tingling or numbness in the legs
- Constant weakness and fatigue
- Memory problems
- Rapid heartbeat
- Reduction of reflexes
- Inflamed tongue
- Depression and excessive nervousness
There are a number of factors that may in some way cause a deficiency of cobalamin in the organism:
Various inflammatory diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract can cause the cells to cease to produce the substances necessary for its assimilation
Inadequate secretion of the gastric acid also prevents the normal absorption of cobalamin
Reception of a large number of medications or hormonal contraceptives
It is also worth noting that people, who adhere to the fashionable nowadays strict vegetarian diet, suffer from a shortage of this compound several times more often than those who eat meat.
What are the sources of В12?
In spite of all the above, it’s worth admitting that the daily need of the human organism in cobalamin is very small — just 3 micrograms per day.
In order to prevent health problems associated with the lack of this useful substance, everyone should know what products contain vitamin B12.
Therefore, the best source of cobalamin is food products of animal origin, especially the liver, kidneys and heart. A large concentration of this substance is in seafood and sea fish (crab, sardines, salmon, tuna, flounder, etc.). Also in the egg yolk, milk, some varieties of cheese and meat.
During the rapid thermal processing of food, cyanocobalamin practically doesn’t get destroyed. For example, meat can be cooked with sugar, frying for no more than ten minutes. It is desirable to cook the liver for not more than seven – eight minutes and then it will almost completely preserve all the useful substances.
The digestion of B12 is ensured by the fact that the mucoprotein contained in the gastric juice is interconnected with cobalamin. Thus forms another complex protein that is then easily absorbed from the intestine. In addition, adequate assimilation of B12 is inextricably linked with the level of calcium in the organism.