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Vitamin B12

I. What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is one of the vital vitamins. In order to support your body's functions and feel good, it is important to consume enough of it. In this article you will learn everything you need to know about vitamin B12 - from its definition and meaning, to its functions in the body and its sources, to symptoms and consequences of deficiency, as well as diagnosis and treatment. Read on to learn more about vitamin B12!

a. Definition and meaning

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that our body cannot synthesize itself, which is why it must be obtained through food. It is an important component of the human body and takes part in various metabolic processes that are necessary for the functioning of the nervous system, the immune system and energy metabolism.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that in the event of an overdose it can easily be excreted in the urine. The vitamin is produced by microorganisms and is mainly found in animal products such as eggs, milk and meat.

Vitamin B12 is needed to maintain DNA synthesis and the body's energy balance. The vitamin's most important functions in the body include blood formation, regulating cell growth and division, lowering homocysteine ​​levels, supporting the immune system and supporting the nervous system.

b. Forms of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 comes in different forms. The most common form is cyanocobalamin, a synthetic form most commonly used in dietary supplements. It is also found in foods that are naturally rich in B12, such as fish, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and seaweed. Other forms of vitamin B12 include adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin.

Adenosylcobalamin is the most active form of vitamin B12 in our body. It is a cofactor in the production of coenzyme A and is required for the synthesis of myelin.

Methylcobalamin is the most active form of the vitamin in the blood and is also found in foods containing B12. It is a cofactor in homocysteine ​​synthesis and is required for the enzymatic activity of methionine synthase.

Another form is hydroxocobalamin. This form is also given as a vitamin B12 injection, but is not found in food. It is mainly used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency and other anemias.

c. functions in the body

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that the body needs to function normally. It is an important factor in overall health as it performs a variety of important functions in the body.

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the construction and maintenance of all body cells, especially in the formation of red blood cells. It contributes to the regulation of carbohydrate and fat metabolism as well as energy metabolism through the biotransformation of amino acids , carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA molecules, which are necessary for the growth and development of cells and the breakdown of cellular waste. In addition, the vitamin helps control the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which, in turn, are important for the proper functioning of the nervous system, brain and psyche.

Vitamin B12 is also involved in the function of the immune system because it plays a role in the production and function of various immune cells that help fight infections. It also helps reduce inflammation, which is associated with certain diseases. In addition, vitamin B12 can help relieve chronic fatigue and stress, improve concentration and memory, and stabilize mood.

d. Daily requirements

The daily requirement of vitamin B12 is influenced by various factors such as age, gender, dietary habits and other medical conditions. It is therefore important to determine your personal needs in order to ensure a healthy diet.

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily dose of 4 µg per day from the age of 13. While children under 13 years of age have a lower requirement of between 1.5-3.5 µg, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume 4.5 or 5.5 µg of vitamin B12 per day.

II. Sources of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in many foods such as: B. in fish, meat, milk, eggs, poultry and dairy products. It is produced by microorganisms such as: B. Bacteria are formed and are therefore also found in some vegan and vegetarian foods such as algae and certain fungi. In addition, dietary supplements can support the supply of vitamin B12.

a. Animal sources

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods, as most animals produce vitamin B12 naturally. Good animal sources include:

  • Liver: It is one of the richest sources and also contains other valuable nutrients such as iron, zinc , vitamin A and coenzyme Q10 .
  • Beef brisket: It is also a very nutritious source that also contains other nutrients such as vitamin A , selenium and zinc .
  • Fish: Tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring are some of the healthiest fish species.
  • Eggs
  • Poultry: such as chicken breast, turkey, duck and goose.
  • Dairy products: such as milk, yogurt, cheese and buttermilk
  • Crustaceans: such as mussels, shrimps and crabs contain B12 as well as other nutrients such as selenium , zinc, vitamin A and protein.

b. Plant sources

Vitamin B12 is vital for the human body, but poses a particular problem for vegans and vegetarians because it is mainly found in animal products. However, there are also a number of plant-based foods that contain vitamin B12, such as: B. fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi. Depending on the ripening time, all three contain a relatively high content of vitamin B12.

Some brownish seaweeds, particularly wakame and nori, are also good sources of vitamin B12. Available as powder , tablets , or leaves, these seaweeds can be used in many Asian dishes. Green algae such as chlorella and spirulina also contain relatively high amounts of B12.

Some vegan and vegetarian products available in supermarkets are also fortified with vitamin B12, such as: B. some types of cereal flakes, bread and milk. These products usually contain synthetic vitamin B12, which is easily absorbed by the body.

c. Supplements

Vitamin B12 supplements are available in many forms. Some examples include tablets, liquids, powders and nasal sprays. Vitamin B12 tablets often contain quickly absorbed forms of the vitamin such as cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Liquids are often used in combination with other vitamins, while vitamin B12 powders are a good source of the vitamin but are not as well absorbed as tablets or liquids. Nasal sprays are also an option, but it is important to note that they are not suitable for all people or work immediately for everyone.

III. Risk groups for vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur more frequently in certain populations than others. These groups include:

  • People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet
  • People with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis
  • People taking certain medications
  • People suffering from gastrointestinal diseases
  • People over 50 years old

a. Vegetarians and vegans

Those on a vegetarian or vegan diet have an increased risk of developing B12 deficiency because they have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 from food. Although some vegan foods also contain vitamin B12, the concentration in these is so low that it is almost impossible to get enough B12 from food alone on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

b. People with gastrointestinal diseases

People with gastrointestinal diseases (have a higher risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. For the absorption of B12, an excipient formed in the gastric mucosa, the so-called intrinsic factor, is necessary. In stomach diseases, through operations or through ingestion Certain medications can reduce or even prevent the formation of this excipient.

In people with celiac disease, a deficiency can be caused by an underactive pancreas. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the intestinal lining degenerates and the ability to absorb vitamin B12 is reduced.

c. Elderly people

Vitamin B12 intake is particularly important for people aged 65 and over as they are at increased risk of developing a deficiency. This is due to a number of age-related factors, such as: B. the ability to absorb vitamin B12 through food decreases with age.

IV. Symptoms and consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency often only becomes noticeable after years, as the vitamin is stored in the liver in amounts of 2 mg to 5 mg. If persistent signs of inadequate vitamin B12 intake become apparent, these should always be taken seriously and checked by a doctor in order to prevent serious health consequences.

a. Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency

One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is the inability to concentrate. This is often described as confusion. Many people also report feeling tired, dizzy, or lightheaded for a short time. Increased tiredness and exhaustion, weakness and depressive moods can also be signs of a B12 deficiency.

Another common sign of vitamin B12 deficiency is persistent itching or burning of the skin . The skin may also be more sensitive to touch.

The final common indication of vitamin B12 deficiency is a change in taste or smell. Many people with vitamin B12 deficiency report that their sense of taste is altered or that they have a bitter or metallic taste in their mouth. The sense of smell can also be impaired; some people report smelling things that aren't even there.

b. Consequences of a vitamin B12 deficiency

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to a number of health problems. Long-term deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, anemia and immune deficiency. If not treated in time, it can even lead to irreversible neurological damage and severe nerve dysfunction.

A B12 deficiency can also lead to reduced blood cell performance and thus anemia. Anemia means that there are too few red blood cells in the blood, which reduces the oxygen levels in the bloodstream. Anemia can also cause headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and reduced ability to concentrate.

In addition, a lack of vitamin B12 can impair the immune system . Because vitamin B12 is important for the maintenance and function of immune cells, a deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system. This can cause colds and flu to occur more frequently.

Vitamin B12 can also lead to impaired neurological functions such as: B. Damage to nerve fibers, muscle spasms, paralysis, numbness, balance problems and memory loss.

V. Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency can be diagnosed through various blood tests. These include measuring the level of vitamin B12 in the blood, a blood clotting test (PT) and a blood test for folate. The doctor may also perform a bone marrow aspiration to determine the levels of vitamin B12 in the bone marrow. If the results of the blood test indicate a deficiency, the doctor may recommend various treatment options. The most common treatment is regular intake of vitamin B12 supplements. In severe cases, vitamin B12 injections may also be prescribed. In some cases, high-dose therapy with vitamin B12 is also recommended.

a. diagnosis

To confirm the diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency, the doctor must first collect information about the patient's health and previous dietary habits. A series of tests are then performed to measure vitamin B12 levels in the blood. These include a serum methylmalonic acid and homocysteine ​​test, as well as a blood test to determine serum vitamin B12 levels.

The doctor may also do a test to determine thyroid hormones, thyroid antibodies, folic acid, and other vitamins that are important for the absorption of vitamin B12. He may also carry out tests to check the function of the gastrointestinal tract, as certain diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as: B. Gastritis, can affect the absorption of vitamin B12.

b. Treatment

Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency depends on the cause. If there is an insufficient supply of vitamin B12 due to a diet or a lack of suitable foods, the diet must be changed. Vitamin B12 tablets, capsules , or injections should be considered.

Vitamin B12 preparations such as tablets and capsules usually contain vitamin B12 hydrochloride or cobalamin. Tablets and capsules can be taken orally and are available in pharmacies and drugstores. They can therefore be taken by anyone without a doctor's prescription. Drinking vitamin B12 energy drinks can also help increase vitamin B12 levels.

Injections directly into the vein are another way to increase vitamin B12 levels. These injections are usually given by a healthcare professional and may be injected directly into a vein or muscle. Injections are primarily given to people with nerve damage.

VI. Conclusion on vitamin B12

Now that we have gathered all the important information, we can conclude that vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the body. In order to function properly, the body needs sufficient vitamin B12.

a. Summary

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that is crucial for overall health and well-being. Since it is not produced by the human body itself, it must be consumed with food or in the form of dietary supplements.

The vitamin is required for numerous biological processes and is involved in energy metabolism, the processing of the neurotoxin homocysteine, the protection of the nervous system and blood formation. Vitamin B12 is also important for DNA synthesis and the production of brain chemicals.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue, confusion, memory problems, muscle weakness, breathing problems, difficulty speaking and swallowing, abnormal blood counts and nervous system problems. A deficiency can also lead to anemia.

Most people get enough vitamin B12 from their diet, but some may develop a deficiency as they age or have certain health problems. It is therefore important that people who are at risk of deficiency get enough vitamin B12.

b. Recommendations for the prevention and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is an often underestimated disease that can have serious consequences. Because it is a lifelong condition that can only be remedied through regular intake of vitamin B12, it is important to support the body in preventing and treating deficiency.

The best way to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency and its consequences is to consume a sufficient amount of the vitamin every day. Regular blood tests can help diagnose a deficiency early and prevent a lifelong vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 can be absorbed in various ways. The most common sources are meat, dairy products, fish, eggs and vitamin B12 supplements. People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet should have their vitamin B12 levels checked regularly, as they are at increased risk of deficiency due to the lack of animal protein.

In addition to regular intake, people suffering from B12 deficiency should take other measures to promote a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. This includes adequate intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are also important for the body to function.


What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Too little vitamin B12 can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, anemia, dizziness, confusion, depression, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, and problems with memory and concentration.

How is a vitamin B12 deficiency diagnosed?

A B12 deficiency can be diagnosed through a blood test. The doctor tests the blood for vitamin B12 levels and the number of red blood cells. A low vitamin B12 level combined with a high red blood cell count can indicate a deficiency.

Can you consume too much vitamin B12?

There are no known negative effects of too much vitamin B12 on the body. Since the vitamin is water-soluble, excess B12 is easily excreted from the body.

How much vitamin B12 should I take daily?

The recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 varies depending on age and gender. In general, it is between 2.4 and 2.8 micrograms per day for adults. However, people over 50, vegetarians or vegans, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to consume more.

Can vitamin B12 also be absorbed from plant sources?

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products; plant foods contain only a small amount of vitamin B12. However, some vegetarian and vegan products such as soy products and breakfast cereals are also enriched with vitamin B12.

Which foods contain vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans?

For vegetarians and vegans, choosing foods fortified with vitamin B12 or using dietary supplements can be helpful. Some algae and mushrooms also contain vitamin B 12, but only in very small amounts

Can vitamin B12 deficiency cause dementia in older people?

Severe B12 deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and dementia. However, it is not clear whether mild deficiency can lead to dementia. However, it is known that older individuals are at higher risk of B12 deficiency.

How can I get my vitamin B12 levels tested?

The vitamin B12 level in the body can be determined through a blood test. If you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency or are at increased risk of deficiency, talk to your doctor about the possibility of a blood test.

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