Like many other vitamins, Vitamin B12 takes over not only one, but many different functions in your body and is involved in a variety of metabolic processes. And because it is so multifunctional, you should always pay attention to meeting your daily needs. We will tell you what the human body needs Vitamin B12 for, how you can detect a deficiency and which foods contain particularly much of the vitamin.
Functions in the body
Vitamin B12 is a real all-rounder for healthy metabolism. The special thing about this Vitamin is that it is actually a kind of collective term for various chemical compounds based on the element Cobalt. So Vitamin B12 is actually not just a single micronutrient, so it's no wonder it has a big impact on your health.
One of the most important functions is the breakdown of fatty acids in the body so that certain rearrangement reactions can take place and thus also the energy production in the mitochondria of your muscles. It is similar in the amino acid metabolism, where Vitamin B12 together with folic acid(Vitamin B9) ensures the breakdown of the harmful amino acid homocysteine. This can otherwise lead to diseases of the blood vessels in excess. Indirectly, it is involved in blood coagulation and protects your cardiovascular System.
In addition, Vitamin B12 is responsible for the activation of folic acid, which plays a major role in the synthesis of DNA building blocks and cell formation in your bone marrow. Accordingly, Vitamin B12 not only supports the formation of new red blood cells and nerve cells, but also promotes healthy cell division and flawless iron utilization. In this way, it is essential for your physical, mental, but also emotional energy.
Due to its influence on cell formation and development of the nervous system, Vitamin B12 plays an extremely important role, especially during pregnancy. Because the unborn has a very high need in order to be able to develop limbs and brain healthily.
So you realize that your overall well-being and immune system depend on you taking enough Vitamin B12. Which leads us to the following question :
What is the daily requirement for Vitamin B12?
As far as the need is concerned, Vitamin B12 is also a special case. Because we are able to create a Depot. Our body stores the Vitamin mainly in the liver, where it is provided if necessary. So it's not dramatic if you can't cover your daily needs. This is about four micrograms(µg) for adolescents over 15 years of age and adults. Depending on age and stage of life, however, this varies naturally:
- Breastfeeding mothers with 5.5 µg and pregnant women with 4.5 µg have the highest need.
- Children have a significantly lower need-provided that they were able to set up a completely filled Depot as a Baby. This depends on whether the mother has adequately covered her Vitamin B12 needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Foods with Vitamin B12
Because Vitamin B12 itself cannot be produced by our body, it must be absorbed through food. Important first: your body cannot use the entire amount of vitamin contained in the food. The micrograms that are ultimately available to you correspond to about half of the amount ingested. In addition, we can absorb a maximum of two micrograms of Vitamin B12 per meal, because our small intestine is then "saturated". So this means in Conversely, the diet should be balanced throughout the day.
But what does this look like? Vitamin B12 is formed in the small intestine with the help of microorganisms. Animals absorb the Vitamin just as we do through food, as their food is often supplemented with B12. This is the reason why almost all animal foods contain Vitamin B12 and vegetable unfortunately do not. The only exceptions are foods that have been fermented microbiologically, such as Sauerkraut, juices, bread drink or beer.
You can certainly already think in which foods by far have the largest proportion of Vitamin B12. Right, it is of course offal like liver and kidneys, because the Vitamin is stored here. Depending on the animal species, 100 g of this can contain between 25 and 100 µg. Generally any lean meat and fish species are suitable. But also eggs and certain cheeses contain one to three micrograms per 100 g. Milk and processed foods such as Although buttermilk and yoghurt also have a small proportion (maximum 0.4 µg), they are unsuitable as the main source of Vitamin B12.
As you can see, it is therefore somewhat more difficult for vegetarians and especially vegans to meet their needs. Accordingly, vitamin preparations are recommended for these diets in order to prevent a deficiency in the long term.
Causes and effects of Vitamin B12 deficiency
You can only develop a deficiency if you really do not take enough Vitamin B12 over a long period of time – and we are talking about several years here. Because thanks to our internal Depots, your body can also compensate for an insufficient supply for a long time.
The inclusion, or Lack thereof, can have many different reasons. These include, in the first place, a lack of intake in strictly vegan or vegetarian diets. In addition, the following health factors have an influence:
- chronic inflammatory bowel diseases and coeliac disease interfere with the intake
- chronic liver or kidney diseases lead to a higher demand
- Acid blockers such as pantoprazole have a negative effect on the recording
- too little Intrinsic Factor in the stomach (this is a protein that is needed for absorption
In addition, smokers, alcoholics and the elderly are at risk due to poorer absorption.
Whether you suffer from a lack of Vitamin B12, you can see, among other things, how effectively your wound healing works. Because cell and blood formation are among the main tasks, anemia is one of the first symptoms. Known symptoms include dizziness, decreased performance, pale mucous membranes and poor concentration, as well as fatigue. Anemia also affects the condition of your hair(especially hair loss), skin and eyes. Also your muscles and nerves can be weakened by a Vitamin B12 deficiency. This can even disturb your depth sensitivity and lead to paralysis.
This makes it all the more important to keep the concentration in the blood high enough. So if you have a suspicion, you better get a blood count to be sure. But be careful: many doctors still classify a Vitamin B12 level between 200 pg/ml and 350 pg/ml as normal, although current studies assume that the level should not be below 450 pg/ml.
We hope you've been able to gain some new insights and determine for yourself whether your diet meets your Vitamin B12 needs or whether you may even have deficiency symptoms.
Stay healthy and we'll read next week.