Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vitman B-12, Why Do I Need It, How Much Do I Need, Where Can I Get It?

What is vitamin B-12, how much do I need, and where can I find it?
The essential water-soluble vitamin B-12, is unique among vitamins because it contains a metal called cobalt. Therefore, the term, cobalamin is applied to denote substances possessing vitamin B-12 activity. The form of vitamin B-12 generally found in nutritional supplements is cyanocobalamin, which is converted to the active form of the vitamin (coenzyme) in the body. A vitamin b-12 deficiency results in anemia, nerve damage, low sperm counts, and reduced energy. Vitamin b-12 aids in maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells. It facilitates the production of the protein, hemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrying pigment in red blood cells. the production of DNA in the body requires vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 in food is bound to proteins and is released from the proteins during the process of digestion by the action of hydrochloric acid present in the stomach. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 may occur due to low stomach acid.

In humans, a vitamin B12-dependent enzyme facilitates the metabolisms of certain amino acids and fatty acids and plays a role in the production of energy from dietary fats and proteins. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid are required to utilize L-methionine, and essential amino acid, in the body and convert it into an activated form, which modified fats, hormones, DNA, and proteins, thereby influencing body cell functions. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid are critical for the reconversion of homocysteine, a metabolite of L-methionine, into L-methionine. Inadequate functioning of the enzyme protein responsible for this transformation can lead to the accumulation of homocysteine, which possesses undesirable effects on heart health.

Most microorganisms, including bacteria and algae, synthesize vitamin B-12, and they constitute the only source of this vitamin. The vitamin B-12 synthesized in microorganisms enters the human food chain through incorporation into foods of animal origin such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. Fortified breakfast cereals are good sources of vitamin B-12. It is not present in foods from plants, and therefore, supplementation is needed in strict vegetarians. The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin B-12 for adults is 6 mcg. Aging and other factors concerned with intestinal function decrease vitamin B-12 absorption. Accordingly, 100-400 mcg of vitamin B-12/day had generally been recommended. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is not uncommon. Excessive levels of folic acid may result in the masking of vitamin B-12 deficiency in the elderly.

Still more information on B vitamins tomorrow.

Blessings for a Glorious Day!

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