12 facts about lack of vitamin B12 side effects
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that is receiving increasing attention. Many people wonder if they are lack of vitamin B12 side effects. What should you pay attention to, and what are the most recent insights? Is it useful to take extra vitamin B12, and can it do too much harm? The problem of a lack of vitamin B12 side effects can be resolved. We summarize the facts.
1. Only animal products are rich in vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), a water-soluble vitamin, is only found in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, milk and eggs. Liver and liver products contain very large amounts of vitamin B12. In some algae and seaweeds, there is a substance that resembles vitamin B12. However, this substance is inactive as a vitamin. This fake vitamin B12 can even have a negative effect because it blocks the absorption of real vitamin B12.
2. Nutrient B12 is significant for the sensory system and blood
Vitamin B12 plays a role in the formation of red blood cells, ensures the proper functioning of the nervous system and is an essential factor for growth. It is also involved in the metabolism of folic acid.
3. We can get enough vitamin B12 through food
Our daily diet contains more vitamin B12 than the recommended daily amount set by the Health Council. We get vitamin B12 mainly through eating meat. Vegans, in particular, run a risk of a too low intake of vitamin B12. The Health Council, therefore, advises this group to take extra vitamin B12.
4. A vitamin B12 deficiency can already start in the stomach
The most common cause of a vitamin B12 deficiency is disturbed uptake in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the problem is already caused earlier: in the stomach. To release vitamin B12 from proteins, stomach acid and pepsin (an enzyme) are needed. In addition, vitamin B12 is linked to the substance “intrinsic factor”. Intrinsic factor is a constituent of gastric juice, which is produced by the gastric mucosa. If the gastric mucosa is damaged, a vitamin B12 deficiency will eventually arise, because the body cannot produce stomach acid, pepsin and / or intrinsic factor.
5. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause memory problems
With a shortage of vitamin B12, less DNA can be produced, which is necessary if body cells multiply. Blood and nerve cells, in particular, multiply rapidly, and that is where the effects of a deficiency can be seen first. This can lead to anaemia and damage to the nervous system. This manifests itself in symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite and headache, but in the long term also in typical symptoms such as tingling and numb hands and feet, memory problems and coordination disorders.
6. Pernicious anaemia is not synonymous with a vitamin B12 deficiency
The terms ‘pernicious anaemia’ and ‘vitamin B12 deficiency’ are often used interchangeably. Officially, people only speak of pernicious anaemia if the vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by autoimmune gastritis. The body attacks its own stomach lining, as it were, causing a permanent inflammation of the stomach lining. As a result, the stomach wall also produces much less gastric juice and an intrinsic factor than normal at a young age, which hinders the absorption of B12. As a result, a specific type of anaemia can arise pernicious anaemia.
7. Vitamin B12 is absorbed in various ways
Active absorption of vitamin B12 occurs in the gut via specific receptors. These receptors only bind vitamin B12 when it is first bound to intrinsic factor.
Passive absorption of vitamin B12 occurs through diffusion, so without the cells having to do any work. No intrinsic factor is then required. This recording takes place over the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract. On average, 1% of orally administered vitamin B12 (in crystalline form) is absorbed via diffusion.
8. An injection is not always necessary
Patients with admission disorders are often treated with B12 injections directly into the muscles, for which they have to go to the doctor or hospital at regular intervals. As indicated earlier, the body can also take up vitamin B12 passively over the length of the entire gastrointestinal tract. No intrinsic factor is then required. Patients can therefore also be helped with high-dose B12 supplements (1 mg per day), of which approximately 1% is recorded passively. In this way, sufficient vitamin B12 is eventually absorbed into the body.
9. Too much vitamin B12 can’t hurt
With a high intake, the body can limit the intake of vitamin B12 from food. In addition, there are no known adverse effects on the body from a high vitamin B12 intake. The intake percentage of vitamin B12 decreases with increasing intake. With an intake of 1 microgram, 50% is absorbed, with an intake of 25 micrograms. This is only 5%.
10. Diabetes type 2 patients must pay attention to!
Diabetic patients who use the drug metformin for a long time run the risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. This medicine has a negative influence on the absorption of vitamin B12 in the intestines.
11. Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with Alzheimer’s
Vitamin B12 influences the level of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is a substance that occurs during the metabolism of proteins. A high homocysteine level is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases.
12. Extra vitamin B12 has no influence on hair, skin and nails
In general, a healthy diet is important for a healthy scalp and hair. The Vitamin Information Bureau regularly receives questions about taking extra vitamin B12 for the skin, hair and nails. However, vitamin B12 is not directly associated with hair, skin and nails. Other vitamins and minerals do play a role in this: for example, retinol (vitamin A), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), biotin (vitamin B8), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) or iron.