Vitamin B12 also called cobalamin is the last among the group of eight B complex vitamins which is actively involved in several metabolic processes. It is the largest and structurally complicated of all the B vitamins which contain biochemically rare element cobalt, hence vitamin B12 compounds are collectively known as “cobalamins”. Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxy adenosylcobalamin are the two active forms of vitamin B12 needed for metabolism. Also Read: Vitamin B12: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies and Toxicity
This essential vitamin is needed for the synthesis of red blood cells in the bone marrow and acts as a cofactor for DNA synthesis. It plays a vital role in the metabolism of fats, proteins and energy production. Vitamin B12 is also required for the normal functioning of the nervous system and healthy working of the brain.
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Vitamin B12 is valued as a potent brain nutrient and plays a crucial role in treating Alzheimer’s, memory loss and dementia. Besides, vitamin B12 is also effective in promoting mood, slowing down ageing and triggering the immunity. Adding this essential vitamin in the diet plan helps to lower the homocysteine levels in the blood, a protein which increases the risk of heart diseases.
Deficiency of vitamin B12 is very rare and develop when the body is unable to get an adequate amount of vitamin B12 from the diet. Mostly vitamin B12 deficiency affects the functioning of the brain and nervous system and some of the symptoms associated with this include depression, fatigue, nerve damage, memory loss and confusion. It also leads to anaemia and people with vitamin B12 deficiency are susceptible to the effects of infections.
Vegetarians are at high risk of being deficient in vitamin B12, apart from individuals with gastric problems and other gut disorders, as the small intestine also faces difficulty in absorbing vitamin B12.
As it is a water-soluble vitamin it gets dissolved and travel via the bloodstream. The body generally stores vitamin B12 up to 4 years and any excess amount produced is excreted.
Vitamin B12 is available in a rich array of natural food sources such as eggs, fortified food products and dairy products. It is also in the form of supplements. The recommended dietary allowance of cobalamin for adult men and women is 1 mcg.
Check out this infographic to know more about folate-rich food options.