What is it for, rich foods and understanding the lack

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In Brazil, some research indicates that vitamin B12 deficiency is not a problem that affects few people. To give you an idea, according to data from the POF (Family Budget Research) 2017-2018, 7.2% of adult men in the country have an insufficient consumption of vitamin B12, while the number reaches 17.1% among men. adult women. .

The latest National Child Food and Nutrition Survey of 2019 shows a 14.2% prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in children under five. Among people aged between 65 and 74, it is about 5%. Among those over 75, it is more than 10%.

Next, understand how low levels of this vitamin affect various body functions.

Vitamin B12: what is it for? food and more

What is vitamin B12 used for in the human body?

vitamin B12also known as cobalamin, is directly involved in the production of DNA and RNA, and in the formation of blood cells and neurons, being very important for the maintenance of the myelin sheath – the structure that conducts electrical impulses and integrates communication between neurons.

Therefore, it is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular system, as well as for improving the physical and mental disposition. It also acts in fat metabolism, generating energy for the body.

What foods are richest in vitamin B12?

Originally, the vitamin B12 it is present in bacteria that exist in the soil and release the nutrient when broken down by the digestion of herbivorous animals that consume them along with the roots and grazing. Therefore, we get this nutrient indirectly through foods of animal origin (meat, eggs, milk and dairy products).

Discover the best sources of vitamins B12 and the quantity in 100 g, according to the Brazilian Food Composition Chart:

  • Beef liver – 72.2 mcg
  • Chicken liver – 18.9 mcg
  • Seafood – 12 mcg
  • Tuna – 8.19 mcg
  • Chicken heart – 7.57 mcg
  • Sardines -7.32 mcg
  • Oysters – 3.63 mcg
  • Crab – 3.91 mcg
  • Salmon – 3.13 mcg
  • Meat – 2.53 mcg
  • Boiled egg – 1 mcg
  • Yogurt – 0.29 mcg
  • Milk – 0.37 mcg

Who can lack vitamin B12?

The lack of this micronutrient can come mainly from the low consumption of foods of animal origin, which are the main sources of this nutrient. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans should rely on supplementation, in addition to having periodic blood tests to monitor their blood levels.

But the deficiency can also occur due to a deficiency in the process of absorption of the vitamin through digestion, as it depends on the intrinsic factor present in the stomach for this to happen properly.

This is the case of elderly patients who suffer from a certain atrophy of the gastric mucosa due to aging and of those who use antibiotics and antacids – drugs that interfere with the production of intrinsic factor and, therefore, the process of ‘absorption.

Other people prone to vitamin deficiencies B12 are those who suffer from some type of chronic disease such as diabetes.

HIV-positive patients who have the disease in its active form (AIDS) also have difficulty absorbing nutrients and may have low levels. As well as those with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohns or celiac disease, which cause frequent diarrhea and mucosal changes. People who have had bariatric surgery may also have the deficiency.

What are the impacts of a lack of vitamin B12 on the body?

vitamin deficiency B12 can lead to a condition called megaloblastic anemia, in which giant (defective) red blood cells form. When the problem comes from a lack of absorption by the body and not from a low consumption, we speak of pernicious anemia.

Consequently, low levels of the nutrient impact the transport of oxygen to the cells of the body, causing tiredness, tiredness and discouragement. They also affect the neurological part and, if maintained for several years, chronic vitamin deficiency B12 can generate neurological damage such as memory deficits, cognitive dysfunctions, dementia and depressive disorders.

Are common yet appearance canker sores, tingling, cramps, burning tongue, as well as abdominal pain, hair loss, loss of appetite and changes in bowel function, with periods of constipation and other diarrhoea.

Some studies always show a relationship of vitamin deficiency B12 with higher risks of cerebrovascular accident (cerebrovascular accident), precisely because the lack of the nutrient increases the risk of neuropathies and cardiovascular diseases.:

But that’s not fair. An analysis of Bones and Minerals Journal to research concluded that a lack of this micronutrient may be an important risk factor for osteoporosis, as it affects bone formation.

In children, low levels of vitamin B12 impact on growth, in addition to increasing the risk of cardiovascular and neurological problems, with irreversible cognitive damage, since their brain is developing. According to a study published in The Review of pediatrics.

What tests study vitamin B12 levels?

vitamin review B12 Serum, which is measured in the blood, is a good marker for knowing the levels of this nutrient in the body. Dosages of homocysteine and the acid methylmalonicsince its levels increase when it is deficient.

How does vitamin B12 supplementation work?

In general, supplementation is done by ingesting vitamin capsules or tablets. B12what may be sublingual be absorbed through the oral mucosa. there are still the spray nasal and injectable (intramuscular) form, which effectively restore nutrient stores, especially in people with problems of absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

Who should supplement vitamin B12?

In general, any patient who has blood tests with low levels of the vitamin B12 is oriented towards supplementation, provided it is recommended by a doctor or nutritionist. Hence the importance for people who follow restrictive diets or drastic changes in their diet to periodically check this nutrient – in the case of vegetarians and vegans.

Women intending to become pregnant and those who are already pregnant should also be advised to take vitamin supplements. B12. Indeed, inadequate levels of the nutrient during pregnancy are linked to cases of malformations of the baby’s nervous system, with irreversible cognitive damage.

Patients with depression may also benefit from supplementation, according to a study published in The Open NeurologyJournal. The analysis focused on patients who consumed the vitamin B12 with antidepressants and had a significant improvement in symptoms.

Correct vitamin levels B12also contributes for the improvement of neuropathies such as loss of sensitivity in the lower limbs.

What do very high vitamin B12 levels mean?

Because it is water soluble, the vitamin B12 is eliminated through urine and feces, so when its levels appear high in the body, they may indicate a sign of serious illness, according to an article published in the journal Elsevier.

Among them, hematological disorders such as certain types of leukemias and liver diseases (acute hepatitis, cirrhosis, hepatocellular and metastatic liver disease).

How much vitamin B12 should you consume per day?

According to the recommendations of Institute of Medicine, consumption of vitamins B12 by adults is 2.4 micrograms. Pregnant women should consume 2.6 mcg and lactating women, 2.8 mcg per day. In children, this value varies according to age:

  • From 0 to 6 months: 0.4 mcg
  • From 7 to 12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • From 1 to 3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • 4 to 8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • 9 to 13 years old: 1.8 mcg
  • From 14 years old: 2.4 mcg

It is important to emphasize that these levels must be achieved through diet. Only a doctor or nutritionist can recommend supplementation.

Can vitamin B12 supplementation cause side effects?

In general, there are no major side effects related to vitamin supplementation. B12because it is water soluble and excreted mainly in the urine.

But supplementation by intramuscular injection can cause acne on the skin, although the relationship with this factor is not yet clear, in addition to allergic reactions (skin itching, hives, bronchospasm and angioedema), diarrhea, dizziness, nausea and hypokalemia (low blood potassium).

Are there any contraindications to supplementation?

The supplementation of B12 it is contraindicated when the individual has an allergy (or hypersensitivity) to cobalamin or cobalt, which is present in its molecule. Nor should they complement those who have Leberwho already has high levels of cobalamin due to the condition.

Patients with kidney problems should only take supplements under the direction of a physician or nutritionist, as excess is excreted through the kidneys.

Vitamin B12 makes you fat?

No vitamin or mineral carries calories, so they cannot lift weight. What makes you fat is the consumption of excess calories from a diet high in fats and carbohydrates, which are macronutrients.

Does vitamin B12 help you lose weight?

It can be said that maintaining good levels of vitamin B12 contributes for the functioning of the metabolism, including the use of fats as energy, since the nutrient interferes with the action of an enzyme responsible for the process of beta oxidation. However, there is no evidence in studies that people with low levels of the nutrient are more likely to gain weight or have difficulty losing it.

So the best way to lose weight to be continued being the combination of a healthy diet with energy restriction and the practice of physical exercises to generate a calorie deficit.

Source: Cinthia Roman Monteiro, professor of the nutrition course at the Centro Universitário São Camilo (SP); Renata de Oliveira Campos, nutritionist and doctor in interactive processes of organs and systems by the UFBA (Federal University of Bahia), who works as a professor of nutrition at the UFRB (Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia); Cynthia Antonaccio, Master in Human Nutrition from USP (University of São Paulo) and CEO of Equilibrium Latam

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