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Vitamin Series: The Importance Of Vitamin B12

A vitamin is defined as an organic molecule (or set of molecules) that represent an essential micronutrient that an organism needs in very small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism.

We all know that vitamins are fundamental in our lives, but I am not sure if we pay enough attention in consuming the correct amount of them. A vitamin is defined as an organic molecule (or set of molecules) that represent an essential micronutrient that an organism needs in very small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism. Essential nutrients usually cannot be synthesised in or by the organism, either at all or not in sufficient quantities, and therefore they must be obtained through the diet.

Vitamin C for example, can be synthesised by some species but not by others. The term vitamin does not include the other three groups of essential nutrients: minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. All of those are essential for the proper functioning of an organism.

Lack or deficiency in vitamins can lead to many diseases and in children can impair proper development. Since nowadays everything is done in such a hurry, like everything else, we spend less time cooking and more time eating processed foods or ready meal, and we don’t seem to consider whether they have the right amounts of vitamins in our diet.

One very important vitamin is vitamin B12 

B12 is important for everyone, but it is very important in menopause as well. I started supplementing on this vitamin because it’s very difficult to get this through food, and as a vegan, even more so. I rarely get the chance to eat Vitamin B12 so I have to take supplements. Also during menopause women can become deficient of vitamin B12 and this can be linked to insomnia (on top of other symptoms). Women experiencing menopause could consider stocking up on foods on their diets that contain B12 since it’s an essential nutrient that your body can’t make on its own, so you need to get it from your diet or you have to take supplements. It is recommended that women over 50 need 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 every day. Vegetarians, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and others at high risk of deficiency may want to track their diets closely to make sure they’re getting enough. This water-soluble vitamin has many important functions in your body. It’s necessary to an healthy nervous system and supporting the production red blood cells, as well as maintaining normal brain function. Vitamin B12 is usually absorbed in the stomach with the help of a protein called gastric intrinsic factor. This substance is able to bind to the vitamin B12 molecule thus facilitating its absorption into your blood and cells. Your body stores excess vitamin B12 in the liver, so if you consume more than you need, your body will save it for future use for a certain amount of time.

It is recommended that women over 50 need 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 each day.

You may also develop a vitamin B12 deficiency if your body does not produce enough intrinsic factor, or if you don’t eat enough vitamin-B12-rich foods. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products, especially meat and dairy products. Luckily for those on vegans diets, fortified foods can be good sources of this vitamin too.

Here is a list of some healthy foods that are very high in vitamin B12 (if you are not vegan):

Clams, sardines, fortified cereals, tuna, fortified nutritional yeast, trout and salmon, fortified not dairy milk, milk and dairy, eggs.

If, like me, you are vegan, you need to supplement vitamin B12 in some way. You can get it from fortified bread, cereal, milks or Nutritional Yeast, just make sure you are getting enough. On top of that, the vitamin B12 in supplements is synthetically made, so it’s vegan-friendly. Vitamin B12 supplements can be found in many different forms. Of course the most known at the moment is my Meno Blend, which if you haven’t tried and if you feel you are in need you may want to try it. You can take B12 via different routes such as swallow, chew, drink or inject them, or place them under your tongue. Research has shown that different routes of intake of vitamin B12, i.e. either oral and muscular injection are equally effective at restoring vitamin B12 to normal levels in people who are deficient in the vitamin. However, you have to remember that not all vitamin B12 deficiencies are caused by inadequate or insufficient dietary intake. It is sometimes caused by lack of gastric intrinsic factor. Lack of gastric intrinsic factor is most common in older people and it can be associated with an autoimmune disease known as pernicious anemia. The most common treatment for pernicious anemia is to have lifelong vitamin B12 injections.

Below a list of some of the function of vitamin B12:

  • bone health
  • DNA production
  • neurological function
  • creating red blood cells

Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency are vague and can include:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • balance problems
  • depression
  • confusion
  • dementia