Vitamin B12 for Dummies
Vitamin B 12 is a vitamin that is essential for normal growth and development and health. It acts as an enzyme to promote fat and carbohydrate metabolism and synthesize proteins. A healthy person should get all the B 12 they need from a balanced diet and shouldn’t have to take supplements. The best sources of B 12 are meat, fish, egg yolk and cheese. However, some people who suffer from conditions like pernicious anemia, people who have had bariatric surgery and vegans might need B 12 supplementation. The vitamin is water soluble, and it’s very difficult to take too much of it, as what the body doesn’t use is excreted.
The vitamin should be avoided if the person suffers from Leber’s disease, which is an atrophy of the optic nerve. They should also be careful if they have gout or heart disease and should consult their physician if they suffer from these conditions.
Interactions With Other Substances
Vitamin B 12 can interact with several drugs and other vitamins and minerals. Anticonvulsants and H2 antagonists decrease the absorption of B 12, as do neomycin and potassium. Vitamin C will destroy the vitamin if they’re taken at the same time, and so should be taken about two hours apart. Alcohol also decreases the absorption of B 12 and it’s not surprising that many alcoholics are deficient in it. Antibiotics may help the absorption of B 12 because too many harmful bacteria in the gut can interfere with the absorption of the vitamin. Nicotine also seems to interfere with the absorption of B 12.
Malabsorption and Benefits of B 12
Poor absorption of B 12 can lead to a form of anemia. This happens when a person’s stomach doesn’t secrete enough hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid separates B 12 from food and helps it bond to intrinsic factor, which is also secreted by the stomach. Without this, the vitamin can’t be absorbed properly. Vitamin B 12 anemia can lead to numbness and tingling in the arms or legs, depression and even psychosis. In elderly people it can actually mimic Alzheimer’s disease.
B 12 has also been shown to help children who suffer from asthma triggered by sulfites. The vitamin was given via injection in this case. Vitamin B 12 has also been helpful in easing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. It’s also helpful with acute and chronic hives, as well as inflammatory bowel disease. When used with a form of folic acid called tetrahydrofolate, it is effective against seborrheic dermatitis, a winter rash that presents as small red bumps and scales on the scalp, cheeks and skin folds.