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Vitamin B12 Cobalamin Part 2Because the best sources of Vitamin B12 are animal products, it is difficult for vegetarians to get enough of this vitamin without taking supplements. Therefore, vegetarians and vegans should speak with a physician about supplementing, especially concerning children that consume a vegetarian diet. Not only is B12 critical to memory and learning, but there have also been documented cases in which B12 deficiency stunted childrenís growth.
Something to keep in mind regarding Vitamin B12 is that this vitaminís performance is dependent on adequate supplies of other B vitamins, as well as something called intrinsic factor, which is a substance produced in the stomach to help with B12 absorption. A deficiency in other B vitamins or intrinsic factor will keep this vitamin from doing its job. For this reason, it makes perfect sense to take a Vitamin B complex supplement that also includes B12.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency include tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, moodiness and depression, insomnia, memory loss, dizziness, poor balance, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, dizziness, drowsiness, enlargement of the liver, eye disorders, hallucinations, headaches, inflammation of the tongue, labored breathing, memory loss, neurological damage, palpitations, and ringing in the ears.
The elderly are at risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, because they are able to absorb less vitamin B12 as they age. In fact, some symptoms of senility may be the result of damage to the nervous system caused by a lack of cobalamin. Unfortunately, these symptoms of senility could be permanent if they are not quickly diagnosed and treated. In addition, elderly women with vitamin B12 deficiency are twice as likely to suffer from severe depression. In fact, the elderly may need up to 1,000 micrograms each day to maintain healthy nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems.
Other people at risk for B12 deficiency include vegetarians, smokers, and those suffering from digestive disorders. Those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery or had part of their stomach removed may not be able to manufacture enough intrinsic factor to help absorb vitamin B12. In addition, anticoagulant drugs and prescription medications used to treat heartburn, ulcers, or gout; potassium supplements; and large doses of vitamin C make it hard for the body to absorb vitamin B12. If you are taking any of these medications or supplements, ask your doctor about taking a B-complex supplement.
Taking supplemental Vitamin B12 is very safe. There have been no reports of toxic reactions in those exceeding the RDA and, in fact, it is almost impossible to overdose on B12 since the excess is simply excreted. However, it is important to note that large doses of vitamin C can actually destroy cobalamin. Therefore, you should not ingest these supplements at the same time.
B12 comes in a wide variety of forms, including oral supplements, sublingual (absorbed under the tongue) supplements, and a nasal gel. Both sublingual supplements and nasal gel are available at health food stores, and allow B12 to be absorbed straight into the bloodstream. Vitamin B12 injections and prescription-strength vitamin B12 are also an option, but must be taken under doctor supervision.
Return to Vitamin B12 Cobalamin, part 1
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