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Vitamin B12 and Your Family Health

Posted Dec 05 2010 3:39am

< p>Vitamin B12 is part of the B vitamin group. Food sources for vitamin B12 are meat, eggs and dairy products. Almost no vegetables contain vitamin B12 with the exception of some algae.

What it serves for!

Vitamin B12 has a major function in the red blood cells production and the maintenance of the nervous system. This vitamin contributes to the rapid cellular division and the synthesis of DNA. Adults and children need this vitamin just as much. As for the aid it provides to the nervous system, vitamin B12 helps to the metabolism of fatty acids, which play a crucial role to the maintenance of myelin.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Only small amounts of vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver, but not more. The bile excretes and reabsorbs it into a circuit that is known as enterohepatic circulation. If there is not enough of this vitamin in your diet, you can develop neurological problems or anemia, although such health problems appear after very long periods of time and aggravated deficiency.

Deficiencies are more common with vegans and vegetarians and symptoms may include anemia with excessive tiredness, poor immune function, pallor, menstrual disorders and breathlessness. Prolonged deficiency of vitamin B12 can also lead to permanent neurological damage.

Balance your diet!

You’ll have no imbalance in the body if your diet  contains enough dairy products, eggs and meat. Nevertheless, mention must be made that yogurt fermentation or milk boiling could destroy this vitamin. There is not enough evidence for the way spirulina can compensate for vitamin B12.

There are studies that suggest that spirulina contains B12 analogues, which are compounds with a similar structure to B12. Scientists can’t be sure whether these analogues are good or bad, but some of these substances may compete with the real vitamin B12 and interfere with its metabolism. This means that on the long run, a B12 vegetal product could do more harm than good.

Special mentions!

Even if you consume algae like spirulina to compensate for the lack of vitamin B12 from your diet, it may not be enough. Get foods that are fortified in this respect. Fortification applies to extracts, soya milks, breakfast cereals, vegetable and sunflower margarines.

Pregnant women do not have special needs for vitamin B12, while nursing mothers require a higher daily intake because of the lactation. There is no toxicity associated with higher vitamin B12 intakes.

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