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What Is Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) and What's It For?

What Is Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) and What's It For?

Over the last couple of months, we have been featuring in this space a series on the various B-complex vitamins. Now we come to what might be the most complex of the B vitamins when you consider all the significant roles it plays in maintaining and, as needed, improving our health.

Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin also known as cobalamin, does a bang-up job guarding the health of our nerves and red blood cells while fulfilling its role of making sure numerous body processes operate efficiently, per newsmax.com. There are two main types of cobalamin, cyanocobalmin and methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is readily available for use by the body and is the form of B12 active in the central nervous system. Cyanocobalamin must be converted by the liver into the methyl version before the body can use it. Cyanocobalamin is the more common and cheaper version to produce and is frequently what's found in vitamins and supplements. The WonderLabs vitamin B12 products below all contain the methylcobalamin variation and with sublingual delivery where noted to assist with the absorption when taken orally.

Like other water-soluble vitamins that don’t get stored in our bodily reserves, B12 must be replenished regularly, although the liver can store enough reserves to last a while. However, vitamin B12 supplements pretty much are required for various groups of B12-deficient people, such as the elderly, pregnant or breast-feeding women, vegetarians, and heavy drinkers and smokers.

A deficiency of cobalamin could also be the result of problems in the digestive system in which the B12 isn’t being absorbed sufficiently, possibly because of anemia, celiac disease, a parasite, Crohn’s disease, or a growth of bacteria in the small intestine. In such cases, a B12 supplement might be called for.

Possible Symptoms of a B12 Deficiency

As rare as B12 deficiencies are, any of the following symptoms could be a sign that you don’t have enough B12 present and working in your body:

  • Anemia
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low sperm count
  • Memory problems
  • Mouth soreness
  • Nausea
  • Swollen tongue
  • Vision issues
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Vitamin B12 Sources

OK, so none of those sound particularly appealing. So, it’s time to eat up. Plenty of B12-enriched foods are available to suit almost any palate, per organicfacts.net, starting with:

  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Lamb’s kidney
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Yogurt

Health Benefits from B12

Vitamin B12/methylcobalamin offers a wide range of health benefits. Here are 10 of the health-related areas in which B12 can bolster our health. Be sure to consult with a physician or nutritionist first, though, before making any changes to your regimen that involve increasing your intake of B12:

  • Anemia - This is an energy-sapping condition that has been linked in part to a B12 deficiency. Increase the consumption of B12, therefore, and the anemia stands a good chance of being resolved.
  • Alzheimer’s disease - With its purported ability to lower homocysteine levels while also being involved in the manufacture of the neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine, B12, per dailyhealthlifestyles.com, is believed to be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s.
  • Birth defects - Per dailynaturalremedies.com, studies have linked insufficient consumption of vitamin B12 during pregnancy to birth of a child with Down’s syndrome. B12 is a requisite for the production and synthesis of DNA in cells.
  • Cell repair - Put simply, the formation, repair, and maintenance of red blood cells are almost totally dependent on B12, per organicfacts.net.
  • Fatigue - A consistently sufficient consumption of B12 will bolster our stamina and reduce the presence of fatigue. Even mowing the yard, with a push mower no less, now becomes a snap! Having trouble staying awake during the workday? Vitamin B12 can help in that regard by boosting the production of red blood cells. Now get back to work!
  • Heart health - There are several ways in which B12 can help stave off heart disease, but perhaps the most crucial may be in how it can reduce the level of homocysteine, which has been found to play a major role in heart disease, per dailyhealthlifestyles.com. In fact, a high homocysteine level is now being regarded as a better indicator of potential heart disease than cholesterol readings. By the way, B12 can also lower cholesterol levels.
  • Hepatitis C - B12’s immune-boosting properties can enhance the treatment of hepatitis C patients. Studies have shown heightened response rates in terms of the body’s inhibiting the hepatitis C virus during the usage of B12 supplements, per dailynaturalremedies.com.
  • Insomnia - Vitamin B12 is a key ingredient in the production of melatonin, which is the hormone chiefly responsible for relaxing our body, making sleep possible.
  • Muscle tone - As we age, we tend to gradually lose muscle, but B12 can help counter that through how it contributes to the metabolism of protein, which is needed for all our body’s cells, especially cells that comprise our muscles. A sufficient amount of B12 helps our body in the process of breaking down dietary protein into amino acids before putting them back together to renew and repair muscles.
  • Weight issues - Always having an ample supply of B12 in your body will keep your metabolism kicked into high gear, making sure consumed food gets efficiently processed and production of energy maxed out. Otherwise, you’re looking at overeating and likely weight gain.

* Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. WonderLabs always recommends reviewing any nutritional supplement changes with your primary medical provider.

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