Vitamin B12 is one of the b vitamins that are essential to maintain a healthy body. Otherwise known as Cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is needed for the processes needed to convert the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from food into energy. More importantly, it helps keep the red blood cells healthy and therefore prevents heart disease, as well as keeps the immune system functioning at its maximum level. In addition, Vitamin B12 is used to create the protective covering of all the nerve cells in the body.
The most important function of B12 is to form healthy red blood cells. However, all cells need B12 to keep them healthy. It is the white blood cells, amongst others, that need this vitamin to help ensure that the immune system is functioning properly. All of the nerve cells in the body also need this to form their protective fatty layers. This is essential for all of the nerves, but is especially important for those in the brain. If there is not sufficient amount of Vitamin B12 to create this protective layer, then the brain will not be functioning properly.
Interestingly, the amount of this vitamin that the body needs is relatively small, but is needed on a regular basis. However, B12 on its own is not enough as the body cannot absorb it easily. To help the body absorb it, the stomach produces an intrinsic factor which enables more of this vitamin to be absorbed. B12 is only found in animal foods such as liver, eggs, fish, and meat, but most people consume far more than their recommended daily amounts of Vitamin B12. This is not a problem as the body can only absorb about half of B12 that is consumed. It is also worth noting that the body can recycle this vitamin, which cuts down on the impact of a B12 deficiency. However, strict vegetarians or vegans are likely to require supplements if they do not eat any animal products that contain Vitamin B12.
If the body does not have enough Vitamin B12, then anaemia is the most obvious symptom. Obviously, this is due to the fact that there is not enough Vitamin B12 to make healthy red blood cells in the body. Anaemia can also be due to the possibility of the body not creating enough intrinsic factor to help absorb the vitamin that is taken in from the food consumed. The body tends to makes less intrinsic factor once a person reaches 50 and this will lead to less B12 being absorbed and supplements of may thus be required. Kids are also at risk from anaemia because they may not eat food that contains the vitamin. Pregnant women need more B12 because the baby is absorbing it during the pregnancy for the baby to grow properly.