Smorgasbord Health Column – B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) – Cell health, DNA and Sleep

We are now coming to the end of the B vitamins and I hope that you will have found them an interesting group of nutrients that are so essential to our health both physically and mentally.

You will find the other B vitamin posts in the Health Column Directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

B12 is no exception and certainly for those of us in our 60s it is one of the vitamins we need to make sure we are taking in sufficient amounts in our food. Since B12 is primarily in eggs, dairy products and offal it is restrictive, especially as so many ‘experts’ tell you to stop eating them because of the impact on your cholesterol levels and waistline. I disabused that myth in the series on cholesterol which is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies and necessary for some pretty major operations such as brain function.

I am in the process of updating the cholesterol posts with the latest research and will be reposting them in coming weeks.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) is an essential water-soluble vitamin but unlike other water soluble vitamins that are normally excreted in urine very quickly, B12 accumulates and gets stored in the liver (around 80%), kidney and body tissues.

  • B12 is vital for the efficient working of every cell in the body especially those with a rapid turnover as it prevents cell degeneration.
  • It functions as a methyl donor and works with folic acid in the manufacture of DNA and red blood cells.
  • B12 is necessary to maintain the health of the insulating sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds all nerve cells.
  • It is involved in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for resetting our biological clock’s rhythm when we change to new time zones, and also helps us sleep.

What can result from a deficiency of B12?

The most common disease associated with B12 deficiency is Pernicious Anaemia, which is characterised by large, immature red blood cells. Blood Health and Anaemia

But other diseases and medical conditions associated with a lack of this vitamin are;

  • Allergies,
  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • Asthma,
  • Cancer,
  • Depression,
  • AIDS,
  • Low blood pressure,
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • Tinnitus
  • Low sperm counts.

How do we become deficient in B12?

We actually do not need a huge amount of the vitamin per day, around 2 micrograms or 2 millionth of a gram. The problem is that it is not particularly well absorbed by the body so larger amounts are needed in the diet to supply the amount we need. Absorption of B12 requires the secretion from the cells lining the stomach of a glycoprotein, known as the intrinsic factor. The B12-intrinsic factor is then absorbed into the ileum (part of the small intestine) with calcium.

  • One of the issues regarding deficiencies is that many people have turned away from the richest sources of B12 because they believe either that they are harmful, fattening or will raise levels of cholesterol. Liver, kidneys and eggs have not enjoyed wonderful press over the last few years and many people have also reduced the amount of cheese they eat believing that it is fattening.
  • Plant sources of B12 are virtually non-existent and many long term and dedicated vegetarians have been found to be deficient.
  • Over use of antacids, inflammation of the stomach lining (Helicobacter pylori infection) and pancreatic problems can also lead to deficiency as the secretion of the intrinsic factor is compromised.
  • There is some evidence that women with breast cancer have lower levels of B12 and there are indications that women after menopause with very low levels were more likely to develop the disease. It is not clear if the deficiency is caused by the cancer in the body or the other way around.
  • Some drugs have inhibited the uptake of B12 such as those prescribed for diabetes and ulcers and there is a great deal of research into these interactions.
  • As we age our ability to process our foods becomes less effective with enzyme production reduced such as the secretion of the intrinsic factor necessary for B12 absorption. Added to the fact that many elderly people suffer from a lack of appetite and you have a higher risk of malnutrition.
  • An interesting piece of research proposes that it is possible that Vitamin E may protect the process of absorption of B12 by preventing oxidative damage to cell membranes. If so a deficiency in this vitamin may well affect our B12 levels.

What are the food sources for B12?

B12 is present in meats apart from offal, eggs and dairy products. It is better to drink a cold glass of milk than to eat yoghurt as the fermentation process destroys most of the B12 as does boiling milk.

There are very few sources, if any of B12 in plants, although some people do believe that eating fermented Soya products, sea weeds and algae will provide the vitamin. However analysis of these products shows that whilst some of them do contain B12 it is in the form of B12 analogues which are unable to be absorbed by the human body.

Eating foods containing Vitamin E may help the absorption process and the best sources for this are in nuts such as the walnuts, sunflower seeds, whole grains, eggs, spinach, apples, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, carrots, onions and oily fish.

Most cereals and breads today are fortified with B12 as are yeast extracts (marmite) and vegetarian products.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1999 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:  http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

You will find the other B vitamin posts in the Health Column Directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

 

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12 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) – Cell health, DNA and Sleep

  1. Thank you for this informative post, Sally. I was diagnosed with B12 deficiency following a routine blood test towards the end of last year. I was prescribed a course of 5 weekly injections of (I assume!) the intrinsic factor. I understand that I need to follow that up with boosters every 3 months – the first of these is due about now.

    Liked by 1 person

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