It is the vitamin that was discovered later (1948). Although the amount of vitamin B12 that the body needs is very small, this element is essential for the organism, given the importance in the smooth functioning. At first it was considered that the only role of vitamin B12 or cobalamin was the correct formation of red blood cells. Without this vitamin the body could not absorb the iron necessary for the formation of red blood cells, producing anemia .
It was found that this component was in the liver of cows. With the addition in the diet of liver, disappeared "Green Disease" or pernicious anemia, a disease which, before this discovery, it was very common, especially in older people and young women in the final years of the nineteenth and early XX. This disease usually appears at present only in older people. It's called "green sickness" because the skin of the affected people gets this color.
In addition to preventing anemia, cobalamin is also important for other parts of the body. Without it the brain, nervous system, heart, or our defenses do not work properly.
Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, where the body is taken as it is necessary. (The liver is able to store sufficient quantities of this component for a period of 3-5 years) are enzymes of digestion those who obtain it from food proteins with the participation of gastric juice and the need for a component called intrinsic factor. The decrease of intrinsic factor. or gastric juices (atrophic gastritis), which usually occurs usually Since 50 years, is responsible for the decrease of this vitamin, which requires special care to keep from falling into the diseases that can cause a deficiency.
Currently, the deficiency of this vitamin is quite common in older people, affecting 40% of people aged 80 years and 25% of those over 60 years.
Cobalamin (vitamin B12) properties
Where can cobalamin be found?
B12 vitamin can be obtained from the following sources:
Animal foods: One of the richest foods are clams. (Every gram of this seafood contains almost mcg (microgram) of cobalamin. The liver, brain and kidneys are the richest food after clams (85 gr. Beef liver contain 68 mcg. The same amount in liver chicken is 6.16 mcg) Some fish, like tuna, sardines, are rich enough (85 gr. of canned tuna provided the amount that an adult needs daily, which is about 2 mcg.). Other foods with lower amounts are meat, eggs, milk and its derivatives. Under normal conditions, diet, not vegan, provides the amount needed to not be deficient in this vitamin.
Plant foods: Plant foods contain very low amounts of this vitamin. Vegans (those who do not eat eggs or drink milk) should take supplements of cobalamin. A multivitamin is the amount needed for a strict vegetarian should not eat any additional amount. ) Lately you can find plant products fortified with this vitamin that may help prevent a deficit (the cereal fortified) Other products such as soybeans , the seeds of wheat , the brewer's yeast , algae and mushrooms do not contain the necessary amount especially for the elderly, children and young growing.
Supplements: The intake of vitamin B12 supplements may be needed in special circumstances where the diet may not meet individual needs. In this sense, it is recommended daily intake of 100-400 mcg in these situations:
Vitamin B12 special needs
- Seniors or people over 50 years: low production of intrinsic factor. or heartburn may be responsible for malabsorption of this vitamin from the age of 50.
- People who maintain a strict vegetarian diet. Vegetarians can take a few years to notice this deficiency as the body takes the amount it needs from the reserves of the liver.
- People who take medication for heartburn, gout, epilepsy, or potassium supplements.
- People who smoke: Tobacco is responsible for poor absorption of vitamins from group B.
- People with frequent diarrhea, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
- Pregnant or nursing women: Cobalamin is absorbed in part by the fetus or the baby and the mother needs an additional intake.
- People who have undergone stomach surgery, after which it is common to the body to produce little intrinsic factor.