Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of the water-soluble B vitamins. It gets its name from the presence of a cobalt atom in its structure. In terms of composition, vitamin B12 is a highly complex ring system containing the so-called corrin responsible for coordination of cobalt, an alkaline group, sugar and an aminopropanol group.
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the functioning of the human body. It is a cofactor required for the proper work of two enzymes involved in the metabolism of higher order animals: L-methylmalonyl-Co-A mutase and methionine synthase. Thanks to the presence of vitamin B12 in the first of the aforementioned enzymes, it is possible to convert metabolites of amino acids, such as valine, isoleucine, methionine, or threonine, into substrates that enter the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. In turn, TCA cycle plays a key role in the synthesis of organic compounds (such as hemoglobin). Moreover, vitamin B12, as a component of methionine synthase, is involved in the production of methionine – this is an amino acid that, undergoing further transformations, becomes an extremely important donor of methyl groups in the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins. The presence of vitamin B12 in the metabolic pathways discussed above enables, among other things, the production of red blood cells, neurotransmitters and myelin sheaths of nerve cells.
The human body is not capable of producing vitamin B12 on its own. Cobalamin can only be synthesized by microorganisms, such as bacteria. In addition, despite having a rich microbial flora in the digestive tract, humans do not obtain vitamin B12 from intestinal bacteria. This results in the necessity to supply this component with food (Stabler and Allen, 2004). Therefore, it is worth including foods that are good sources of vitamin B12 in the daily diet, such as meat (especially liver), shellfish, fish and dairy products. In addition to foods naturally rich in vitamin B12, a number of foods, including breakfast cereals, for example, are fortified with it. As a result, most people who follow a healthy varied diet are not at risk of deficiency of this vitamin. The situation is somewhat different for vegans who are more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiencies due to its lack in plant foods (Rizzo et al., 2016). Other groups particularly susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiencies include: the elderly, over the age of 50, in whom cobalamin absorption is limited due to impaired gastric acid secretion; people taking medications that interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.
It is important to remember that vitamin B12 deficiency in humans results not only from the lack of this vitamin in the diet. Malabsorption disorders as well as genetic disorders linked to the nutrient uptake and distribution system are also responsible for its deficiency (Froese and Gravel, 2010; Gherasim, Lofgren and Banerjee, 2013; Watkins and Rosenblatt, 2013).
Initially, excessively low level of cobalamin in the body manifests as fatigue, weakness, balance disorders, memory problems and mouth and tongue pain. If the first symptoms are ignored, it leads to a severe deficiency of this vitamin, with multiple symptoms resulting mainly from metabolic problems of the enzymes mentioned earlier. At this stage, patients may experience megaloblastic anemia, neurological problems, cardiovascular problems or methylmalonic acidosis, among others.
Therefore, it is important to supply sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 with the diet and, if necessary, its adequate supplementation. The daily requirement for vitamin B12 is not high (Stabler & Allen, 2004). RDA (recommended daily allowance) is about 2.5 μg / day. Dietary supplements available on the market usually contain doses of vitamin B12 well above the aforementioned daily requirement. However, you should not be afraid of overdosing, as the human body has a good tolerance to vitamin B12 even in high doses. This may be due to the low absorption of vitamin B12 after oral administration.
In conclusion, vitamin B12 is an extremely important ingredient that ensures regulation of the human body functioning by participating in metabolic pathways responsible for protein production, among other things. Although the daily requirement for vitamin B12 in humans is not high, its deficiency should be avoided. Ignoring the initial symptoms associated with cobalamin deficiency can lead to very serious health problems, such as megaloblastic anemia. Therefore, it is advisable to supplement your daily diet with products rich in vitamin B12 and, if necessary, take appropriate supplementation.
Advantic offers the following raw materials containing vitamin B12:
– Methylcobalamin 98%
– Cyanocobalamin 98%
– Methylcobalamin 1% on a carrier (maltodextrin)
– Cyanocobalamin 0.1% on a carrier (maltodextrin)
Advantic also offers the possibility of adjusting the concentration of vitamin B12 according to customers’ needs and dosage in the finished product
- S. P. Stabler, MD; Vitamin B12; ILSI 2020; 257-261
- A. D. Smith, M. J. Warren, H. Refsum; Vitamin B12; Adv. Food Nutr. Res 2018; 222-224
- W. Pałasiewicz, P. K. Tuszyński; Witaminy i składniki mineralne, Wydawnictwo Farmaceutyczne; 57-60