THE IMPORTANCE OF VITAMIN B12
Once again, we’re back to vitamins. As some of you noticed, this was the hot topic of the last blog, but just for the sake of learning, let’s dive into this once again. Why you ask? Well, just like in the case of vitamin C, it was recently discovered through laboratory testing that (at least Mountaindrop) Shilajit contains vitamin B12. We previously thought that it contains only vitamin B1-B9 so believes when we tell you, that it was a very nice surprise. You probably know enough about Shilajit by now that it does not need a special introduction, so let’s focus on the star of this blog. So, why is B12 so essential to us, and why does it deserve a separate blog? Let’s find out together.
WHERE DOES IT BELONG?
Well, it goes with other water-soluble vitamins. For everybody who is not so familiar with this term, we divide vitamins whether they’re soluble in fat or water. Fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K, and water-soluble are B vitamins — folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 — and vitamin C. Since we’re talking about water-soluble vitamins, let’s just focus on these. So, unlike fat-soluble vitamins, these don’t get stored in the body. Once they enter your bloodstream, anything that doesn’t get used is discarded through your urinary system. In essence, this makes regular ingestion of these vitamins much more important.
ITS ROLE IN OUR BODY
Of the 8 B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12), collectively called the B complex, vitamin B12 is structurally the largest and most complex.
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin consists of so-called vitamins, in the center of which we find a cobalt atom (Co). Due to the size and complexity of the vitamins themselves, vitamin B12 is one of the most complex vitamins, and cobalt also adds a good portion to the molecular weight of the vitamin. There are very few organisms in nature that are at all able to synthesize such a complex molecule as cobalamin.
All vitamins are scientifically well-researched substances. Studies of the functions of vitamin B12 have shown that it is present primarily in the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids. This feature helps the body provide the necessary energy. It also plays a vital role in helping your body produce red blood cells. Low levels cause a reduction in their formation and prevent them from developing properly, which could lead to anemia.
One study in more than 2,500 adults showed that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency also had lower than normal bone mineral density. Bones with decreased mineral density can become delicate and fragile over time, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Other studies have also shown a link between low vitamin B12 levels and poor bone health and osteoporosis, especially in women.
Vitamin B12 has been found to be particularly important for the normal functioning of the nervous system due to its role in myelin synthesis. The vitamin may play a role in preventing brain atrophy, which is the loss of neurons in the brain and is often associated with memory loss or dementia. Another study found that even vitamin B12 levels on the low side of normal can contribute to poor memory performance. As a result, supplementing with this vitamin may improve memory, even in the absence of a clinically diagnosed deficiency.
Lastly, It also acts as a cofactor in the synthesis of DNA, which occurs in every cell of our body. It ensures the structural stability of important regions of the chromosomes such as the centromeres and the subtelomeric DNA. As we can see, it affects very different and diverse areas when we have enough of it.
WHAT IF WE DON’T GET ENOUGH OF IT?
Deficiency can be achieved relatively quickly and can have dire consequences for our overall health. Symptoms of even a minor vitamin B12 deficiency can include fatigue, depression, headaches, poor memory, and a general lack of energy. Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are especially common in the elderly (over 60 years of age), as they are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B12. With a moderate deficiency, neurological problems can already occur, which can be felt as tingling in the extremities. Inflammation of the tongue may also occur.
However, severe vitamin B12 deficiency can affect suboptimal heart function, and major neurological problems can start occurring, such as decreased muscle function and memory problems. Research has also shown an impact of B12 deficiency on fertility, and in younger children, this type of deficiency can affect development.
It is important to remember that vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products. Animal sources include dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry. It is bound to the proteins in our food and is un-bound with the help of hydrochloric acid and enzymes. With age, it can become harder to absorb this vitamin. It can also happen if you have had weight loss surgery or another operation that removed part of your stomach or if you drink heavily. Vegans are also much more likely to experience a deficiency, but luckily, many supplements are available on the market.
So, there is something to learn in all of this. A regular healthy diet that consists of all the necessary food groups (within our beliefs) is essential not only for the short-term but also for long-term health. While Shilajit does not contain the whole amount of vitamin B12 needed daily, it can help achieve that level. This is why Shilajit is and forever will be a substance that can bring much-needed balance into our lives. Just don’t forget about a healthy diet, which is a foundation of good health.
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