Vitamin B12 is unusual in its origin.
Almost all vitamins can be extracted from a variety of specific plants or animals, but no plant or animal is capable of producing vitamin B12. The exclusive source of this vitamin, according to current evidence, is tiny microorganisms: bacteria, yeasts, molds and algae.
Since vitamin B12 cannot be produced by animals or plants, its content in animals and plants depends on their ability to store the vitamin or on their association with microorganisms (such as soil bacteria). Because of their ability to store vitamin B12, animals contain more of the vitamin than plants.
A very good source of vitamin B12 is: calf liver, sardines, sagebrush, venison, shrimp, scallops, salmon, chinook salmon, beef tenderloin, lamb loin, cod, halibut, yogurt, cow’s milk, egg.
In the plant world, sources of vitamin B12 are marine plants (e.g. kelp), algae (e.g. blue-green algae), yeast (e.g. brewer’s yeast) and fermented plant foods (e.g. tempeh, miso or tofu).
Vitamin B12 is fairly well preserved by cooking. For example, about 70% of vitamin B12 is retained in beef after frying for 45 minutes at 180ºC. Approximately 70% of B12 is retained in cow’s milk after 2-5 minutes of boiling. The retention of vitamin B12 in plant foods, such as tempeh, a fermented soybean food, has not been well studied.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most controversial members of the B-complex family. Although the complete chemical structure of vitamin B12 was not discovered until the 1960s, two Nobel Prizes have already been awarded for research related to this vitamin. The first Nobel Prize in 1934 was awarded for the discovery that food (particularly liver, a very rich source of vitamin B12) could be used to treat pernicious anemia (inability of the blood to carry oxygen). The second prize, thirty years later, is awarded to chemists for the discovery of the exact chemical structure of this important vitamin.
The main benefit of this vitamin is its hematopoietic function, which aids in the development of red blood cells. The beneficial properties of cobalamin in the formation of nerve fibers are also invaluable. Vitamin B12 also has a significant effect on the metabolism and movement of lipids and carbohydrates in the body.
Let us now look at the functions in more detail:
The best known function of vitamin B12 is the development of red blood cells. During maturation, red blood cells need genetic information in the form of DNA. Without B12, DNA synthesis fails. The cells become oversized and malformed and consequently begin to function inefficiently. This condition is called the pernicious anemia condition.
It also contributes to the accumulation of red blood cells in sulfur-containing compounds.
The second major task of vitamin B12 is its involvement in the development of nerve fibers. The myelin sheath, which coats neurons, forms less successfully in vitamin B12 deficiency. Although the vitamin plays an indirect role in this process, efficacy in relieving pain and other symptoms of nervous system disorders has been observed with vitamin B12 supplementation.The emotional and cognitive functions of the brain require adequate amounts of vitamin B12.
Therefore, dementia, depression and mental confusion, especially in the elderly, can be avoided if this vitamin is not deficient.
Proteins, a necessary component for cell growth and repair, depend on vitamin B12. Amino acids, a key component of proteins, become unavailable in the absence of B12. Helps with acute and chronic hypoxia by forcing cells to absorb more oxygen. It helps the body to accumulate proteins, supply hydrogen to necessary organs and initiate methionine synthesis.
Together with other B vitamins, such as B6 and folic acid, B12 can neutralize homocysteine, which can cause strokes and cardiovascular problems.
Very useful for the elderly, as senile dementia and mental confusion are removed from vitamin B12.
Without sufficient vitamin, the body becomes vulnerable to viruses. That is why, for example, viral hepatitis is treated in conjunction with vitamin B12. It has also been shown that when this vitamin is deficient in AIDS patients, the disease progresses twice as fast.
This is why it is prescribed to people diagnosed with AIDS:
- the body becomes stronger and able to resist various diseases;
- mental activity does not decline, i.e. the person does not lose the ability to think.