Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is an important vitamin in the B group. This vitamin is essential for cell division as it interacts in the DNA replication process.
Foods that contain it
This vitamin can be found in foods of animal origin, especially in viscera, such as liver, meat, eggs and milk.
Despite being contained in foods of animal origin, the real source of vitamin B12 is the bacteria that are part of the intestinal flora. From there, it is absorbed and incorporated into tissues and becomes the main source for human beings.
There are only two plant foods that provide vitamin B12, nori algae and chlorella. In them, the vitamin is produced by bacteria that live in their roots.
It is absorbed by a complex mechanism
When ingesting food, this vitamin is isolated by the effect of stomach enzymes. Once in its free form, it can bind to a molecule produced by stomach cells called intrinsic factor, which is an essential process for its absorption through the small intestine.
In the blood, cobalamin travels along with a transporter molecule that takes it to the tissues where it will be used, mainly the bone marrow and liver. Vitamin B12
Manifestations of deficiency in the body
Its lack is manifested by the failure to produce cells that need frequent exchange, as occurs with blood cells, especially red blood cells.
Cobalamin deficit produces a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia. When the deficiency is not due to the contribution of the vitamin, but to the lack of intrinsic factor production, or the inability of the intestine to absorb the intrinsic factor vitamin complex (due to the removal of a portion of the stomach or intestine as a consequence of surgery ), the disorder known as pernicious anemia occurs. Vitamin B12
Another system through which symptoms of lack of this vitamin occur is related to the central nervous system. There, memory disorders and even the onset of dementia are manifested . In this case, the manifestations are a product of the alteration in the formation of the membranes that line the nerve extensions, called myelin sheaths.
Causes of disability
Currently, one of the main causes of this nutrient deficiency is the adoption of a vegan diet, a style of eating that suppresses all animal foods, including eggs, milk and their derivatives, the only sources of this vitamin. . For this reason, vegans need to be given cobalamin supplements.
Other causes of deficiency are genetic alterations that lead to non-production of intrinsic factor, abdominal surgeries in which the resection of the fundus of the stomach or the end of the small intestine is performed, as well as the use of drugs such as metformin and inhibitors of production of gastric acids such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole or pantoprazole.