Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of our eight essential water-soluble vitamins. It contains the rare element cobalt. Cyanocobalamin, the type of B12 used in Organika’s Vitamin B12, is one of the four near-identical chemical forms of cobalamin and is used to prevent and treat vitamin deficiency. Once absorbed, it’s converted into the physiological active forms.
Used in every cell in the body, B12 is a cofactor in DNA synthesis and the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids. Here are some of its other vital roles.
Vitamin B12 is required:
- For cell and DNA replication
- To form red blood cells
- In the normal function of the immune system
- In nutrient and energy metabolism
- In the synthesis of myelin sheath that insulates our nerves
- For dopamine, serotonin and melatonin production
- In the production of DHEA and other steroid hormones
Ideally, we would get enough cobalamin from our diet. B12 is produced by certain bacteria and archaea, either in the guts of animals or on the roots of plants (this source always gets lost before our plates, as we wash off the dirt). Our only food source then is animal foods. This makes it near impossible for vegans to get it naturally in their diet (and quite challenging for vegetarians to get enough), without the use of fortified foods and supplements.
Compared to our other essential vitamins, B12 is very large and complex. This makes it more challenging to digest and absorb into the body. It requires binding to a protein complex called ‘intrinsic factor’ to get it through our digestive tract lining. This intrinsic factor is produced in the stomach, when stomach acid is being produced efficiently. Many people can become deficient in B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor and proper absorption. So many of us are deficient in stomach acid due to chronic stress, poor eating hygiene (eating on-the-go, etc.), dehydration and a natural decline with aging. The use of long-term antacid therapy, proton-pump inhibitors and H2 blockers all suppress stomach acid and therefore intrinsic factor. Absorptive issues like ulcerative colitis or leaky gut, gastric bypass surgery, stomach ulcers and alcoholism can all contribute to B12 deficiencies.
Unfortunately, deficiencies of B12 are quite common, and may show as pernicious anemia, fatigue, lethargy, diarrhea, depression, mania, psychosis, poor memory and concentration and numbness and tingling of the limbs. Folate and cobalamin deficiencies show as many of the same symptoms, since these two Bs work together synergistically. A deficiency in one may be confused with the other. Often folate and B12 are taken together to ensure the balance is kept intact.