Vitamins are essential nutrients, necessary for the proper functioning of our body. They can be subdivided into the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and the water-soluble vitamin C and all B vitamins.
Vitamin B12 is exceptional in this list because, like the other B vitamins, it is water-soluble, but just like the fat-soluble vitamins, it does have a supply in the body. That stock is sufficient for a minimum of 3 years and sometimes even 10 years.
If that supply runs out, the blood value will fall and the shortage will arise. A vitamin B12 deficiency does not arise overnight, and is not resolved in a short time.
Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. In the center of vitamin B12 is a metal: cobalt, hence the name cobalamin. The natural forms of vitamin B12 that occur in our diet are: methyl, hydroxy and adenosyl cobalamin.
Vitamin B12 is made by microorganisms. Humans can produce vitamin B12 through the microorganisms in the intestine, but this happens in a part of the intestines where it can no longer be absorbed. We are therefore dependent on vitamin B12 in your diet. Vitamin B12 is only found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy. People who do not eat animal products run the risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency and they may reduse the risk by using vitamin vitamin patches.
Vitamin B12 is essential for all kinds of systems in the body, including the health of the nervous system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal system. If there is not enough vitamin B12 present in the body, because it is not absorbed properly or because too little comes in, these systems will start to work less well, with all sorts of problems and complaints as a result.
Systems affected by a B12 deficiency:
- Nervous system
- Hematological system: blood, bone marrow and blood clotting
- Immune system
- Cardiovascular system
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Movement system: muscles, tendons and bones
Urogenital system: urinary tract and sexual organs
Because vitamin B12 affects so many systems in the body, everyone else is deficient. While one person suffers from fatigue, tingling, memory loss and muscle cramps, another has problems concentrating, an inflamed tongue, menstrual problems and depression. There are, however, a number of complaints that occur more frequently, such as: fatigue, psychological problems, neurological complaints, an inflamed or thick tongue, feeling cold and loss of appetite.
There are many causes for vitamin B12 deficiency.
These can be divided into 4 categories: reduced intake (no / too few animal products in the diet), impaired intake (B12 is not absorbed by the body), congenital metabolism disorders, and other causes, such as certain medicines. It is also possible that multiple causes are present next to each other in one person. Some causes are fairly easy to find, in other cases it can be very difficult. A number of causes can be treated, so that the absorption of vitamin B12 can be restored. This may be the case, for example, with celiac disease, the gastric bacterium helicobacter and the presence of parasites in the intestines. However, most causes cannot be cured, which means that permanent treatment is necessary.