Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin of the body that is water soluble. It is found in various food supplements such as meat, eggs, dairy products and fish. Vitamin B12 is commonly used in conjunction with other essential vitamins in what is commonly known as a vitamin B complex formulation. Vitamin B12 is very important in the synthesis of DNA which determines the physiological characteristics and functions of different organs in the body of all organisms. Vitamin B12 binds to proteins in food and after it gets to the stomach, it is dissociated from the proteins by stomach acids as digestion proceeds. In the small intestines, vitamin B12 combines with an Intrinsic Factor which facilitates its absorption into the bloodstream.
Low levels of Vitamin B12 in a healthy individual is very rare because the liver stores vitamin B12 in its tissues that are several years worth of use. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in HIV positive patients, the elderly and strict vegetarians. Low levels of vitamin B12 in the body can result in a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells in the system. This will eventually cause some symptoms of anaemia which can include; a fever, excessive sweating, soreness and weakness on the arms and legs. The lack of an intrinsic factor in a patient’s body consequently limits the individual’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 into their system which causes a megaloblastic type of anaemia known as pernicious anaemia. Luckily, this type of anaemia can easily be suppressed and managed by the administration of vitamin B12 supplements.
The Historical Background Of Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 has a captivating history which comprises of up to a decade of research. It was one of the last vitamins to be discovered. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is required to maintain healthy red blood cells, to manufacture DNA and to maintain healthy nerve cells. It was first discovered as a cure for pernicious anaemia which is a condition that results from its deficiency.
Until the 1920’s, pernicious anaemia was a fatal medical condition. It is a disorder in which the red blood cells in the body do not develop normally which results in a steady decline in the number of these cells that can lead to adverse complications. This disease was first described in 1849 by an English physician known as Thomas Addison. He noted that some typical symptoms of this condition included obesity and gaining of weight rather than losing weight and an increasing weakening of the body.
The group of scientists who played an important role in discovering and isolating vitamin B12 and the causes and cures for pernicious anaemia are;
Dr Newcastle who discovered that administering regurgitated gastric juices to patients caused an improvement from the symptoms of this disease. He stumbled upon this discovery as he was looking for a cure for pernicious anaemia.
Dr George Whipples later conducted some studies that concluded that beef liver had the ability to improve the formation and production of red blood cells in anaemic dogs. He thereafter recommended 1/2 a pound of raw liver juice to his patients daily as a treatment for this condition.
George Minot and William Murphy are two researchers who won a Nobel price for discovering the cure to pernicious anaemia. These two scientists set out to establish the curative aspects of raw liver juice. They discovered that these curative properties came from the liver tissues.
Edwin Cohn later created an extract from liver tissues that was fundamentally more potent than raw liver juice.
American Researcher Karl A Folkers and a British researcher Alexander R Todd simultaneously discovered, isolated, and named cobalamin(vitamin B12) in 1948.
Finally, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin used crystallographic data and more sophisticated technology to determine the molecular structure of vitamin B12. This made it possible to produce this vitamin in very large quantities by 1950. She also won a Nobel peace prize in medicine for her work.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency.
If your body cannot absorb vitamin B12 efficiently into your system because of a number of complications, you are likely to acquire pernicious anaemia which is a decrease in the number of red blood cells. Various studies have also shown that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to additional abnormal symptoms like low blood pressure, vision problems, dementia, an abnormal condition of the brain and mind(psychoses), lack of bladder and bowel control(incontinence), Stiff or rigid muscles, muscle weakness, shaky movements and an unsteady gait. These symptoms and conditions can be treated and suppressed by the administration of vitamin B12 either by mouth or by injection or inhalation.
There are various other conditions which are thought to be related to Vitamin B12 deficiency but their research still remains inconclusive. Most of these conditions have shown a substantial improvement with the supplementation and administration of vitamin B12. Some include; angioplasty, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, claudication, cervical cancer, mental performance, sickle cell and sleep disorders.
Sources And Treatments of Vitamin B12 deficiencies.
Vitamin B12 facilitates the production of healthy red blood cells in the body. It is abundantly available in animal foods and yeast extracts. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is easily dissolved and stored in the liver. So the animal liver is a very good source of this vitamin. It is eliminated from the body averagely after around 24-72 hours from consumption. Due to its rapid metabolic rates, cases of vitamin B12 deficiency require periodic monitoring and administration of this medication through various means that will ensure that the patients have the right quantities of this vitamin in their system at all times.
As an individual gets older, their ability to absorb vitamin B12 through digestion decreases substantially. The scary fact is that most grown-ups are totally unable to absorb this vitamin into their system. In such cases, intramuscular injections provide a direct solution for administering a concentrated dose of this vitamin to such patients. Intramuscular injections are the established method of solving a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A routinely maintained administration of about 1 mg of vitamin B12 injections in a month can help to lower homocysteine levels in the blood. This reduces the chances of heart diseases or a stroke. Cobalamin also transmits anti-stress agents all over the body which enable it to act as a stimulant or an energizer when used.
For any additional information on various doses and administration of this medication, fell free to consult us at any time.