Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 has been seen be an essential nutrient for the maintenance of energy and the proper functioning of the body. A detailed research into scholarly articles on the nutrients was used to determine the nutrient’s utility and the effect it may have n the body Sports persons. The nutrients seem to be necessary for the proper function of the body and vital to high performance on the field of play. Deficiencies of this vitamin can result in weakness and poor performance on the part of athletes and any normal person.

Introduction Vitamin B12 is a critical and essential component of the vitamin B complex and research has shown that it contains cobalt and hence it is also referred to as Cobalamin. It is entirely synthesized by bacteria and found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products, albeit, over the past few years, there has been substantial research to locate vitamin B12 in plant sources. Promising prospects such as seaweeds, fermented soya food and algae such as spirulina have all been said to contain significant B121.

However, the most reliable way of getting this essential vitamin is from animal protein. As a result, food prepared for many vegans are supplemented with Vitamin B12. This critical vitamin is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the nervous system, synthesis of red blood cells and growth and development in children. It is vital to human energy metabolism and the proper functioning of our livers, hearts, brains and kidneys and is considered to be a building block of DNA.

The absorption of Vitamin B12 requires a discharge from the cells lining the stomach of a glycoprotein, known as intrinsic factor. This vitaminB12-intrinsic factor complex is subsequently absorbed in the ileum, which is a part of the small intestine, in the presence of calcium. Clearly then, B12 is an essential nutrient for optimal health, performance, and well-being. Functions Vitamin B12’s most important functions are; the formation of red blood cells and the preservation of a healthy nervous system.

It is deemed vital for the rapid synthesis of DNA during the division of cells and this is particularly vital in tissues where cells are dividing quickly, especially areas such as bone marrow tissues that are responsible for the formation of red blood cells. Known as one of the most fascinating vitamins, B12 is also one of the most complex and its function in the operations of the human body is diverse. Vitamin B12 is found to nourish the outer covering of human nerves called the myelin sheath and thus promotes healthy conduction of energy through the entire nervous system.

This protection of nerve cells ultimately influences human capacity to hear, move, see, and think. Vitamin B12 is a red crystalline compound and assists us to metabolize carbohydrates, iron and fats and is required for good absorption and digestion of several other nutrients from food. Its capacity in assisting the formation of powerful chemical signal in our brains called acetylcholine, makes Vitamin B12 vital in supporting memory and learning capabilities. Small amounts of Vitamin B12 can be stored in the body and the total body storage is 2-5mg in adults of this, approximately 80% is stored in the liver1.

The Vitamin is excreted in the bile and is efficiently reabsorbed and this process is called enterohepatic circulation. The process of re-absorption is primarily responsible for the fact that it can take over 20 years for B12 deficiency disease to develop in people changing to diets absent in this vital nutrient. The quantity of vitamin B12 excreted in the bile can vary from 1 -10 micrograms a day. Vitamin B12 deficiency on the other hand is primarily due to a failure of the body to absorb the nutrient and so it requires only 3 years for the deficiency disease to show up.

Other Therapeutic uses In the past, Vitamin B12 have been prescribed in injectable form for persons with chronic fatigue syndrome and subsequently these patients showed outstandingly positive results of boosting energy levels. However, there is no evidence to support injections as being more effective than oral supplements and since many people dislike injection, they are not often prescribed by doctors today. Deficiency Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare in healthy persons who eat a balanced diet. This balanced diet means that there is an adequate amount of meats as a source of protein.

Persons such as Vegetarians do not eat the primary source of the nutrient: meat, and therefore are more prone to experience deficiency. There exist explicit circumstances which enormously raise the risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency and these include pernicious anemia, a situation where the human body fails to manufacture sufficient amounts of a protein enzyme that is required to absorb B12. Other widespread, albeit, treatable incidence of Vitamin B12 deficiency occur as a result of a reduction in absorption rates of B12 associated with growing older.

Elderly people are often prone to experience deficiency as they may not be eating enough nutritious foods to meet their daily needs. These older persons need supplement of B12 to ensure that they do not experience deficiency symptoms. Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include; a reduced red blood cell count resulting in a corollary decreased in energy levels and a propensity to be easily exhausted, shortness of breath and paleness of the skin.

Other problems associated with B12 deficiency are; neurological injury and this include tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, accompanied by cognitive impairment, moodiness, inability to concentrate, irritability, depression and memory lapses. The incident of B12 deficiency causes a disruption in DNA production and creates abnormal cells known as megaloblasts resulting in anemia. The resulting symptoms include listlessness, pallor, extreme tiredness, breathlessness and poor resistance to infections. Other symptoms may include a smooth, sore tongue and even menstrual disorders.

Recommended Daily Amounts The Recommended Daily Amounts (RDA’s) or Reference Nutrient intake (RNI) for Vitamin B12 is 6 mcg. It has been surmised by doctors that expectant mothers do not require any extra B12 but this assumption has not been proven. On the other hand, a lactating mother needs extra vitamin B12 to make sure that she has an ample supply of breast milk. Toxicity Vitamin B12 has very low toxicity and therefore a high dosage is not thought to be dangerous. Athletes use of Vitamin B12 Historically, Vitamin B12 has been held in high regard for its alleged capability to increase energy.

An athlete’s body needs consistent high energy since it is often depleted by intense workouts and dietary modifications. The vitamin provides a vital source of essential nutrient to fuel intensive training and rigorous competition. Athletes and Football players are two groups of persons who would benefit most from Vitamin B12 supplement as the nutrient enhances energy and endurance on the field. The nutrient plays a vital part in the production of energy by assisting the body to more efficiently use protein, fats and carbohydrates and athletes and football players engage in activities that tax the body to its limit.

The nutrient also helps to keep the player nervous system healthy and aids in the formation of red blood cells. These together help the player to operate at peak of condition and ensure that he has the stamina to compete effectively. It has been found by researchers at Oregon State University that athletes who lack B-vitamins have depleted performance when doing high-intensity exercises and they are less able to repair injured muscles or build muscle mass than their colleagues who consume a diet rich in B-vitamins. This study results were published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism4.

The researcher subjects were athletes and results show that even a minute vitamin B deficiency can result in reduced performance and recovery. They also noted that individual B-vitamin requirements vary and this might depend on the type and the amount of nutrients lost through sweat and urine, intensity of exercise and individual differences in diet. Interestingly, the researchers found that USRDA (United States Recommended Daily Allowance) for B-vitamin intake might be inadequate for athletes. This indicates that the nutrient is essential for peak performance.

Use of the Vitamin is said to be an insurance against energy loss and fatigue. The nutrient seems to be able to assist athletes to perform high energy exercises and may prove vital in helping them in shape when competing. There is no absolute evidence to show that vitamin B12 increases performance, but its use seems to be vital to the health and well being of people and so it may be best if athletes take the supplement to remain in good health.


1. Vegetarian Society. 2009. Vitamin B12: Information Sheet. Available at: http://www. html Accessed April 9, 2009. 2. Quinn, Elizabeth. About. com. 2006. B-Vitamins and athletic Performance. Available at: http://sportsmedicine. about. com/od/sportsnutrition/a/B_Vitamins. htm Accessed April 9, 2009. 3. Nutros. com. Vitamin B12: Essential Micronutrient. Available at: http://www. nutros. com/nsr-0202b. html Accessed April 9, 2009. 4. BodyBuilding. com Nutrition for Athletes: B-Vitamin and Athletic Performance. Available at: http://nutrition-for-athletes. com/b-vitamins-and-athletic-performance/ accessed April 9, 2009.

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