Vitamin B12: truth and myth

On the deficiency of vitamin B12 in the body of vegetarians and its consequences, more than one article has been built with arguments in favor of meat-eating. Of course, this vitamin plays an essential role in the functioning of the nervous system, digestion, synthesis of fats and carbohydrates, and cell division, finally. And it is found mainly in meat products and offal. But does the rejection of them really entail its deficiency and the most serious consequences for the body in the form of visual impairment, constant headaches and anemia? It turns out that this question can be answered unequivocally, but only after understanding everything.

What you need to know about vitamin B12

In complex chemical terms, this is the general name for two variants of the cobalamin molecule, in other words, substances that contain cobalt. Hence the name given to him by doctors – cyanocobalamin. True, the people often call him “red vitamin“By analogy with the sources of this substance for the body – the liver and kidneys of animals.

Vitamin B12 was first discussed in 1934, when 3 talented Harvard doctors, George Maycot, George Will and William Parry Murphy, received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of its medicinal properties. A little later it was found that it is also one of the most stable vitamins, which is perfectly preserved in food even under the influence of high temperatures, during cooking, for example. Although it must be admitted that it is afraid of light and water, nevertheless, over time, it can accumulate in certain organs of our body – the kidneys, lungs, spleen and liver. It is thanks to this that the first signs of a lack of vitamin B12 in the diet do not appear immediately, but after 2 – 3 years. Moreover, in this case, we are talking not only about vegetarians, but also about meat eaters.


What is its role

Do not relax after learning about the body’s ability to accumulate vitamin B12. Simply because you can check its actual level in one and only way, which boils down to passing a special analysis. And it’s good if he shows that everything is in order, because traditionally this vitamin performs several important functions:

  • prevents the development and decrease of immunity due to the active production of red blood cells in the bone marrow and maintaining the optimal level of hemoglobin in the blood;
  • regulates the work of the hematopoietic organs;
  • responsible for the health of the reproductive organs of both sexes;
  • affects the synthesis of proteins, fats and carbohydrates;
  • increases oxygen consumption by cells in the event of hypoxia;
  • promotes enhanced bone growth;
  • is responsible for the vital activity of the cells of the spinal cord and, therefore, for the development of muscles;
  • maintains an optimal level;
  • improves the condition of the scalp and hair and prevents dandruff;
  • affects the functioning of the nervous system. Therefore, the well-coordinated work of all organs, including the brain, and the general well-being of a person depends on him. In this case, we are talking about the absence of sleep disorders, irritability, forgetfulness, chronic fatigue.

Consumption rates

Ideally, 09 ng / ml of vitamin B12 should be present in the blood. For this, according to the recommendations of our doctors, the average person needs no less than 3 mcg of this vitamin per day. Moreover, the figure can increase with intense sports, pregnancy and breastfeeding. The child needs a little less – up to 2 mcg per day. At the same time, Germany and some other countries have their own views on the daily requirement for vitamin B12. They are sure that only 2,4 μg of the substance is enough for an adult. But be that as it may, its role is invaluable, so making sure that it enters the body is extremely important. How can a vegetarian do this? Myths swarm around this question.

Vitamin B12 myths

Vitamin B12 is considered to be one of the most controversial. Indeed, if the above information is almost never disputed by both theorists and practitioners, then the methods of obtaining it, the place of assimilation, the main sources, finally, are fully discussed. Everyone’s point of view is different, but the truth, as practice suggests, is somewhere in between. But first things first.

  • Myth 1… You need to constantly consume foods with vitamin B12 in order to never know what its deficiency is.

Few people know that the development of vitamin deficiency in the case of vitamin B12 can take 20 years. And the point here is not in the existing reserves of the body, but in the natural process, which doctors call enterohepatic circulation. This is when vitamin B12 is excreted in the bile and then reabsorbed by the body. Moreover, in this case, its amount can reach 10 mcg per day. What’s more, this process provides some vegans and vegetarians with more vitamin B12 than when it comes from food. Summing up all of the above, it is worth noting that vitamin deficiency can occur in 2 – 3 years not due to refusal from food with vitamin B12, but due to a failure in enterohepatic circulation. And all would be fine, only the next myth emerges from this.

  • Myth 2… Vitamin B12 is not needed, since enterohepatic circulation works perfectly in the body

This statement is erroneous simply because other factors also influence the process described above, namely: the amount of calcium, protein and cobalt that enter the body with food, and the state of the intestines. Moreover, you can only make sure that everything is in order by regularly passing the appropriate tests.

  • Myth 3… Vitamin B12, which is produced in the stomach and intestines, is not absorbed

According to Dr. Virginia Vetrano, this myth was born many years ago, when scientists were convinced that this substance was synthesized too low in the intestines, as a result of which it could not be absorbed. Subsequently, it was successfully dispelled by conducting appropriate research and proving the opposite. The paradox is that more than 20 years have passed since then. The results of those studies were published in several scientific publications, for example, in the book “Human Anatomy and Physiology” by Marieb, but the myth, which today is nothing more than an outdated scientific theory, continues to exist.

  • Myth 4… Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products

This statement is not true for one simple reason: there are no foods in the world that already contain vitamin B12. Simply because vitamin B12 is the result of the absorption of cobalt by the body. It is produced in the small intestine by intestinal bacteria. Moreover, Dr. Vetrano claims that active coenzymes of the controversial vitamin are found in the oral cavity, around the teeth and tonsils, and in the folds at the base of the tongue, and in the nasopharynx, and in the upper bronchi. This makes it possible to conclude that the absorption of coenzymes B12 can occur not only in the small intestine, but also in the bronchi, esophagus, throat, mouth, along the entire gastrointestinal tract, finally.

In addition, vitamin B12 coenzymes have been found in and, some types of greens, fruits and vegetables. And if you believe the Complete Book of Rhodal vitamins, they are also found in other products. Judge for yourself: “B-complex of vitamins is called a complex, because it is a combination of related vitamins, which are usually found in the same products.”

  • Myth 5… Vitamin B12 deficiency can only be found in vegetarians

The basis for the birth of this myth, of course, is their rejection of meat. Nevertheless, according to Dr. Vetrano, this statement is nothing more than a marketing ploy. The fact is that vitamin B12 supplied with food can be assimilated only after combining with a special enzyme – the Internal factor, or Castle’s factor. The latter is ideally present in gastric secretions. Accordingly, if for some reason it is not found there, the suction process will not occur. And it doesn’t matter how many foods with its content were eaten. In addition, the absorption process is likely to be affected by antibiotics, which can be found not only in medicines, but also in milk and meat. As well as alcohol or cigarette smoke, if a person abuses alcohol or smokes, frequent stressful situations.

Do not forget that vitamin B12 has one drawback – it can be destroyed in excessively acidic or alkaline conditions. This means that hydrochloric acid, which enters the stomach to digest meat, can also destroy it. In addition, if you add putrefactive bacteria here, which, appearing in the intestines of a carnivore, destroy the beneficial ones, you can get a picture of a damaged intestine that is unable to perform its direct functions, including the absorption of vitamin B12.

  • Myth 6… Every vegetarian should take vitamin complexes containing vitamin B12 to prevent its deficiency.

Indeed, it is possible to solve the problem of beriberi, if it already exists and this has been proven by clinical tests, with the help of special pills. Keep in mind, however, that they are made from deeply fermented bacteria. In other words, this kind of vitamin cocktail is useful in the short term. In the future, it will be necessary to get to the bottom of it and understand why the body is deficient in vitamin B12 and what needs to be done in order to return everything to square one.

  • Myth 7… If vitamin B12 deficiency is suspected, you need to reconsider your views on nutrition and return to meat.

This statement is partly correct. Simply because in the event of any malfunction in the body, something needs to be changed. Of course, this must be done only under the guidance of a qualified doctor who can establish the exact cause of the problem and choose the most correct way to solve it. In the end, any vitamins, trace elements or even hormones work in combination. This means that sometimes in order to make up for the lack of one of them, you need to reduce the amount of the other, or even start fasting.

instead of an epilogue

There have always been enough controversies and myths around vitamin B12. But it was not conflicting scientific theories that caused them, but rather a lack of reliable information. And studies of the human body and the influence of all kinds of substances on it have always been and are still being conducted. This means that disputes have always been and will appear. But don’t be upset. After all, very little is needed for health and happiness: to lead a correct lifestyle, carefully think over your diet and listen to yourself, reinforcing the confidence that everything is in order with the results of the appropriate tests!

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