Many of you, who might have had a look at health check-up packages, might have seen that almost all such packages have tests for Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. I already written about vitamin D in a previous article. Here I am going to focus on Vitamin B12.
What is Vitamin B12
It is a water- soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin or cyanocobalamin, and is very important for normal functioning of brain and the central nervous system. It works closely with folic acid and helps in the formation of red blood cells. Folic acid and B12 also work together to form a compound which is involved in immune function and mood. It also helps in the production of DNA and RNA, body's genetic material. Vitamin B12 along with Folic acid and vitamin B6, control the levels of homocysteine, which in high levels can cause heart diseases. Therefore it is a vital nutrient, the deficiency of which will invite a lot of diseases.
Since Vitamin B12 also assists in the metabolism of protein and fat, it has been found to be important for body building. Bodybuilding requires the amino acids resulting from protein metabolism to repair and build muscles, and fat for energy. But if the person is not deficient in Vitamin B12, then taking extra doses than recommended will not improve the energy levels or the workouts.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a fairly common condition but is usually undiagnosed due to lack of enough classic symptoms but yet there are some signs and symptoms which one can look out for.
Reasons of Deficiency
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Image courtesy of (Lamb: James Barker; Fish: Dan; Eggs: amenic181; Museli and fruit: joephotostudio; Milk: John Kasawa) at freedigitalphotos.net
In case one is detected with deficiency, supplementation will be required along with food sources. For certain cases which are not diet related deficiency, vitamin B12 injections may be given. Please follow the doctor's advice for supplementation. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate.
Recent research from Ohio State University, suggests that long term use of high doses of vitamin B6 and B12 is related to higher risk of lung cancer in men relative to non-users. This risk was higher in male smokers than non- smokers. More research is underway to see if the results can be replicated. https://cancer.osu.edu/news-and-media/news/long-term-high-dose-vitamin-b6-b12-use-associated-with-increased-lung-cancer-risk-among-men
Remember that this is only for high doses and long-term use. Do not panic the moment you are given this supplement by your physician. Because deficiency will require supplementation along with the right kind of food.