Sure, you know that they’re GOOD for you – do you really know what a vitamin is?
How many there are?
And what each one does?
You should, because vitamins are the key to every single little function in your body.
Now, we’re not going to bore you with a long lecture about the huge number of vitamins and their different roles in the body.
We’d be here all day!
We’re going to tell you about just one vitamin – the one that’s absolutely crucial for preserving your memory.
One that most of us are deficient in – but don’t realize it.
And that’s Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 – also known as cobalamin – has a huge variety of functions in the body.
Your body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out all sorts of other jobs.
Vitamin B12 is needed to maintain the layers of tissue, called the myelin sheath, that insulates each nerve cell.
A lack of B12 can significantly impair the nervous system, affecting how you think, feel and act.
Symptoms may manifest as irritability, apathy, confusion, forgetfulness – or even depression, paranoia and/or hallucinations.
As a water-soluble vitamin, B12 can’t be stored or made in the body, so we have to obtain it from food or supplements.
The average American adult (aged 14+) needs about 2.4 micrograms of B12 per day.
That doesn’t sound like much, right?
But most of us don’t get anywhere near enough!
There are two reasons for this.
One is that most people don’t eat enough B12-containing foods.
Foods rich in B12 are mainly animal products – eggs, liver, poultry, milk, and fish.
Vegetarians are especially at risk here.
The other reason is that many people can’t absorb B12 in their gut due to the complex process involved.
To be absorbed, B12 must first be broken down by intrinsic factor: a type of glycoprotein secreted by your stomach’s parietal cells.
Only then is it able to be carried into the small intestine and moved through the body with the help of other proteins.
Only around 56% of a 1 mcg oral dose of B12 is absorbed.
Absorption decreases even further when an intrinsic factor is lacking.
If your stomach doesn’t make enough intrinsic factor, you can’t absorb B12 efficiently.
If you have any sort of digestive problems, or you take medication, it’s highly likely that your B12 absorption will be affected.
Those at risk of deficiency include the elderly, those taking metformin or heartburn medication, vegans, or those who have had surgery on their bowel.
Another cause of B12 deficiency is pernicious anemia: a disorder in which the body does not produce enough intrinsic factor.
This is common among people with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency might not show for several years, which makes it difficult to diagnose. In some cases, B12 deficiency can be mistaken for a folate deficiency.