Will my body digest vitamin B12? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Will my body digest vitamin B12?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • For those who worry about whether or not they’re getting the correct amount of B12 in their diets, supplements, and vitamins can be used.
  • Absorption of vitamin B12 happens in the small intestine.
  • There are several reasons vitamin B12 might not be absorbed properly.

Vitamin B12 is the most complex of all vitamins as well as the largest.

From food sources, vitamin B12 connects to proteins and only releases when there is a proper amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can happen; it’s important to take preventative measures and make sure you are getting the Recommended Daily/Dietary Allowance (RDA).

For those who worry about whether or not they’re getting the correct amount of B12 in their diets, supplements, and vitamins can be used.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some people use B12 injections to lose weight. People who successfully use vitamin B12 injections say they have increased energy and that it boosts their metabolism. However, this seems to only be advantageous to those people with deficiencies in vitamin B12.

Aside from ensuring that you have the proper amount of B12 in your body, it is important to also ensure that you exercise regularly. For access to workout routines that can be done from anywhere, sign up for an Exercise.com PRO plan today.

How Does the Body Ingest B12 Vitamins?

Vitamin B12 binds to glycoproteins from the stomach and salivary glands. By doing this vitamin B12 is protected from chemical breakdowns in the gastrointestinal organs.

Absorption of vitamin B12 happens in the small intestine. The amount of vitamin B12 that is absorbed is about 10 mg/dose. Once absorbed, vitamin B12 is transferred to plasma-transport proteins and is received by targeted cells.

Regardless of the dosage of vitamin B12, passive diffusion can account for at least 1% of vitamin B12 absorption.  Once absorbed, approximately 60% of vitamin B12 is stored in the liver. One mg of vitamin B12 is found in most healthy adults with 20-30 mg found in the heart, brain, spleen, and kidneys.

The total amount of vitamin B12 vitamin in a healthy individual’s body ranges between 0.6 and 3.9 mg. The plasma concentration of vitamin B12 is 150-750 pg/ml and these levels can peak around 8-12 hours after ingestion.

What Are Some Reasons Vitamin B12 Might Not Absorb Properly?

There are several reasons vitamin B12 might not be absorbed properly. A lack of intrinsic factor, which needs to be present during the active process in the small intestines, can result in malabsorption.

While deficiency usually has nothing to do with insufficient dietary intake there are some severe consequences to those who have trouble taking up vitamin B12. Some of the other causes of deficiencies could occur in people with the following:

  • Patients on long-term treatment with certain drugs and older people with gastric atrophy
  • Those with pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease)
  • Patients who had a gastrectomy
  • Patients who ingested corrosive agents that destroyed the gastric mucosa
  • Patients with small bowel lesions – bacterial overgrowth from this may lead to competitive utilization of available vitamin
  • Patients with pancreatic insufficiencies
  • Patients who suffer from alcohol abuse – vitamin B12 intake and absorption is reduced
  • Patients who suffer from AIDS also have risks of vitamin B12 deficiencies

Even though diet is usually not the reason for deficiency, it can sometimes occur in those people who are vegans. A high intake of fiber has been known to worsen an already imbalanced vitamin diet. Those who are vegetarians should use a vitamin B12 supplement.

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What Happens If You Have a B12 Deficiency?

There can be some serious side effects with vitamin B12 deficiencies. It can lead to defective DNA synthesis in cells. This, in turn, affects the repair and growth of cells. This can then lead to megaloblastic anemia and neuropathy. Some of the symptoms of that are the following:

  • Weakness
  • Glossitis
  • Loss of appetite, impotence
  • Irritability
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Mild depression
  • Memory impairment
  • Hallucinations

Vitamin B12 deficiency has also been known to lead to hyperhomocysteinemia which is a possible risk factor to an even more dangerous disease called occlusive vascular disease.

Many of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are similar to folic acid deficiency. The difference between the two is that vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with spinal cord degeneration. While folic acid has been used to treat vitamin B12 deficiencies it will not relieve the damage that has been done to the nervous system.

Vitamin B12 has no toxicity and there have been no studies that prove you can overdose with vitamin B12. That being said it is beneficial for those who are concerned about deficiencies in vitamin B12 to seek help from your doctor.

While ingesting vitamin B12 through food sources and keeping a well-balanced diet it’s also important to participate in physical activities. Keeping your body in shape and your diet well balanced can only help you in the long run.

For an exercise routine to pair with your healthy diet, go PRO today.

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