What is Cobalamine?

Rolando Braza

Cobalamine is an important water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in the formation of red blood cells and in preventing a person from becoming anemic. It also ensures that the nervous system and the brain are functioning properly. Microorganisms, mainly bacteria, are the producers of cobalamine. Industrially, cobalamine production may be done solely through bacterial fermentation synthesis.

Mecobalamin tablets, which contain a type of cobalamine.
Mecobalamin tablets, which contain a type of cobalamine.

There are many forms of cobalamine, also known as vitamin B12, and these include hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and cyanocobalamin. Hydroxocobalamin is used tor the treatment of cyanide poisoning in addition to its function as a vitamin. Methylcobalamin, on the other hand, is administered as a preliminary medication for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy and peripheral neuropathy. Cyanocobalamin is the form of B12 responsible for metabolizing fat and lowering blood cholesterol. Whatever form B12 takes, cobalt, a biochemically rare element, is a common content.

The stock of B12 in the body is good for several years, making deficiency a rare occurrence. A person must, however, have himself checked when a B12 deficiency symptom is experienced. The symptoms include heart palpitations, memory problems, and weakness, among others.

Two stomach disorders may cause the vitamin deficiency. The first is a stomach inflammation and irritation that can halt the cells from producing intrinsic factor (IF). IF is a substance needed to take in B12 to the body’s cells from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The other disorder is the insufficient discharge of stomach acids required to separate B12 from protein in the food in order for B12 to be released from the GI tract and be absorbed by the body’s cells. A person is also more likely to be deficient in B12 if he or she is a vegetarian or an alcoholic.

A person must eat food rich in B12 to follow the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) by government health authorities in order to avoid deficiency of this vitamin. Foods originating from animals and plants are natural sources of B12. Animals are, however, better sources of B12 because they have greater capability to absorb this vitamin. Some of the animal-sourced food is liver, cheese, and meat.

B12 supplements are available for a person who eats less meat or who is a vegetarian or an alcoholic and cannot meet the RDA. These supplements may be taken orally, under the tongue, or as an intramuscular injection. A person must consult a doctor or nutritionist for proper guidance in addressing his or her B12 deficiency.

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