News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Vitamin B12 - An Undervalued Vitamin

Vitamin B12 is present in abundance in most people’s diets so generally the risk of having a deficiency is low.

“There are, however, some people who are at risk and would benefit from obtaining regular injections of a prophylactic dose of this vitamin,” says Tini Gruner, a Ph.D candidate in the Animal and Food Sciences Division at Lincoln University. “The injectable vitamin B12 is available from pharmacies without prescription and can be administered by nurses”.

The only source of vitamin B12 in the diet is from animal products, the richest source being liver. This vitamin is unique in that it needs to be linked to other proteins in the body to be absorbed and utilised. Therefore a deficiency can develop not only from a lack of vitamin B12 itself, but also from a lack of these proteins, says Ms Gruner. Vitamin B12 is required by the body as a coenzyme in energy metabolism and immunity reactions which do not proceed without the vitamin. Since the vitamin is stored in the liver a deficiency in the diet may take several years to develop.

Signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include a shortened stride when walking, lowered resistance to disease, lack of energy, anaemia, and ultimately, irreversible neurological damage (such as in dementia).

“People who would benefit most from such injections,” said Ms Gruner, “are:
 The elderly, especially if they already suffer from a neurological disorder such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia. An estimated 25 to 50 % of people over the age of 60 are thought to have some form of impaired vitamin B12 status,
 People who are taking antacids for indigestion, or who have had parts of their stomach or small intestines removed,
 Vegans,
 Those with active liver disease or liver damage or those who consume alcohol regularly,
 People with chronic pancreatic disease or cystic fibrosis,
 Those who have family members with pernicious anaemia or other vitamin B12 absorption problems. That means that their body does not absorb the vitamin B12 that is available.

“The injection is cheap and an easy-to-administer treatment that would help people to maintain life quality and well-being if it were more readily used, ” says Ms Gruner.

“Tests are available to measure the amount of vitamin B12 in the bloodstream but they at best can only give an indication of the recent intake. They do not tell if the body stores are depleted.”

In the last 10 years or so more sensitive tests have been developed but at present they are used only in research and science laboratories and are not yet generally available.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


NZ On Air TV Funding: More Comedy Comes Out Of The Shadows

Paranormal Event Response Unit is a series conceived by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as a TV spin-off from their highly acclaimed feature film What We Do In The Shadows. More>>


Mars News: Winners Announced For The 2016 Apra Silver Scroll Awards

Wellington singer-songwriter and internationally acclaimed musician Thomas Oliver has won the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award with his captivating love song ‘If I Move To Mars’. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Salt River Songs by Sam Hunt

Colin Hogg, a longtime comrade of Sam, writes in his Introduction that, ‘There is a lot of death in this collection of new poems by my friend Sam Hunt. It’s easier to count the poems here that don’t deal with the great destroyer than it is to point to the ones that do.’ More>>

Electronica: Restoring The World’s First Recorded Computer Music

University of Canterbury Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland and UC alumni and composer Jason Long have restored the earliest known recording of computer-generated music, created more than 65 years ago using programming techniques devised by Alan Turing. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Almost Getting Away With Murder

The Black Widow by Lee-Anne Cartier: Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. More>>

Howard Davis: Triple Echo - The Malevich/Reinhardt/Hotere Nexus

Howard Davis: The current juxtaposition of works by Ralph Hotere and Ad Reinhardt at Te Papa perfectly exemplifies Jean Michel Massing's preoccupation with the transmigration of imagery in a remarkable triple echo effect... More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news