Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is found in the proteins of a normal diet. The absorption process of vitamin B12 follows five complex steps entailing the pancreas, duodenum, gastric juices and saliva.
Very occasionally have instances been found of excess of vitamin B12 or cobalamin in the blood level beyond the recommended limit. This phenomenon is generally ascribed to excessive supplementation by consumption of energy drinks fortified with cobalamin, oral supplements or intramuscular injections. However, there are occasions when extreme levels of vitamin B12 are noticed which arise apparently from unexplained natural causes. In the absence of any proven reason it is assumed that this is the result of a malfunctioning metabolic process. The difficulty in B12 absorption lies in the thin dividing line between maximum absorptive capacity and the recommended daily allowance.
Generally adults past the age of 50 have a low ability to absorb vitamin B12 because of impaired absorptive capacity. This is because of the decrease in production of stomach acids required to assimilate the vitamin. Other problems relate to the chronic gastritis which interferes with the ability of the stomach lining to absorb it. Such cases have to rely on supplements and fortified food to meet the recommended requirement. Alternatively the proper level of vitamin B12 is obtained through oral supplements or B12 injections.
It is believed that vitamin B12 has a very low ability to become toxic. According to the Institute of Medicine, ‘no adverse effects have been associated with excess vitamin B12 intake from food and supplements’. Because of the lack of adverse effects, no serious studies have been conducted in cases of excessive vitamin B12.
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