What is Vitamin B12, C & D?
Vitamin B-12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many functions in the body, including:
- DNA synthesis
- energy production
- nerve cell health
- red blood cell formation
- neurological function
B-12 is present in many food sources (mainly animal-based), where it is bound to the protein molecules in that food.
Vitamin B-12 is separated from the protein during digestion and is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Adequate stomach acid is required to release the vitamin from the protein, and a substance called intrinsic factor is necessary to ensure its absorption.
People who are unable to absorb vitamin B-12 properly may have pernicious anaemia, which is a type of anaemia characterized by a lack of intrinsic factors.
The average daily intake of vitamin B-12, as recommended by the Office of Dietary Supplements, is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) for men and women over 14. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require slightly more, at 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg, respectively.
Vitamin C cannot be made by the human body, therefore, is an essential component of the diet. Persistent lack of vitamin C in the diet can lead to a condition called scurvy.
Vitamin C is needed to make a substance called collagen which is required for the health and repair of various tissues in the body, including:
- Ligaments and tendons
- Blood vessel walls
Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables naturally and has been fortified into other foods such as cereals.
Vitamin D is like all vitamins, essential for our health and well-being. It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are vital in keeping parts of the body healthy, such as:
Vitamin D is present within the sunlight and minimal foods such as oily fish and egg yolks. Can be fortified into other food products such as some cereals.
At worst, a vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Most cases have little to no symptoms at all.
A study in the UK has shown that 1 in 5 children and adults have low vitamin D, this number increases during Autumn and spring due to less sunlight in the weather.
Vitamin D deficiency can be diagnosed with a blood test looking into the vitamin D levels and can be treated either by oral medication or an injection which typically lasts up to 6 months.