Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Vitamin B12 exists in several forms and contains the mineral cobalt so compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively called “cobalamins”. Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 that are active in human metabolism.
Vitamin B12 helps in improving your mood, energy level, memory, heart, skin, hair, digestion and other body functions. Vitamin B12 is also an essential vitamin for addressing adrenal fatigue, multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance — and maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse. It helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells, and is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system. It aids in the metabolism of the body. But B12 isn’t like other vitamins. It’s only found in animal products like eggs, meat, shellfish, and dairy. Up to 15% of people don’t get enough B12, and they’re more likely to be vegetarians, have celiac disease or other digestion problems, or be an adult over 50. The signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include exhaustion, rapid heartbeat, brain fog, and other symptoms.
As a person ages, the stomach produces less acid, and stomach acid is key for B12 absorption. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 31 adults over 50 are deficient. Older individuals also often have poorer appetites and food intakes, and they may be on medications (such as heartburn meds) that can further reduce stomach acid levels. In fact, some seniors actually lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food at all, and must get it via supplements or, if the deficiency is severe, injections.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency may be caused in a person who may be a vegan (meaning he/she don’t eat any animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) or a vegetarian who doesn’t eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs. Babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also not get enough vitamin B12. Vegans can take supplements containing vitamin B12 or eat vitamin B12-fortified grains. The risk of B12 deficiency also increases with age.
Major causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
As per WebMD, the major causes for Vitamin B12 deficiency are:
- Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
- Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
- Surgery that removed part of your stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery
- Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
- Heavy drinking
- Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus
- Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs. Stomach acids help break down animal proteins that have vitamin B12.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may progress and cause symptoms such as:
- Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- A smooth tongue
- Constipation, diarrhea, a loss of appetite, or gas
- Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
- Vision loss
- Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes
- Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
- Inability to concentrate well
Recommended Intakes of Vitamin B12
According to National Institutes of health the daily intake of Vitamin B12 is as follows:
|0–6 months||0.4 mcg||0.4 mcg||–||–|
|7–12 months||0.5 mcg||0.5 mcg||–||–|
|1–3 years||0.9 mcg||0.9 mcg||–||–|
|4–8 years||1.2 mcg||1.2 mcg||–||–|
|9–13 years||1.8 mcg||1.8 mcg||–||–|
|14+ years||2.4 mcg||2.4 mcg||2.6 mcg||2.8 mcg|
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 May Protect Against Certain Cancers
Vitamin B12 helps specifically with certain cancers, both preventing them from occurring and helping to treat it if it’s already there. The cancers it has been associated with helping include prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancer among others.
Vitamin B12 Helps Maintain Energy Levels
Vitamin B12 benefits your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into useable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, so this is the reason why people with vitamin B12 deficiencies often experience fatigue. Vitamin B12 is also needed for neurotransmitter signaling that helps your muscles contract and gives you energy to go about your day without feeling tired and run down.
Vitamin B12 Prevents Memory Loss and Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
A vitamin B12 deficiency may cause various neurologic and psychiatric disturbances. Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 benefits cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Vitamin B12 Helps in Digestion
Due to its role in helping with digestive enzyme production, vitamin B12 is needed to support a healthy metabolism and the breakdown of foods within the stomach. One of the ways that vitamin B12 benefits digestion? It helps foster healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract — and simultaneously the presence of beneficial bacteria — is what prevents digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) or Candida.
Vitamin B12 Helps in Reducing Depression
Many vitamins including Vitamin D have been said to help with depression, and Vitamin B-12 is no different. This is such an important reason to make sure that all of your vitamins are at optimal levels.
Vitamin B12 Promotes Healthy Skin
Vitamin B-12 provides great benefit to the skin, helping to repair skin cells and keep your skin looking its best. Getting the right mix of B vitamins can help conditions ranging from dryness and redness to acne and other blemishes.
Vitamin B12 Makes Hair Healthier
Vitamin B12 is often added to hair products because of its ability to add shine and a healthy look. Eating more eggs, chicken, and various seafood as a way to have higher levels of B12.
Vitamin B12 Plays a Role in Maintaining Heart Health
Vitamin B12 benefits cardiovascular health in several ways, which is important considering the fact that heart disease is currently the number one cause of death worldwide. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid and its levels in the blood are influenced by blood levels of B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 helps to protect against heart disease like a heart attack or stroke by lowering high homocysteine levels in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels. B vitamins are also able to control atherosclerotic diseases, in which someone experiences a dangerous build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Vitamin B12 May Help With Cholesterol
By helping to keep your cholesterol levels down, Vitamin B12 may be able to reduce your need for cholesterol lowering drugs. If your doctor has told you that you’re low on this nutrient, they may have also given you a list of foods that contain extra amounts of B12 for you to start eating more of.
Vitamin B12 May Help To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Vitamin B-12 has been specifically credited for helping to treat and also prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or are worried about coming down with it in your later years, it’s a great idea to start eating more foods that contain ample amounts of this B vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy
Vitamin B12 is needed to create nucleic acid, or DNA — the basic genetic material that’s used to create the entire body. Therefore, vitamin B12 is not only a key nutrient for growth and development, but a vital component of a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 also interacts with folate in the body, so it may help lower the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.
Vitamin B12 Helps in Producing Red Blood Cells and Prevent Anemia
Vitamin B12 is needed to help produce a healthy level of red blood cells. It helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness.
Vitamin B12 Boosts Mood and Helps the Nervous System to Properly Function
One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folate, is needed as a major determinant of one-carbon metabolism, which produces the compound called SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). SAM is crucial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation. Vitamin B12 is needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning, so a vitamin B12 deficiency can result in difficulty focusing and an increased risk for attention disorders.
Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 for Vegetarians
Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 for Vegans
Foods Rich in Vitamin B12
Some of the foods rich in Vitamin B12 are listed below.