Recently, vitamin B12 supplements have hit the shelves. You’ve likely seen chewing gum and capsules in the aisles of local grocery stores and pharmacies. Now is the time to ask, what is all the hype about this essential nutrient?

In this article, we’re going to give you a brief overview of what vitamin B12 exactly is and some of the health benefits of this nutrient.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. It’s used for red blood cell formation, nerve function, and DNA production, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic states that deficiency in B12 vitamins is relatively rare because your body can store it for several years. However, a low-meat diet, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, can increase the risk of deficiency. In addition, older people are more likely to be deficient in B vitamins.

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, mood disorders (such as depression and confusion) and memory problems. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet.

Main sources of B12

According to the Mayo Clinic, animal-based foods like poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products are the best sources of B12 vitamins. B12 is added to some foods during processing. Fortified breakfast cereals or some over-the-counter yeasts are two examples of this phenomenon.

People who strictly adhere to it, since vitamin B12 is mainly of animal origin.Vegetarian or vegan diet It can be difficult to meet these nutritional needs. In these cases, vitamin B12 can be supplemented. Two common ways to supplement B12 outside of the diet are oral supplements or injections.

Seven Health Benefits Of Vitamin B12

Here are the health benefits supported by the seven sciences of vitamin B12.

1. Reduce the risk of anemia

According to the Mayo Clinic, anemia is a condition in which your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. This means that the blood cannot deliver oxygen to all parts of the body and can cause symptoms such as tiredness, cold limbs, shortness of breath, and weakness.

Given its role in erythropoiesis, it makes sense that one of the benefits of vitamin B12 is prevention of anemia. A deficiency in vitamin B12 causes the body’s red blood cells to become too large and irregularly shaped. This prevents them from moving properly throughout the body, which leads to a type of anemia called “megaloblastic anemia”.

2. May reduce the risk of osteoporosis

Given that vitamin B12 is very important for DNA function, it makes sense that it should also be an important part of building bones.

A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 had higher bone mineral density. Lower bone mineral density is an indicator of osteoporosis. This study showed that people who do not have adequate vitamin B12 storage may be at risk for osteoporosis.

3. Can improve heart health

Homocysteine ​​is a component of amino acids or proteins. When the protein breaks down, homocysteine ​​becomes one of the products. Studies have shown that high levels of homocysteine ​​are risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease or heart disease. In humans, high homocysteine ​​levels usually indicate a deficiency in folic acid (vitamin B9) or vitamin B12. )

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin B12 (along with other B vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B6) can lower homocysteine ​​levels. It is important to note, however, that the NIH reports that taking B12 supplements does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It can be beneficial to look for a heart health supplement rather than omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Can reduce the risk of birth defects

As mentioned earlier, pregnant women are advised to add more B12 vitamins to their diet than the average adult. This is because vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to birth defects such as neural tube defects and pregnancy complications. Therefore, pregnant women need to ensure that they are adhering to the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 to avoid birth defects in their children.

5. May reduce the risk of depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is widespread and affects more than 264 million people worldwide. This mental disorder can affect people of all ages.

A study of the health and aging of women in the United States found that vitamin B12 deficiency was more common in adult women with depression than in women without depression. In fact, they found that people with vitamin B12 deficiency were more than twice as likely to experience depression as people without a deficiency.

Another study carried out supports these results in a population of the elderly. A study in Rotterdam showed that older people with a vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to develop depression.

Studies have also shown that vitamin B12 supplementation can improve symptoms of depression. In a study published in the Open Neurology Journal, 100% of people with depression who were treated with vitamin B12 supplements had fewer symptoms of depression after 3 months.

6. Can improve your perception

A study published in the American Academy of Neurology showed that B12 marker levels in the body are linked to cognitive function and brain volume. The study found that when these markers showed vitamin B12 deficiency, total brain mass was reduced, which could lead to cognitive impairment.

Another study found that people with low vitamin B12 levels had lower memory and learning skills. These results show the importance of adequate vitamin B12 storage for cognitive function.

7. Can improve hair, skin and nail health

One of the most common reasons for taking vitamin B-12 is its promised effects on hair, skin and nails. According to the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, vitamin B12 deficiency can generally lead to hyperpigmentation, hair changes, skin changes, and glossitis (inflammation of the tongue). Ingesting adequate amounts of the B12 vitamins, either through diet or through supplements, can prevent these negative reactions from developing.

How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adults are recommended to take 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 per day. Certain specific groups of adults require different amounts of this nutrient. Pregnant women are recommended to take 2.6 µg of vitamin B12 daily, and breastfeeding women are recommended to increase their daily vitamin B12 dose to 2.8 µg.

Because vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, your body absorbs as much as you need and excretes the rest in your urine. This means that taking more than the recommended amount of vitamin B12 will not be of any benefit. In addition, it means that vitamin B12 has very low toxicity and is very safe.

Finally

Vitamin B12 or cobalamin plays an important role in red blood cell formation, nerve function and DNA synthesis. As I’ve discussed here, getting adequate B vitamins, either through food or through supplements, can improve cognition, lower the risk of osteoporosis, and reduce the risk of developing it. Depression Or reduce depressive symptoms.

While it is always desirable to get vitamins through food, vitamin B12 supplements are generally considered safe, especially for those who are low on animal foods such as meat, dairy products, and fish. Has been done.

If you are concerned about vitamin B12 levels, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor to determine if vitamin B12 levels are actually low and whether the supplement is appropriate.

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Featured Image Credits: Angela Fam via unsplash.com

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