Vitamin B12 is one of our bodies’ essential B vitamins to function fully. It also is one of the vitamins in which many of the population are deficient. This is especially true when it comes to impoverished parts of the world. B12 affects your mood, energy levels, cognition, and memory, to name a few. It also maintains several metabolic functions, such as the production of enzymes, secretion of hormones, and DNA synthesis. These operations are essential to regulating the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
People who have become deficient in vitamin B12 may experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms. This can include things like fatigue or mood disorders such as depression. So how can one ensure they do not become deficient in this essential vitamin? Most people get B12 from dietary sources such as animal products like milk, meat, or eggs. Some plant-based foods come fortified with B12 but will not contain it naturally. If you suspect you have a deficiency, talk to your doctor before doing any extra supplementation. When increasing the amount of B12 you intake from dietary sources or a supplement, here are some of the benefits that you may experience:
- Better Energy Production
People take many everyday products to get over their mid-day slump containing some B12. If you have ever used a caffeine patch, it most likely contains vitamin B12. This is because B12 is essential to your body’s energy production, even though it doesn’t provide energy itself. However, in people who are already deficient in B12, increased intake of this vitamin can help with the body’s natural energy production.
- Helps With Red Blood Cell Formation
One of the many essential roles that B12 plays is in red blood cell production. When your B12 levels are too low, there is a reduction in red blood cell formation. Sometimes these blood cells even form improperly. When red blood cells are healthy, they are small and round. People deficient in B12 can have blood cells that form larger and oval-shaped. This makes it difficult for the cells to move from the bone marrow to the bloodstream at an appropriate rate. This is what causes issues like megaloblastic anemia.
Anemia can also occur if your body slows down its production of red blood cells. This happens when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to your vital organs. Then you will experience fatigue and weakness as a result. Regular consumption of B12 can help reduce your risk of developing these issues.
- Reduces Risk of Neurodegenerative Disorders
The nervous system is another body part heavily affected by vitamin B12 levels. If your intake of B12 is insufficient, the nervous system can fail to keep up with the demanding nature of the cognitive processes. When this occurs, neurological and psychological interference will hinder cognitive development. When B12 is consumed in the proper amount, it helps prevent the nervous system from degenerating. This then will reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Can Support Bone Health
Maintaining adequate B12 levels can also help support your bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. A study found that low levels of vitamin B12 were directly associated with decreased bone mineral density, leading to the bones becoming more delicate and fragile over time.
- Improves Mood
While there is still more research on the topic, we know that B12 plays a vital role in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical that is responsible for regulating mood. So it stands to reason that low levels of B12 can contribute to depression. One study that looked at people with depression found that those who received antidepressants and vitamin B12 simultaneously were more likely to show improvement than the control group who only received antidepressants.
Increasing Vitamin B12 Consumption
When it comes to B12, it is essential to be mindful of your intake to experience the benefits. If you are experiencing symptoms of B12 deficiency, you will want to get evaluated by your doctor before taking a supplement containing B12. Additionally, those who do not consume animal products can also benefit from supplementation if they are not mindful about consuming fortified products. Ensuring that you get sufficient B12 will help keep you healthy long-term.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to long-term health issues if left untreated. Neurological and psychological developments can be impaired, such as difficulty with balance, memory problems, depression or cognitive decline. A lack of B12 may also lead to anemia and bone loss.
The primary benefits of vitamin B12 include better energy production, aiding in red blood cell formation, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, supporting bone health and improving mood.
Good sources of vitamin B12 include animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Plant-based sources with fortified B12 include nutritional yeast and nut milk. Additionally, some vegan supplements are fortified with B12.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day for adults. However, this may vary depending on your individual needs and dietary habits. Consult a doctor to determine what amount of supplement makes sense for you.
It is rare to overdose on vitamin B12 since it is a water-soluble vitamin. However, consuming too much can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. It is best to consult a doctor before taking any supplements.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to long-term health issues if left untreated. Neurological and psychological developments can be impaired, such as difficulty with balance, memory problems, depression, or cognitive decline. A lack of B12 may also lead to anemia and bone loss.
The best way to determine whether you are getting enough vitamin B12 is by having your blood tested for nutrient levels. If your levels are low, you may consider increasing your dietary intake or taking supplements. It is important to note that vegan sources of vitamins.