Vitamin B12 is one of the important vitamins that are needed in sufficient amount because it does a lot of good things for your body. This vitamin is not produced by the body, although it can be stored for a long time inside your system. Because of this, you have to acquire this vitamin through diet, by consuming foods like fish, eggs, and poultry.
Do you have enough intake of vitamin B12? Because in fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is actually a pretty common occurrence. According to some recent studies, around 15%-40% of people who live in the United States don’t get enough vitamin B12 levels to function optimally. This is because most people are not aware that as they age, it gets more and more difficult for the body to absorb the vitamin. Meanwhile, the vitamin is needed for multiple functions and if you have a deficiency, your body can stop functioning properly.
1. Maintains A Healthy Energy Level
Vitamin B12 is very important because it helps the process of energy conversion that fuels the body. Vitamin B12 is an integral part of your metabolism. It is one of the eight B vitamins that are necessary to help converse carbohydrates that you consume through food intake into glucose that can be used by the body. Carbohydrates that have been turned into glucose is used to fuel the body as an energy. This is the source of all of your power to do your daily activities. This explains why people who experience vitamin B12 deficiencies usually feels a constant fatigue. When your body doesn’t have enough usable energy source, then you will feel tired all the time.
Moreover, vitamin B12 is also needed your nervous system to make your muscles feel energized. It is used by your neurotransmitter to signal your muscles to do contraction that can give you the energy to do your daily life. When the signaling is inhibited or blocked, you will feel very tired. A lack of vitamin B12 also causes muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, and muscle spasticity because of this particular role of vitamin B12.
While the amount of the vitamin needed by the body every day is relatively low, inadequate level of the vitamin should be boosted by consuming foods that are high in vitamin B12 or by taking vitamin B shots.
2. Helps The Formation and Maintenance of Blood and Nerve Cells
One of the most important roles of vitamin B12 is the formation and maintenance of red blood cells and nerve cells. Your body requires vitamin B-12 for some types of DNA synthesis, especially rapid synthesis. This is the type of synthesis that happens when your body generates blood cells in the bone marrow. A lack of vitamin B12 will disrupt the synthesis process, causing problems of red blood cells deficiency.
Meanwhile, in the nervous system, vitamin B12 is also needed to metabolize fatty acids that participate in the formation of myelin. Myelin is a sheath that covers around and protects the nerve cells. It insulates the cells and improves the transfer speed of electrical impulses from a nerve cell to another. Myelin is important in ensuring that the nervous system works well. When there is a breakdown of the myelin, detrimental effects related to different neuromuscular and neurological disorders may happen. Because of this, it is necessary to maintain an adequate supply of vitamin B12 to prevent problems with myelin formation.
3. Prevents Memory Loss
Sometimes, a memory loss is not caused by Alzheimer, but a sign of B vitamin deficiency, particularly vitamin B12. This is actually a surprisingly common cause of short-term memory loss symptoms, especially among the elderly.
Vitamin B12 can actually be absorbed naturally by the body without too much problem, but it is not uncommon for older people to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency. According to multiple studies, at least around 10 percent of older people aged over 65 years old experience vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because as we age, we no longer produce an adequate amount of stomach enzymes and acids which are necessary to break down the B12 vitamin in foods. As a result, the vitamin B12 isn’t absorbed well by our body. Vegans who aren’t careful with the way they fulfill their body’s vitamin B12 needs even experience a little more vitamin B12 deficiency compared to the general public. Moreover, there are also people who can’t naturally digest vitamin B12 and absorb them in the intestine, including patients of autoimmune conditions where the immune system attacks intrinsic factor protein in the stomach, patients of pernicious anemia and Crohn’s disease, and patients who take long-term acid reflux medication.
From all the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, memory loss is among ones that are pretty common and early. This comes with other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency including numbness, disturbed vision, and tiredness. Usually, people will just dismiss the symptoms and assume that they are a part of getting old. Sometimes, these people also get misdiagnosed with some forms of depression. The memory loss which is caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is not very prominent. It’s not obvious like a stroke or a heart attack, and the slow building makes it difficult to get recognized and diagnosed properly. The memory loss is actually one of the earliest and most important signs of an advanced vitamin B12 deficiency.
If the memory problem Is caught and diagnosed early, it will be very helpful to prevent the condition from getting worse. In a clinical experiment that was conducted in Oxfords on older people with memory impairment, it was found that vitamin B12 was useful in easing the condition. For two years, these people with mild cognitive impairment were given 500 mg of vitamin B12 each day. At the end of the trial, the shrinkage of the brain was inhibited and even almost halted. Unsurprisingly, the memory loss was also slowed down. The effectiveness of vitamin B12 in that trial happened despite the fact that those people were not diagnosed with B12 deficiency yet because, despite their slightly lower intake, the level did not meet the official limit for deficiency diagnosis.
4. Boosts Mood and Battles Depression
One of the benefits of a healthy and proper function of nervous systems is an elevated mood and general feeling of wellbeing. Since vitamin B12 promotes a healthy regulation of the nervous system, it also reduces the risks and alleviates mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. A prolonged depression and anxiety is not a good thing because your body will be in a constant state of flight or fight. This response is needed to guarantee your survival, but when you are constantly under the stress of anxiety and depression, it may lead to prolonged inflammation that can cause in chronic diseases in the end. Vitamin B12 and folate are two essential vitamins for a type of metabolism which produces S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) compound. This is an important compound for a healthy neurological function. A well-balanced and perfectly functioning neurological system will help with mood regulation and stress. Because of this, you need to have an adequate level of vitamin B112 as one of the factors that can treat your depression and boost your neurological function.
5. Improves Focus
Since vitamin B12 helps the formation of the nerve cells and the neurotransmitter, it is severely needed for cognitive processes. Vitamin B12 enables better focus and concentration as well as maintains alertness. Deficiency in vitamin B12 may result in attention disorders and inability to learn quickly. Because of this, the vitamin is very important during child growth.
6. Maintains Cardiovascular Health
Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in maintaining the health of cardiovascular system. Heart disease is a threat that should be prevented in any ways possible because it currently is one of the top causes of death around the world. Vitamin B12 supports the health of your heart in multiple ways. For instance, it helps bring down the levels of homocysteine in the blood, which is considered one of the biggest risk factors in heart diseases. Homocysteine is an amino acid which is influenced a lot by the levels of B-complex vitamins in the blood, including vitamin B12. B-complex vitamins regulate and stabilize elevated levels of homocysteine. A high and uncontrolled level of homocysteine in the blood may result in dangerous heart events like heart attack and stroke. It is particularly dangerous because it can lead to the formation of blood clot, the hardening and narrowing of arteries, and the damage of nerve cells. Vitamin B-12 helps play an important role in turning the homocysteine into methionine, a necessary compound needed by the body. This breakdown brings down the level of blood homocysteine.
By stabilizing the level of homocysteine, vitamin B12 as a part of B-complex vitamin prevents these dangerous problems. Moreover, there are also proofs that vitamin B12 can maintain a healthy level of blood cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure and high cholesterol level are also two of the biggest factors that can lead to heart problems. Moreover, vitamin B12 can also prevent atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque that exists in the arteries which may cause blockage, hypertension, and stroke.
7. Promotes Better Digestion
Vitamin B12 is also needed for a healthy digestion as it aids the production of a necessary digestive enzyme. The vitamin plays a role in helping the breakdown of the foods that you consume and processed in the stomach. This is very important for a healthy metabolism that can result in the proper level of energy to fuel your activities throughout your day. One of the ways vitamin B12 aids your digestion is by fostering the good bacteria that live in your gut environment. You need this environment to have a perfect balance where the good bacteria fight and cancel out the effects bad bacteria. When the bad bacteria grow uncontrollably in your gut, this will result in many digestive problems like diarrhea. Candida, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Vitamin B12 promotes elimination of the bad bacteria and the healthy presence of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. As a result, your gut environment stays in a balanced composition and you can avoid harmful digestive disorders.
8. Supports Healthy Pregnancy
Expecting mothers will also be greatly benefited by an inadequate level of vitamin B12 in their bodies. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of DNA or nucleic acid. This is the basic genetic material that becomes the blueprint for the creation of a human’s entire body. The development of the embryo which later becomes an infant is determined by the DNA. When the DNA generation is dirupted, there will be genetic disorders and even failure in the formation of a new human being. In addition, vitamin B12 also works together with folate in the body to lower the possibilities of birth defects in babies, for example, a neural tube defect. Because of this, vitamin B12 is a key in the growth and development of a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy will not be possible without an adequate amount of vitamin B12 in the mother’s body.
9. Helps Cancer Prevention
Vitamin B12 may also play a very important role in reducing the risk of certain cancers. This is especially effective when the vitamin is also consumed with folate. A preliminary study suggests that vitamin B12’s effect in strengthening the immune system may contribute to the prevention of cancer. When the immune system is boosted, inflammation and the damage of free radicals will be minimized, which might reduce the risks of cancer. Cancers that can be prevented include prostate, cervical, and colon cancer.
The findings need to be confirmed and tested through more thorough studies on this subject. However, this helps clear up the previous hypothesis that the supplementation of vitamin B12 is negatively associated with cancer. Previously, a European research team discovered that among hundreds of thousands of people that live in Denmark, those who have higher vitamin B12 levels in their system were linked with higher risk levels of cancer. Some people then assumed that vitamin B12 is a contributing factor to cancer. However, the researchers theorized that it was the other way around. The presence of cancer caused the unusually high levels of vitamin B12 in the body.
10. Helps Absorb Iron
Iron is an important mineral that plays critical functions in your body, so it is important to ensure that the mineral can be absorbed well. Unfortunately, there are several factors that can mess with our body’s ability to absorb iron, causing illnesses and deficiencies. Some nutrients, such as calcium and tannins, can negatively affect our body’s ability to absorb iron, along with some medications and medical conditions.
There are two types of iron: heme, which is derived from animal products, and non-heme, which is derived from plant sources. Human body mainly absorbs heme iron which is abundant in dairy, eggs, and poultry. This is the reason some people who follow a vegan diet have a hard time to fulfill sufficient iron intake. In fact, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies, resulting in poor cognitive skills, poor memory, decreased school or work performance, and many pregnancy-related problems, including delayed infant development and activity, low birth weight, and premature births.
Some minerals and vitamins can improve the absorption of iron in the body, including vitamin B12. The vitamin is especially important for people who don’t get enough heme iron intake because it promotes better absorption of non-heme iron.
11. Prevents Anemia
Iron-deficiency anemia is, in fact, the leading type of anemia cases in the world. Most iron-deficiency anemia is caused by inadequate iron intake or inadequate iron absorption. When the body can’t absorb enough iron due to poor diet, certain health conditions, or medications, iron-deficiency anemia is one of the most common effects. Consuming enough vitamin B12 is often the right way to prevent or treat iron-deficiency anemia because the vitamin helps better iron absorption.
Moreover, the lack of vitamin B12 itself also causes cases of anemia. Vitamin B12 plays an important part in the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells are important because their hemoglobin carries oxygens to all tissues and cells in the body. When the production of red blood cells is not normal because of the inadequacy of vitamin B12 level in the body, anemia may occur. Taking vitamin B12 supplements is a common treatment for this type of anemia, along with changing diet into one that accommodates better nutrients needed by the body.
12. Essential for Healthy Skin
Vitamin B12 is also part of the essential nutrients for a healthy skin. The vitamin benefits the cells because it helps with the repair of broken cells and the formation of new cells. As a result, the vitamin helps the skin to look its best. If your body has a sufficient level of vitamin B12, your skin will be better protected against aging. Getting the right amount of the combination of essential B vitamins can also help with multiple conditions, ranging from redness, acne, skin blemishes, and dryness. If you want your skin to look clearer and brighter, you shouldn’t be low in vitamin B12.
13. Promotes Healthy Hair
The vitamin’s role in generating red blood cells is also responsible for promoting a healthy hair growth. This is because there are tiny blood vessels at the base of each of your hair follicle, connecting the hair strand to the root. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the living parts of your hair strands. With adequate oxygen supply, your hair will grow healthily. On the contrary, if you don’t have enough vitamin B12 that helps the formation of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, your hair won’t be able to sustain its growth. You will experience hair loss and damaged hair. However, vitamin B12 doesn’t do this alone so you should also maintain a healthy consumption of other B vitamins.
14. Promotes Healthy Nails
Besides its positive effect on your hair and skin, vitamin B12 also contributes to the health of your nail. An adequate level of vitamin B12 will improve the condition of your nails. If you have never experienced vitamin B12 inadequacy, you won’t probably know the difference. However, if you find that your nails aren’t strong enough, or don’t look clear enough, you probably should check whether you have sufficient intake of vitamin B12.
15. Helps Metabolize Protein
One of the most important roles of vitamin B12 is its part in protein metabolism. This gives benefits to all parts of the body. Besides carbs and fat, protein is also an important source of energy. Protein metabolism turns your eggs, dairy, and meat into usable energy that fuels your daily life. Moreover, getting most of your energy source from protein will accelerate muscle building which is a good thing if you’re trying to get into shape. Having enough vitamin B12 intake will ensure that your body metabolizes protein well and any bodybuilding, weight loss, or energy improvement program that you are taking successful.