Vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B vitamin family. These vitamins help support adrenal function, maintain a healthy nervous system, are necessary for key metabolic processes, and are important to DNA synthesis.
Why Is Vitamin B12 Necessary?
Knowing the facts about vitamin B12 and its benefits is vital: this essential micronutrient affects the development and maintenance of red blood cells, nerve cells, and normal myelination (covering) of nerve cells. It also aids in the production of DNA, RNA, and neurotransmitters.
What Are The Signs Of A Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, bleeding gums and mouth sores, nausea, poor appetite, and diarrhea. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may present themselves slowly and may not be recognized for some time. A vitamin B12 deficiency can produce pernicious anemia, which can lead to memory loss, confusion and even dementia.
Since we obtain the B12 vitamin only from animal foods in our diet, vitamin B12 deficiencies tend to develop among strict vegetarians, especially vegan children, who eat no animal products. However, the elderly, and those who are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from the intestinal tract are also at risk, as well as those who are pregnant or who suffer hemorrhage or intestinal disorders.
Protects 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. These are some of the most common and most deadly cancers out there, so it’s worth checking out all of your vitamin levels, including Vitamin B12 to see where you stand and what you’re lacking in.
Protects Against Heart Disease — Overall, heart diseases of all types is the number on killer of Americans, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to make sure that your Vitamin B12 levels are in proper order. They have been shown to help the cardiovascular system in general, and a deficiency is often seen in those with heart problems. Since your heart is one of your most vital organs, it’s important to take good care of it, and while one specific vitamin won’t be a miracle answer, it can help in a comprehensive approach.
Helps 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. Try not to rely on a multivitamin or synthetic sources, an all natural strategy is best for the body and mind.
Boosts Energy Levels — If you’ve been dragging lately it could be that you’re not getting enough Vitamin B12. Along with the other B Vitamins, B12 is known for it’s ability to keep you alert and feeling energized. That’s why some energy drinks include this in your ingredients. But it’s better to eat foods that contain it than it is to get it from unnatural sources. Luckily it’s somewhat rare to run a shortage on this vitamin, so in all likelihood you’re good.
Reduces 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. Only your doctor can let you know for sure, and it’s a relatively quick and easy process to have done. That way you’ll know exactly which vitamins you need more of, and which ones you’re OK on, instead of playing the guessing game.
Helps Metabolize Proteins — One of the main features of Vitamin B-12 is that it plays an active role in protein metabolism, which trickles over into several areas of the body. You might not notice these benefits when you are fine on your levels of B12, and you may not even be able to perceive a decline if you start to run low. For while these processes are important, they don’t show visible signs of depletion until after several years.
Good for Brain Health — In addition to helping stave off and treat Alzheimer’s, Vitamin B12 also provides healthy benefits for the brain, and helps prevent what is known as “brain shrinkage” which can lead to conditions like dementia when you’re older. In the here and now it can help you to feel less mentally fatigued and on top of your game.
Good for the Digestive System — Vitamin B-12 assists the digestive system in its proper functioning, and you’ll notice that if you don’t get enough of it you are more prone to constipation and a sluggish digestive system. Since backed up digestion can lead to general toxicity in the body, it’s important to keep things moving at a steady pace. That’s why you’ll want to eat foods that are both high in fiber and that also contain the right mix of vitamins.
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. It’s simply something you don’t want to run low on if you want your skin to be radiate and clear.
Makes Hair Healthier — Vitamin B12 is often added to hair products because of its ability to add shine and a healthy look. But what’s even better is to start meeting your needs through the foods you eat. That way your hair will naturally grow out as if you had used a topical treatment containing Vitamin B-12. Try eating more eggs, chicken, and various seafood as a way to have higher levels of B12, without having to buy expensive hair products.
Good for the Nails — In addition to being good for the skin and hair, you may also notice an improvement in your nail health. This is especially true if you’ve been running low on Vitamin B-12. If you haven’t then you might not notice any difference. But if you’ve been complaining about the way your nails look, or that they’re not strong enough, you might benefit from checking your B12 intake and see if it could be improved.
Helps 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. If they didn’t, we’ve got you covered with our own list of Vitamin B12-rich foods.
Risks and complications —
Common complications and conditions caused by a deficiency of B-12 include anemia, neurological disorders, and the inability for cells to divide.
If you do not have enough Vitamin B12 in your body, you may also experience the following symptoms:
- Nerve damage
- Tingling of hands and feet
- Blurred vision
- Excessive sweating
- Walking difficulties
- Digestive problems
- Sore tongue
List of Foods containing Vitamin B12 –
- Almond Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Swiss Cheese
- Whole Grain Oats
- Soy milk
I’m Dr. Malini Bhat MD (Ayu); an Ayurvedic Doctor and a health blogger. Follow me on social media to get daily health tips which you can easily adapt to a healthy lifestyle.