Like many other nutrients, vitamin B12 is essential in your body’s cellular and nerve health. It helps with your brain’s proper functioning as well as keep your nervous system in good shape. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the formation of red blood cells and the regulation of DNA. A deficiency in vitamin B12 may lead to megaloblastic anemia, which greatly affects your energy levels and makes you feel weak. Hence, having a sufficient amount of B12 in your system is of utmost importance. Vitamin B12 helps your body in the following ways:
1. It keeps your heart healthy
Vitamin B12, together with other B vitamins, keep your heart healthy by reducing the production of homocysteine. An excess of this harmful protein may result in a buildup, which may cause damage to the arterial wall. When this happens heart attack and other heart problems are likely to occur.
2. It improves your mood
Vitamin B12 helps synthesize and metabolize serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating your mood. Enough amount of serotonin can make you happy but reduced serotonin levels may lead to unhappiness and, ultimately, to depression.
3. It’s an energy booster
Vitamin B12 helps to reduce the risk of having megaloblastic anemia, which may inhibit the production of red blood cells. A decreased level of red blood cells may affect your energy levels and may make you feel tired and sluggish.
4. It keeps your vision healthy
Vitamin B12 protects your nerves from damage, which means it can help your vision healthy by keeping your optic nerve in good condition. The compound homocysteine is also linked to the age-related macular degeneration. You’re less likely to suffer from this problem when your homocysteine levels are low.
5. It improves your complexion
Your skin can also tell whether you have a sufficient amount of B12 or not. You will develop a pale color when your cells are too big. An orange or yellowish tint means your cells are weak and break easily.
6. It reduces your risk of dementia
Another ill effect of a high level of homocysteine is dementia, which is a brain disease characterized by memory disorder, personality problems, and impaired reasoning. Giving your body enough supply of vitamin B12 every day may reduce the risk of developing this brain disease.
7. It keeps pregnant women healthy
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for expectant mothers. This can help them prevent the risk of miscarriage or premature birth. It’s also essential for the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system. To get the exact amount of vitamin B12, expectant mothers are required to take B12 and other B vitamins supplements.
8. It helps with your balance and movement
Vitamin B12 keeps your nerves healthy. A healthy nervous system keeps your balance and motor skills in its best shape. An insufficient amount of B12 in your body keep your nervous system from functioning properly. The symptoms include a numbing or tingling sensation in some parts of your body, particularly your legs as if you’re being pinched by pins and needles. Never ignore this symptom because it can be a signal for nerve damage. The damage can get bigger when you ignore it for a longer time.
You can prevent the risk of developing nerve or cellular problems by taking an adequate amount of vitamin B12 every day. As an adult, your daily need for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg, which you can derive from the food you eat.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B 12 is not difficult to find. It’s present in different animal foods and in fortified commercial foods. But it’s best taken from different sources to get the most benefits. Vitamin B12 can be found from the following food sources:
- Other dairy products
- Fortified products
- Folic acid supplements
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Although Vitamin B12 is easily absorbed by the body given the right conditions, there are some people who are unable to absorb this nutrient. Consequently, they’re recommended to have shots of Vitamin B12 by their medical practitioner.
Factors That Affect Vitamin B12 Absorption
Your body will have difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12 when you have the following conditions:
Your body should have enough hydrochloric acid in your stomach to be able to absorb Vitamin B12 from natural foods. But older people don’t produce an adequate amount of this substance, especially when they’re in their 50s. The best Vitamin B12 sources for them are fortified foods or dietary supplements.
People suffering from pernicious anemia
This type of anemia reduces the production of intrinsic factor, which also helps in Vitamin B12 absorption. Vitamin B12 shots or oral doses of Vitamin B12 is their only source of this essential vitamin.
Patients who went through gastrointestinal surgery
Weight loss surgery or digestive disorders decrease the absorption of Vitamin B12.
People with vegan lifestyle
Since most of the Vitamin B12 is present in animal and dairy products, people who are strictly vegan may have less production of vitamin B12. But some of them believe that they can derive Vitamin B12 from plant sources like soy products, plant milk or fortified cereals.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Since Vitamin B12 works particularly for your cells and nerves, a deficiency of it can cause the following problems to take place:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Megaloblastic anemia
- Nerve problems
- Poor memory
- Sores in the mouth or tongue
- Delayed developmental milestones or survival problems for infants
Your body needs a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep yourself healthy. A deficiency thereof can lead to health issues, which may also affect the functioning of the other major organs of your body. Therefore, you should ensure that you give your body not just the essential Vitamin B12 to keep your cells and nerves healthy, but also the other nutrients that play different crucial roles in your body’s overall health and wellbeing.