Are you feeling fatigued during the day? If yes, then you just might be missing out on an important vitamin.
Our bodies shouldn’t be ready to sleep until bedtime, so if you have to lay your head down on your desk during the day for a snooze, then you could be low in this important vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining energy levels and the formation of red blood cells. Although you can get your recommended intake through diet alone, supplementing B12 may benefit a number of people, especially if you’re following a plant-based diet.
Here are eight benefits of vitamin B12:
- Formation of red blood cells
- Support bone health
- Improve mood and symptoms of depression
- May benefit brain health
- Increase energy
- May improve heart health
- Support healthy skin, hair and nails
- Healthy nervous system
What Exactly Does Vitamin B12 Do?
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that’s crucial for many vital metabolic and hormonal functions — including the production of digestive enzymes and carrying important nutrients into and out of cells. Due to how it helps convert and synthesize many other compounds within the body, it’s needed for well over 100 daily functions. Some of the roles that are attributed to vitamin B12 include:
- Forming red blood cells
- Playing a role in DNA/RNA synthesis
- Helping with methylation which protects cardiovascular health and more
- Facilitating metabolic conversion of protein and fats
- Carrying out neurotransmitter functions and helping with the production of hormones
- Helping convert amino acids and making creatine
- Producing a myelin sheath (the coating of nerves)
- Helping with the synthesis of hemoglobin
- Playing a role in fetal development during pregnancy
This essential little vitamin is packed with a lot of punch, right?
Clinical studies reveal that one in four adults are deficient in Vitamin B12, the energy nutrient that your body needs to carry out essential functions. Vitamin B12 deficiency is believed to be one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, especially among people taking stomach acid-altering medications and antibiotics frequently, along with the elderly and sometimes vegetarians and vegans.
For this reason, B12 injections are sometimes used to offset the many symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as fatigue and weakness, poor moods, and low concentration.
You should know that Vitamin B12 is one of those vitally important nutrients that have a significant impact on your health. It affects every aspect of the way your systems function – from how your cells form to how you feel every day. Providing support for your nervous and immune systems is one of the many benefits of Vitamin B12.
Without adequate amounts of this vitamin, your body’s ability to perform its job deteriorates. You won’t have enough physical, emotional and mental energy to survive through the day.
8 Health Benefits of B12 Methylcobalamin
1. Formation of Red Blood Cells
Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the formation of red blood cells. Low levels of B12 can result in fewer red blood cells forming and also prevent cells from developing fully.
Red blood cells are an essential part of the blood. They carry oxygen through the body and also remove carbon dioxide from the lungs. When your blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells, you can become anemic. Signs of anemia can include dizziness, weakness, headaches, and shortness of breath. Although there are several different types of anemia, generally, they can be caused by either blood loss, destruction of red blood cells, or faulty or decreased red blood cell production.
2. Support Bone Health
Maintaining proper levels of B12 may help support bone health and prevent osteoporosis. One study with more than 2,500 participants found that people with lower than normal B12 levels had lower bone mineral density.
Decreased bone mineral density is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis. As bone mineral density decreases, bones can become fragile over time. Other research shows that there is a link between low levels of B12 and osteoporosis, especially in women.
3. Improve Mood and Symptoms of Depression
The precise effect B12 has on mood isn’t entirely clear yet. However, it does appear to have an effect on synthesizing serotonin, which regulates mood. Therefore, low levels of B12 may lead to less serotonin production, which may cause a depressed mood.
One study found that the risk of depression was double in people with a B12 deficiency. B12 supplements may help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression in people with a B12 deficiency. As people with a B12 deficiency tend to experience mood changes, it’s essential to maintain optimum levels of the B vitamin.
4. May Benefit Brain Health
Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to memory loss, particularly in older adults. The vitamin may help to prevent memory loss. One study found that a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids slowed down mental decline in patients with early-onset dementia.
More research is needed to conclude the effects B12 has on brain health and memory loss. But, we know that B vitamins like B12, B6, and folate are all important brain vitamins.
5. Increase Energy
All B vitamins play a role in energy production and maintaining energy levels throughout the day. Although vitamin B12 doesn’t give you an energy surge like you would get from a cup of coffee, it’s essential for your energy levels. One of the most common symptoms of a B12 deficiency is fatigue and a general lack of energy.
6. May Improve Heart Health
Vitamin B12 works alongside B6 and folate to reduce homocysteine. Homocysteine is a protein that can build up in the blood and eventually damage the artery walls, therefore playing a role in heart disease. When B12 levels are low, homocysteine can build up in the blood, increasing your risk of heart disease.
7. Support Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
As vitamin B12 plays an essential role in cell production, it’s crucial for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Low levels of vitamin B12 can result in a ton of dermatologic symptoms like hyperpigmentation, hair changes, nail discoloration, a loss of skin color in patches, and cracked mouth corners.
Research suggests that supplementing vitamin B12 has been shown to improve dermatologic symptoms in people with a B12 deficiency. Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12 supports healthy skin, nails, and hair.
8. Healthy Nervous System
Vitamin B12 keeps your nervous system in good working order. When you’re deficient in vitamin B12, you may experience pins and needles in your extremities or numbness and tingling. Vitamin B12 helps to produce myelin which is a fatty sheath that protects your nerve endings. When you’re deficient in vitamin B12, your nerves can’t function properly.
What is the Best Way to Take Vitamin B12?
Foods rich in Vitamin B12 are typically animal-based like red meat, dairy products, and fish. There are some plant-based foods such as whole-grain cereals and fortified soy products, but whole grain cereals tend to be high in carbohydrates and sugar and are usually loaded with preservatives. As for soy products, besides corn, soy is one of the most popular genetically modified products here in the states.
This is why vegans and vegetarians should have their levels checked and take a vegan-friendly vitamin B12 daily such as is found in Sunwarrior’s Vitamin Mineral Rush. Vegans and vegetarians can also have an injectable B12 shot. I know; I used the word shot, but it’s totally worth the tiny needle stick to feel healthy!
I use Methylated vitamin B12 injections in my practice to allow anyone with a positive MTHFR gene who normally converts the inactive form of B12 to convert the active form. Methyl B12 is the active form. 1mL per week for the first four weeks followed by 1mL every 2 weeks, then once per month to maintain. You can check B12 levels by serum lab tests as well.
Signs and Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
The ideal recommended dose of vitamin B12 varies depending on your age, gender, and the reasons you’re taking it. There are certain groups of the population that are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency including:
- Following a vegan or vegetarian diet
- Over 50
- Specific genetic mutations
- Gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
An interesting aspect of B12 deficiency can be due to our genetic variants and the inability to properly break down and utilize vitamin B12. But now we can test for that.
We can assess your methylation pathway via DNA and establish whether you methylate or break down and absorb vitamins such as B12, takes the guessing game as to why you are deficient in the first place. I do not just give vitamin B12 injections without figuring out WHY a patient is deficient; I prefer to get to the root cause.
Each symptom varies from patient to patient, but some symptoms can include:
- Chronic fatigue, lethargy, and weakness
- Muscle aches, joint pain, and trouble exercising
- Poor memory, inability to concentrate, and other cognitive problems associated with aging
- Mood changes, like increased depression and anxiety, or signs of nervousness like rapid heartbeats/palpitations
- Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
- Shortness of breath and feeling dizzy
- Poor appetite or digestive problems like constipation, nausea, diarrhea or cramping
- Sometimes greater risk for problems like cardiovascular complications or even cancer (due to a rise in homocysteine levels)
This is why it’s so important to not only have your B12 levels checked but also to start taking a daily B12 vitamin.
Vitamin B12 benefits your entire body from your brain to your nerve endings. It’s an essential vitamin that your body needs but can’t produce on its own. Therefore, it’s crucial that you get vitamin B12 either through your diet, supplement, or shot. The B vitamin is vital for maintaining energy levels, mood, and may even improve memory and prevent heart disease. By hitting your daily intake for vitamin B12, you can provide your body with the fuel it needs to power through anything.
- Surprising Differences Of Whole Food Vitamins Vs. Synthetic Vitamins
- What is Homocysteine?
- Symptoms and Side Effects of Mineral Deficiency
- Vegan Pregnancy Diet: Top 8 Foods That Are Good For You And Your Baby
- 9 Silica Health Benefits – Detox, Skin Health, And More
- Delicious Green Smoothie Recipes to Boost Your Health
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 18, 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
If you are looking to supplement your diet with B12, Sunwarrior has two products that contain methylcobalamin B12. Our Lean Meal Illumin8 meal replacement has plant-based protein, organic superfoods, and the equivalent of 1 vegetable serving and 1 fruit serving and vegan vitamin D3. It provides everything you need for healthy weight loss and weight management as well as provide the energy boost you need to get you through your day. Sunwarrior's Liquid Vitamin Mineral Rush also contains methylcobalamin B12. Liquid Vitamin Mineral Rush is created by nature, derived from organically grown or wildcrafted plants. These natural sources are blended to create an ideal raw super supplement. A powerful B vitamin complex complements the full spectrum minerals and other health improving essential vitamins.