A vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, with a 2004 study showing that it’s a major health concern in many parts of the world, including the U.S, India, Mexico, Central America, South America and certain areas in Africa.
Vitamin B12 benefits your mood, energy level, memory, heart, skin, hair, digestion and more. Vitamin B12 is also an essential vitamin for addressing adrenal fatigue, multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance — and maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Because of its wide-reaching roles within the body, a vitamin B12 deficiency can show up in many different negative symptoms, many of which are very noticeable, such as potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression, and chronic stress or feeling run down.
What is Vitamin B12?
- Vitamin B 12, also known as Cobalamin, is one of the 8 vitamins found in vitamin B complex. All B group Vitamins are required to convert food into fuel to produce energy but vitamin B 12 also plays an important role in regulating metabolism. This makes Vitamin B12 an essential nutrient found especially in animal sources of food.
- These are water soluble and delicate. They get destroyed easily when cooking or by consumption of alcohol. Food processing also reduces the amount of Vitamin B in foods.
- However, this vitamin does have a difference from the remaining of the complex. This is the only water soluble vitamin that is stored in large quantities in the liver for years.
- The daily requirement of Vitamin B12 varies from person to person. Strict vegetarians, heavy drinkers, smokers, pregnant ladies and elderly people usually require more doses of Vitamin B12 than others.
- People with a liver or kidney condition and sufferers of haemolyticanaemia also require a bit more of Vitamin B12 than others.
- RDA recommends at least 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 per day.
Vitamin B12 Benefits and Food Sources
Vitamin B12 benefits the central nervous system in many important ways: It helps maintain the health of nerve cells — including those needed for neurotransmitter signaling — and helps form the protective covering of nerves, called the cell’s myelin sheath. This means that when vitamin B12 levels are low, almost every cognitive function can suffer.
Vitamin B12, sometimes also called cyanocobalamin, also helps with digestion and heart health, so a deficiency can lead to both digestive disorders and an increased risk for heart disease.
The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Dietary Office estimates that somewhere between 1.5–15 percent of people in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin B12. Other studies, like one done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, indicate that this number might be even higher, with up to 39 percent of the population possibly suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Animal foods are the best food sources of vitamin B12, including organic grass-fed dairy products, cage-free eggs, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, organic poultry and organ meats. According to the NIH, plant foods do not naturally contain vitamin B12 unless they are synthetically fortified.
Vitamin B12 can be found to some degree in fortified plant foods like nutritional yeast, fortified grain products and algae sea vegetables. However, most of these are not thought to be nearly as absorbable as natural animal sources are.
Deficiency in Vitamin B12:
Nutritional deficiency of Vitamin B 12 is rare; but the body’s inability to utilize the vitamin can lead to deficiency disorders.
Sometimes our body is not able to absorb the Vitamin well, mainly because of defective absorption in the digestive system. This can happen with a person suffering from anemia, Crohn’s disease, bacteria growth in intestine and or due to worms.It is rare for young people to be deficient in Vitamin B 12 and more likely for older people to be mildly deficient. This may be because their diet is not sufficiently healthy or because they have depleted production of stomach acids which the body needs to absorb Vitamin B 12. However, it is rather difficult to identify a vitamin deficiency as the symptoms don’t present themselves duringthe early stages.
Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Are As Follows:
1. Memory Failure:
Vitamin B deficiency can lead to a weakened memory that leaves you puzzled. If you are constantly misplacing things or forgetting about your schedules and appointments, you need to check your diet. You might be suffering from Vitamin B deficiency. Add some fish and proteins in your diet.
2. Megaloblastic Anemia:
Vitamin B 12 deficiency leads to megaloblastic anemia. In this type of anemia, the red blood cells become bigger than normal causing problems in nutrient distribution and blood circulation.
3. Neurological Abnormalities:
Deficiency in Vitamin B 12 also causes neurological abnormalities including tingling and numbness on hands and feet. It also causes difficulty in walking and dementia. It can also lead to psychiatric conditions, like Ataxia, which is characterised by shaky movements and unsteady step.
4. Loss of Appetite:
If you have started to lose your appetite or if the food does not appeal to you anymore, you might be lacking in Vitamin B 12.
5. Anxiety and Confusion:
If you suffer from bouts of anxiety and confusion, and regular panic attacks, there might be a high possibility that you are suffering from Vitamin B deficiency. Confusion and anxiety can be triggered by Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
6. Weakened Digestive System:
If you are eating regularly but your body is not able to absorb nutrients, it might lead to constipation and a weakened digestive system. Vitamin B 12 also plays an important role here as metabolism rates also influence the digestive abilities of the body. So taking Vitamin B 12 in the form of supplements can help improve your digestive system.
Hypo-tension can also be caused due to Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Women over 64 with low levels Of Vitamin B 12 i.e. below 28 pg/ml are more susceptible to osteoporosis or loss of bone integrity.
9. Canker sores:
Vitamin B 12 deficiency can also cause canker sores.
A. Vitamin B12 Benefits For Skin:
1. Prevents Dull Skin:
If you are suffering from chronic skin issues or if you are having dull and unhealthy complexion, there might be a possibility that you are suffering from Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
2. Treats Eczema:
Vitamin B 12 helps to treat eczema. When ingested, it not only treats eczema but also fights the symptoms that might lead to eczema.
3. Prevents Drying:
When applied, Vitamin B 12 improves the balance, texture and moisture retention of the skin. Thus it protects the skin from drying.
4. Heals Skin:
Vitamin B 12 also helps to heal damaged skin and evens out skin tone. Vitamin B 12 helps to regulate the skins pigment and location thus prevents hyper-pigmentation which causes excess darkening of the skin. It lessens skin pigmentation to a great extent.
5. Prevents Vitiligo:
It also helps protects the skin from vitiligo, which causes irregular white patches on the skin.
6. Prevents Skin Lesions:
Vitamin B deficiency can also lead to skin lesions. If you suffer from skin lesions there are high possibilities that you might be having Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
7. Cell Formation:
Vitamin B 12 controls cell formation and cell life span. It gives the skin healthy colouring. Pale skin is a sign of poor circulation, malnutrition and Vitamin B 12 deficiency. Make sure you are eating enugh Vitamin B 12 rich food to regain your inner glow.
8. Keeps Skin Young:
One of the most important features of Vitamin B 12 is its ability to maintain youthfulness of the skin. We all love smooth and supple, baby skin, but lack of Vitamin B 12 can lead to premature lines and wrinkles. This anti-ageing property of Vitamin B 12 is one of its most prime aspects.
B. Vitamin B 12 Benefits for Hair:
9. Proper Doses:
Vitamin B12 has a lot of hair related benefits too. Vitamin B12 provides nourishment to all the cells of the body including our hair follicles. While Vitamin B12 is essential for hair growth, taking it in more than usual amount will not help the hair to grow. Only people with Vitamin B deficiency need supplements for proper hair growth.
10. Premature Hair Loss:
People who lack Vitamin B 12 in their bodies often suffer from premature hair loss. If you consume a diet that is inadequate in Vitamin B 12, you experience hair loss, or slow hair growth rate. This is because the body cannot process Vitamin B 12 on its own and cannot utilize the food you eat without vitamin B 12. This results to undernourished hair follicle cells which slows the hair growth rate.
11. Healthy Hair:
Vitamin B 12 is important for healthy nervous system and the formation of red blood cells and a compromise in either of these can affect our hair.
12. Hair Growth:
Vitamin B 12 also stimulates hair growth. Once the level of Vitamin B 12 is corrected, hair follicles start receiving proper nutrients and will be able to replicate correctly which leads to the regrowth of previously lost hair.
Melanin is a form of amino acids known as tyrosine, which helps to support healthy brain functions and is responsible for the pigmentation and colour of hair and skin. Vitamin B12 helps to encourage the re-pigmentation of the hair and also maintains the original colour of the hair.
C. Vitamin B12 Benefits for Nails:
14. Unhealthy Nails:
Poor nail health is another common sign of Vitamin B 12 deficiency. Some symptoms of unhealthy nails include rigged nail surface and disappearing of the moon of the cuticle. Brittle nails also mean that you require more Vitamin B 12 intake.
Vitamin B12 is also a key to healthy nails and plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells which prevents anaemia. The deficiency of blood can lead to pale and unsightly nails.
D. Vitamin B 12 Benefits for Health:
Vitamin B12 has a plethora of benefits to offer as far as human health is concerned. Here is the list of some of the health benefits offered by Vitamin B12.
15. Cell Maintenance:
Vitamin B 12 lends a helping hand in maintaining different types of cells in human body. Formation, repair and maintenance of red blood cells are largely dependent upon Vitamin B12. The nerve cells are also taken care of by Vitamin B 12. It also helps in maintaining a strong nervous system.
16. Relieves Fatigue:
Vitamin B 12 helps to relieve body weakness and fatigue. Thus vitamin B 12 helps to improve the stamina of human body and enables you to withstand heavy work pressure.
17. Controls Cholesterol:
The diet rich in food products containing Vitamin B 12 is helpful in reducing the level of cholesterol in human body. It also helps to control the level of triglycerides to take care of the proper functioning of human heart.
18. Cell Disorder:
Vitamin B 12 is considered an important constituent for treating several problems of sickle cell anaemia. It further even saves the body from endothelial damage.
19. Alzheimer’s Disease:
Vitamin B 12 is very effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is accompanied by symptoms like confusion and perplexity and difficulty in remembering things. It has been proven that people deficient in Vitamin B12 often suffer from this disease.
20. Prevents Cancer:
It has also been found that most women suffering from breast cancer are deficient in Vitamin B12. Thus a diet rich in Vitamin B12 is highly important for preventing breast cancer.
Vitamin B 12 also aids in methylation reaction, which is a complex process that helps to protect our DNA from damage. Poor methylation reaction increases our cell’s risk of DNA damage which elevates the risk of cancer. Daily intake of 7 micrograms of vitamin B 12 to help reduce DNA damage and lower the risk of various cancers.
21. Effect on Male Fertility:
Taking vitamin B 12 might also benefit men due to the effect of cobalamin on fertility. Low level of Vitamin B12 correlate with azoospermia; a condition characterized by lack of sperm in semen. Taking vitamin B 12 supplements might help to treat infertility to boost sperm production. But it is important to refer a doctor to know the amount you will need to consume for this.
22. Effect on Prions:
Cobalamin also helps to protect against prion diseases. Prions are unhealthy proteins.When exposed to the tissue, they badly effect healthy proteins and render them useless. Prions can also destroy tissue of the nervous system. It can also cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human form of mad cow disease and other neurological conditions as well.
23. Prevents Cardiovascular Disease:
Vitamin B 12 helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Elevated levels of Homocysteine, an amino acid, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine level in the blood is regulated by Vitamin B 12 and Folate.
Research has proved that high level of vitamin B 12 protects us against brain damage that mostly happens with ageing. People with high Vitamin B 12 intake show less age related problems.
26. Improves Mood:
Vitamin B 12 also helps to improve mood by maintaining proper mental function and mood balance. Deficiency of Vitamin B 12 leads to mood swings and mental imbalance. Vitamin B 12also exhibits the ability to enhance sleep patterns, allowing more restful and refreshing sleep. It helps the body to release melatonin faster which gives you sound sleep.
Hence, Vitamin B12 is an essential part of our lives. We need to maintain the adequate intake of B12 for smooth functioning of our body systems. Try and increase your intake naturally and if you are a vegetarian you can opt for supplements.
With Vitamin B12 on your side you can Be healthy.