Do you suffer from fatigue, lack of energy, mood swings and lack of concentration? This may be a sign that you are dealing with a vitamin B12 deficiency. If that’s true, you’re not alone.
Approximately 40% of people have low levels of vitamin B12, a problem that needs to be addressed because it is an essential vitamin for the production of red blood cells and DNA, not to mention all the benefits that vitamin B12 offers.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is considered to be one of the major nutritional deficiencies in the world, and a 2004 study showed that it is a major public health problem in many parts of the world, including the United States, India, Mexico, Central and South America and parts of Africa.
This is very important because B12 plays an important role in many bodily functions and it is therefore very important that we get enough vitamin B12 in our diet.
And what does he do? This essential nutrient affects yours:
- energetic level
- and counting the numbers
It’s also a vital vitamin:
- Adrenal Fatigue Relief
- Health anaemia and megablastic anaemia
- benefit from multiple metabolic functions, including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance.
- Maintaining nerve and cardiovascular health
Due to its broad role in the body, a deficiency of this important vitamin can lead to a number of symptoms:
- chronic fatigue
- Mood disorders such as depression
- chronic stress and a feeling of fluidity
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 actually exists in many forms and contains the mineral cobalt, therefore compounds with vitamin B12 are collectively called cobalanes. The two forms of B12 that are active in human metabolism are methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin.
Vitamin B12 has a positive effect on the central nervous system in many ways. It helps maintain the health of nerve cells – including those needed to transmit neurotransmitter signals – and helps to form a protective nerve mantle called the myelin cell membrane.
This means that when B12 levels are low, almost all cognitive functions can suffer.
It also helps digestion and heart health, so a deficiency can lead to both indigestion and an increased risk of heart disease. It can take the form of food sources, vitamin B12-hydroxocobalamin injections or intramuscular vitamins.
The Bureau of Nutrition of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that between 1.5 and 15 percent of people in the United States are deficient in vitamin B12.
Other studies, such as those published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, suggest that this figure may be even higher, since up to 39% of the population may be deficient in vitamin B12.
Benefits of vitamin B12
I wonder how vitamin B12 works as a wellness vitamin? Vitamin B12 works as a useful substance in the following way:
1. Helps maintain energy levels
Vitamin B12 has a positive effect on metabolism because it is essential for the conversion of carbohydrates into useful glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate-containing foods is used as a form of energy, so that people with deficiency symptoms often feel tired.
Studies show that vitamin B12 is also important for signalling a neurotransmitter that helps muscles contract and gives you the energy you need to get through the day without feeling tired or exhausted.
People often wonder whether vitamin B12 contributes to weight loss. Because the deficiency can lead to lethargy, chronic fatigue, mood swings and appetite, it can be difficult to lose or maintain weight with these symptoms.
Not that increasing your vitamin B12 level has led to weight loss, but correcting your deficiency can increase your energy level and regulate your appetite so that you can continue your wellness program.
2. Helps prevent memory loss and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to various neurological and psychiatric disorders. Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signalling, research shows that vitamin B12 has a beneficial effect on cognitive function and is used to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A systematic review in International Psychogeriatrics discussed 43 studies investigating the association of vitamin B12 with cognitive impairment or dementia, and 17 studies reporting the efficacy of vitamin B12 therapy in such a cognitive disorder.
Researchers have found that low levels of vitamin B12 are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, B12 supplements have been effective in correcting biochemical deficiencies and improving cognitive skills in patients with pre-existing vitamin B12 deficiency.
3. increases mood and helps the nervous system function properly.
One of the best researched benefits of vitamin B12 is its ability to help regulate the healthy nervous system, including reducing mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Studies show that vitamin B12, along with folic acid, is essential as a fundamental determinant of the metabolism of a carbon that produces a compound called SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine). SAM-e is crucial for neurological function, stress management and mood control.
Vitamin B12 is also essential for concentration and cognitive processes such as learning. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can therefore lead to concentration problems and an increased risk of attention deficit disorder.
4. Plays a role in maintaining heart health
Vitamin B12 has a positive effect on cardiovascular health in many ways, which is important given that heart disease is now the leading cause of death worldwide.
Vitamin B12 helps reduce the high homocysteine content, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid and its level in the blood is influenced by the vitamin content of the B complex, including B12.
Vitamin B12 helps protect against heart conditions such as a heart attack or stroke by lowering the high level of homocysteine in the blood. There is also evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
The vitamins of the B group are also able to fight atherosclerotic diseases, in which dangerous plaques accumulate in the arteries.
5. Essential for healthy skin and healthy hair
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays an important role in cell reproduction. Studies show that vitamin B12 improves skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne – and can be applied to the skin for psoriasis and eczema.
It can also reduce hair breakage and strengthen the nails.
6. Digestive acid
Because of its role in facilitating the production of digestive enzymes, B12 is necessary to maintain a healthy metabolism and breakdown of food in the stomach.
Does vitamin B12 improve digestion? It has been proven to promote the presence of healthy bacteria in the intestinal environment.
The elimination of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract – and the simultaneous presence of beneficial bacteria – is what prevents digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or candidiasis.
7. Needs a healthy pregnancy
Vitamin B12 is needed to form nucleic acid or DNA, the genetic base material that makes up the entire body. Therefore the nutrient is not only a key element for growth and development, but also an important element for a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin B12 also interacts with folic acid in the body, so it can help reduce the risk of birth defects such as neural tube defects. When a pregnant woman’s supply of B12 is low, the folic acid needed for DNA synthesis remains trapped and cell replication is hindered.
Studies report a two to four-fold increase in the risk of neural tube defects with low vitamin B12 status.
8. May contribute to cancer prevention
Vitamin B12 supplementation is currently being studied to reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially in combination with folic acid.
Some preliminary studies show that vitamin B12 is sufficiently useful for the immune system to potentially prevent cancer, including cervical, prostate and intestinal cancer. A study published in the International Cancer Journal has shown that low levels of B12 can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Studies conducted in 1999 showed that B12 status may affect breast carcinogenesis, making it a potential risk factor for breast cancer prevention.
9. Helps the production of red blood cells and prevents anaemia
Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of healthy red blood cells. It helps prevent a form of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, also known as vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, which causes symptoms such as chronic fatigue and weakness.
Studies published by the Mayo Clinic show that a number of people with a B12 deficiency suffer from classic mega-blastic anemia, a blood disorder that occurs when the bone marrow produces abnormal, large red blood cells or mega-bubbles.
Autoimmune disease called malignant anemia is a form of megaloblastic anemia that occurs when the body is unable to absorb vitamin B12 properly. The reports describe the treatment of malignant anemia with therapeutic doses of B12 intramuscular or oral.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be difficult to detect, especially given the frequency with which symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may occur, such as feelings of fatigue or lack of concentration.
Symptoms could be:
- A constant feeling of fatigue or chronic fatigue
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Joint pain
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- My head is swimming.
- Bad memory
- The inability to concentrate.
- Mood swings, such as increased depression and anxiety.
- have abnormal heart disease, like a heartbeat.
- Bad teeth, including bleeding gums and pressure points in the mouth.
- Digestive problems such as nausea, diarrhoea or convulsions
- Poor appetite
- More severe deficits can also lead to a form of anaemia called malignancy, a serious condition that can lead to memory loss, confusion and even prolonged dementia.
Who is most threatened by a shortage?
- Elderly people with a tendency to digestive disorders are one of the most vulnerable groups in the population. This is because older people tend to produce less heartburn, which is necessary for a good conversion of the vitamin.
- People who don’t eat meat…
- Smokers are at increased risk because nicotine can block aspiration.
- People with anemia
- People suffering from digestive disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease…
Pet food is the best source of vitamin B12:
- organic and vegetable dairy products
- Cage free eggs
- grass meat
- wild fish
- Organic bird
- Organ meat
According to the NIH, plant-based foods do not naturally contain vitamin B12, unless synthetically enriched.
Vitamin B12 occurs to a certain extent in fortified vegetable products, such as nutritious yeast, fortified cereal products and seaweed-based vegetables. However, it is assumed that most of them are not as well assimilated as natural animals.
Although the exact rate of absorption depends on the health of the human digestive tract, they are the main sources of vitamin B12:
- Cattle liver: 1 ounce: 20 micrograms (over 300 percent DV)
- Sardines: Three ounces: 6.6 micrograms (more than 100% DV)
- Atlantic mackerel: Three ounces: 7.4 micrograms (more than 100% DV)
- The little lamb: Three ounces: 2.7 micrograms (45% of DV)
- Salmon caught in the wild: 3 ounces: 2.6 mkg (42% Bq)
- Food yeast : One tablespoon: 2.4 micrograms (40% of DV)
- Feta cheese: 0.5 glass: 1.25 micrograms (21% of DV)
- Beef with herbs: Three ounces: 1.2 micrograms (20% DV)
- Cottage cheese: One glass: 0.97 micrograms (16% of DV)
- Eggs: 1 large egg: 0.6 mkg (11% of the daily value)
Supplements and dosage
Vitamin B12 can be taken in the form of tablets, drops under the tongue (called sublingual B12), as a mouth spray, gel or even an injection.
You can use any of these types of vitamin B12, but make sure you choose a high quality product from a reputable source. If you are interested in B12 injections, ask your doctor how to confirm the shortfall and how to proceed.
Don’t forget that older people are sometimes better supplemented with B12 drops and oral aerosols because they have problems absorbing vitamins in the stomach.
Adults who wish to increase their B vitamins by taking something other than wholemeal food should take B12 as part of a B complex supplement for wholemeal food or a high quality multivitamin supplement for wholemeal food. They contain a series of B vitamins that all work together in the body to function and balance, hence the complex name of this group.
As part of the B vitamin complex you will find other important B vitamins, such as biotin, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin, which need each other to achieve the best results.
Compared to other vitamins, we don’t need a lot of vitamin B12, but we have to build up new vitamin B12 almost every day. B vitamins are soluble in water and are easily removed from the body. In order to maintain the recommended amount in the blood and to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, it is therefore necessary to consume frequent sources of vitamin B12.
The NIH reports that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 :
- Infants 0-6 months: 0,4 µg
- Babies 7 to 12 months: 0.5 micrograms
- Babies at 1-3 years of age: 0.9 micrograms
- Children from 4 to 8 years: 1.2 micrograms
- Children from 9 to 13 years: 1.8 micrograms
- Adult men and women over 14 years of age: 2.4 micrograms
- Pregnant women: 2.6 micrograms
- Breastfeeding women: 2.8 micrograms
The NIH recommends adults over 50 years of age to take a vitamin B12 supplement or a vitamin B12-enriched meal daily. A daily intake of 25 to 100 micrograms is recommended, as this amount has been shown to maintain a healthy vitamin B12 level in the elderly.
The best sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, such as organic meat and wild caught fish. Cooking with nutritious yeast is another good way to increase the vitamin B12 content if you don’t eat meat.
Here are some delicious recipes that contain good amounts of vitamin B12:
Risks and side effects
Vitamin B12 can be difficult to absorb if a person has a history of alcoholism or smoking. In addition to alcohol and nicotine, prolonged consumption of antibiotics can also reduce the stomach’s ability to absorb and use vitamin B12.
Therefore, anyone who has taken medications that control gastric acidity should talk to his or her doctor about the need to take vitamin B12 supplements.
Potassium supplements can also reduce the absorption of vitamin B12. For example, if you take large amounts of potassium as an additive, you should be wary of a possible vitamin B12 deficiency. Potassium from food should not be a problem, but a very large amount can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient of the vitamin B complex, which the body needs in small amounts in order to function properly.
- Vitamin B12 has a positive effect on energy levels, mood, memory, heart, hair, skin and digestion. It is also necessary for the production of DNA and red blood cells.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, including chronic fatigue, nerve damage, mood disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, heart problems, anaemia and neural tube defects in young children.
- To correct vitamin B12 deficiency, more natural sources of vitamin B12, such as beef liver, organic meat and wild salmon, should be consumed. You should also take probiotics daily and work on your intestinal health by eliminating inflammatory feeding.
- If you have symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency due to your eating habits, age or state of health, you should consider taking a B-complex dietary supplement.