Good health is important for a happy life, yet we often tend to miss out on small things that can help better health in simple ways. Physical activity and proper nutrition go hand in hand to make you more healthy and productive.Even if you’re doing everything to improve your overall health, if you are deficient in nutrients such as vitamin B12, you are lacking a lot.
Yes, vitamin B12 can help in improving the quality of your life to a great extent. According to an abstract in Pubmed, the deficiency of vitamin B12 is a worldwide problem. Therefore, it is imperative to know how this vitamin is going to benefit your body and attain your goals. Here is all you need to know about the benefits and deficiency symptoms of vitamin B12.
Are you vitamin B12 deficient?
A deficiency of vitamin B12 is hard to predict unless the serum vitamin B12 in the blood is measured. This is due to the symptoms that coincide with other problems such as feeling tired, mood changes and poor memory. Some studies show that half of the patients having vitamin B12 deficiency show normal levels of when screening is done. However, if you are having a number of symptoms that match with the ones caused by its deficiency, you must not ignore itand ask your health care provider to carry on a more precise screening.
People with compromised digestion are more at the risk of developing a deficiency.This is due to the low amount of stomach acids produced which is unable to assimilate the vitamin in a proper way. Hence, this condition is more common in elderly with an impaired digestion.
The common symptoms include:
* Chronic fatigue
* Low concentration
* Poor memory
* Muscle weakness
* Body ache and joint pains
* Anxiety and depression
* Frequent mood swings
* Mouth sores and bleeding gums
*Loss of appetite
* Nausea and diarrhea
* Palpitations in the heart
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms that tend to linger on, you are probably having a vitamin B12 deficiency.
The Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 promotes health in many different ways. It works by improving the function of the organs to helps you attain a better health in a short period of time. Here are 10 benefits offered by vitamin B12.
1. Reduces fatigue
One of the biggest benefits of maintaining vitamin B12 levels in your body is a boost in your energy levels. A lack of energy may keep you from attaining your goals or complete your work on time. It may lay a negative impact in your life. Vitamin B12 increases your energy levels by improving the metabolism. It is helpful in converting the carbohydrates into glucose which provides a high level of energy to the body making you more active and focussed.
2. Improves brain and nerve functioning
A deficiency of vitamin B12 is often liked with poor memory and neurologic disorders. The vitamin helps in improving the nerve health and promotes the cognitive function. It aids in preventing Alzheimer’s diseases in elderly. Vitamin B12 also improves mood and reduces stress and anxiety by producing certain chemicals in the brain. Besides, it is also known to induce the process of methylation which can be helpful in treating autism. Therefore, adequate levels of vitamin B12 can prevent loss of brain volume in elderly women.
3. Improves heart health
The health of your heart can be easily improved by taking vitamin B12 in adequate amounts. It works by checking the levels of homocysteine which causes heart diseases. According to PubMed Health, when the homocysteine levels in the blood are lowered you are less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. In addition to it, vitamin B12 may also help in regulating high cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby, preventing high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
4. Enhances Mood
A good mood is all that is needed for a healthy and happy life and vitamin B12 easily helps you to have a good mood at all times. It acts on the nervous system and improves brain functioning. When consumed with folate, it helps in producing a compound called S-adenosyl methionine (SAM). This compound is helpful in improving neurological functioning thereby reducing stress and enhancing your mood. Vitamin B12 is also important for improving focus and concentration.
5. Good for pregnancy
Vitamin B12 can be extremely helpful in maintaining the health of the fetus and reduces the risk of neural tube defects. It assists in producing fetal cells when consumed along with folate. A deficiency of this vitamin during pregnancy may lead to the premature birth of the baby. Therefore, it plays an important role in keeping the pregnancy for a full term. Besides, it may also aid in relieving morning sickness common during pregnancy and help you feel better.
7. Minimizes Anemia
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin B12 effectively reduces the risk of a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia. This type of anemia usually leaves people feeling weak and tired. Since vitamin B12 helps in the production of adequate red blood cells in the blood, it prevents megaloblastic anemia and the associated chronic fatigue.
8. Good for skin and hair
Since vitamin B12 stimulated the production of cells, it is great for the skin, nails, and hair. It is known to reduce many skin disorders such as eczema. It treats skin inflammation in an effective way to provide you a problem free skin. Supplementing your body with this vitamin may help in dealing with shingles pain. In addition to this, vitamin B12 is also effective in treating vitiligo. When taken along with folate and exposing your body to the sun, it helps in causing re-pigmentation, thereby treating the condition. Vitamin B12 induces the formation of red blood cells which may promote the supply of oxygen to the hair follicles, inducing healthy hair.
9. Helps with diabetes treatment
Women with diabetes can reap some benefits by maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12. Although, it does not directly help in treating diabetes, but can be useful in reducing damage to the blood vessel in the eye, legs, and feet (diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy). This vitamin helps in reducing prickling sensation and numbness too. Diabetic patients are often prescribed metformin which may lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12. Therefore, if you are taking metformin to treat diabetes, increasing the vitamin B12 intake is beneficial.
9. Promotes digestion
A better digestion increases the absorption of the nutrients to promote a better health. Vitamin B12 stimulates the production of digestive enzymes to boost metabolism. Furthermore, vitamin B12 also increases the proportion of good bacteria in the gut while reducing the occurrence of problem-causing bacteria. This is particularly helpful in reducing several conditions such as candida and irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
10. Prevents cancer
According to an abstract published in PubMed Health, studies are being conducted to prove the effectiveness of this vitamin in combination with folate to prevent certain types of cancer. This may include cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. It may also be beneficial in preventing colon cancer. However, a few preliminary research suggest that this vitamin is advantageous for the immune systemwhich may prevent many diseases including cancer.
In addition to the above benefits offered by vitamin B12, it is also known to promote a better sleep. It induces the production of melatonin which promotes sleepiness and helps in treating insomnia. It reduces the disorders of the sleep-wake rhythm.
Vitamin B12: Are you getting enough?
Even though you are eating a healthy and balanced diet, you can become deficient in vitamin B12. It depends on its absorption by the body. The assimilation of vitamin present in the food is done in two steps. First, the digestive acids present in the stomach separates it from the protein it is attached to in the food that you eat.
In the second step, the released vitamin B12 gets attached to another protein present in the stomach. Therefore, if you have difficulty in any of these steps, the vitamin B12 does not get effectively absorbed by the body.
Some women may have impaired digestion which is common at an older age. Inadequate digestive acids in the stomach making it difficult to separate the vitamin from the protein it comes attached with. This may consequently lead to lower absorption and deficiency.
If you have a condition called pernicious anemia, your body is not able to make the protein that is needed to bind the separated vitamin B12. As a result, you may experience a deficiency.
Another reason for vitamin B12 deficiency is inadequate consumption of animal foods. Since this vitamin is present in animal foods, if you are a strict vegan or vegetarian, your body might not be getting enough of it.Excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking may also reduce vitamin B12 absorption in the body.
How much vitamin B12 do you need?
The amount of vitamin B12 need by your body greatly depends on your age. You may refer to the following chart to understand the amount of vitamin B12 needed by your body.
How to Increase the Vitamin B12 Levels in Your Body
Vitamin B12 can be taken from food in a natural way. It is present in animal foods such as meat, fish, beef liver, poultry, eggs and dairy products including milk.
If you are a vegetarian and do not eat animal products, you may consume fortified foods having recommended doses of vitamin B12. Fortified breakfast cereals and yogurt may contain adequate amounts of this vitamin to maintain its level in your body and prevent a deficiency.
Some studies show that vitamin B12 present in animal foods such as meat, chicken, and fish get easily absorbed by the body. However, its absorption from different sources of food can be different for different people depending on their digestive abilities. The recommended dose of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms, while foods such as salmon can provide 19.5 milligrams of vitamin B12 for 1 fillet which is about 108 grams.
Similarly, 3 ounces of beef and chicken liver contains 81 milligrams of this beneficial vitamin, whereas the same quantity of mackerel and tuna contain 15.3 and 9.3 milligrams respectively. A container of Greek yogurt of 170 grams may provide you 1.3 milligrams of it while a cup of raw milk has 1 milligram of vitamin B12.
Another way to increase your vitamin B12 levels is to take a daily supplement. It will help in providing your body with the exact amount of the nutrient on a regular basis and help you maintain a healthy body. If you are deficient in vitamin B12, your doctor might prescribe a daily supplement to quickly boost its level. If you do not consume enough of the foods that contain this vitamin, a supplement may greatly help you attain a better health.
Overdose and Interactions
An overdose of vitamin B12 is not harmful as this vitamin is non-toxic even when consumed in large doses. B vitamins are water-soluble. Therefore, the body flushes out the unused vitamin from the system in an effective way without causing an overdose. Since the deficiency can cause a loss of health problems, it is best to take the vitamin without worrying about its overdose to prevent health issues.
There are some interactions of vitamin B12 noted with certain medication, while some medicines can affect the absorption of the nutrient in the body. Vitamin B12 may interact with medicines such as metformin (used for diabetic patients), proton pump inhibitors, chloramphenicol (an antibiotic) and certain histamines. If you are taking any of these medicines, it is important to check with your doctor to prevent a deficiency.
Vitamin B12 proves to be a beneficial vitamin needed for the better functioning of the body.It not only prevents many diseases but also boosts your energy levels to improve the quality of your life in a simple and easy way. Always keep a check on its deficiency as it may ruin your health. Eating foods rich in vitamin B12 or taking its supplements on a daily basis is helpful in maintaining and healthy, stress-free and happy lifestyle.