5 Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
Whether it’s through your diet or injections, you need to make sure you have enough vitamin B12 each day.
Did you know that your body can’t produce all the essential nutrients it needs on its own? There are molecules that aren’t created by processes in the body, but instead, have to be ingested or injected in some way so we can get these essential nutrients. It’s why what we eat in our diet every day is so important.
B12 is one of these essential nutrients. Vitamin B12—or cobalamin—is a nutrient we can’t produce on our own and we rely on certain foods to get it.
The only foods B12 naturally occurs in are animal products. But it’s now added to foods that many Americans eat each day to ensure everyone gets enough of the essential vitamin. This is why you’ll see many types of cereal are “fortified with vitamin B12”. That means it doesn’t occur naturally in the cereal ingredients. Instead, it’s added to ensure more people get B12 and other fortified nutrients that many people would otherwise lack in their diet.
But why is B12 so important that cereals are fortified with it, and now injections are available to ensure you get enough of it every day?
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
As an essential vitamin, B12 does quite a lot to keep you healthy. Below are 5 of the biggest health benefits of vitamin B12:
Healthy red blood cell formation
Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, and red blood cells are important for carrying oxygen to all the organs of your body.
But when you are vitamin B12 deficient, your body can’t produce as many red blood cells, and they become larger and oblong. This makes it difficult for the red blood cells to move from your bone marrow and into your bloodstream. Ultimately, this means your organs don’t get as much oxygen as they need.
Studies find that people with vitamin B deficiencies have lower than normal bone mineral density. And it’s been linked to osteoporosis and poor bone health, particularly for women.
This is especially important for anyone though as you age. Because bones become frail and more likely to experience breaks and sprains as you get older.
Reduce the risk of memory loss
The link between B12, memory, and neuron health continues to grow. A deficiency in B12 has been linked to memory loss for older adults.
Plus, Vitamin B12, when combined with other nutrients, can slow the progress of early-stage dementia. And B12 deficiency is associated with memory difficulties unrelated to dementia.
Improve your mood
It turns out that B12 is important for creating and regulating serotonin—the molecule that regulates your mood.
Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause depression, or depression-like symptoms, as a result of inadequate serotonin production. In fact, the findings in one study suggest that a B12 deficiency can cause twice the risk of developing severe depression.
Promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails
Vitamin B12 gives a boost to our vanity too—it’s essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
It’s an important nutrient for cell production, which means it’s essential for all of our cells to look healthy and operate properly.
Studies have found that a B12 deficiency is associated with a range of skin conditions that can be overcome with an increase in vitamin B12 through supplementation or diet.
Signs of B12 Deficiency
So how do you know if you aren’t getting enough B12?
It can be difficult to figure out, but first, you can start tracking how much B12 you get every day (you’ll first want to learn the minimum amount of B12 you should aim for every day).
And you can consider if you regularly experience any of the following symptoms because they’re all associated with vitamin B12 deficiency:
Signs of a short term B12 deficiency:
- Feeling weak and tired
- Pale skin
- Bleeding gums
- Diarrhea or constipation
Signs of a long term deficiency:
- Frequent numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
- A decrease in cognitive abilities
- Difficulty balancing
The thing about vitamin B12 deficiency is that it builds slowly over time and can easily be mistaken for other health concerns.
But it’s always important to remember: this isn’t something you want to self-diagnose. Talk to your doctor or one of our medical professionals to see a B12 deficiency is actually something you’re experiencing before making any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle in an attempt to ameliorate certain health concerns or symptoms.
How to ensure you get enough?
One way to make sure you have enough vitamin B12 is to make sure you have a diet rich in B12.
Some of the top foods for vitamin B12 include fish, liver, milk, eggs, and beef.
However, that’s not always the easiest way, and there are still widespread vitamin B12 deficiencies across the US.
Some people simply don’t eat enough of these animal products in their diet. Also, diseases like Crohn’s, celiac disease, or pernicious anemia, prevent typical absorption of nutrients in the body.
So how can you ensure you have enough B12 and reap all the health benefits?
Vitamin B12 injections
At Valley Medical Weight Loss, we offer injections to help you keep your B12 levels where they should be.
While it is possible to get enough B12 through the diet, there are widespread deficiencies for a range of reasons like dietary restrictions or nutrient absorption difficulties.
We offer B12 injections using the highest quality methylcobalamin, which is a naturally occurring form of B12, unlike other options on the market. These injections improve your metabolism, give you a boost of energy, and improve mood.
Reach out to one of our locations nearest you to talk to one of our doctors and find out if you’d benefit from a B12 injection.
- Tucker KL;Hannan MT;Qiao N;Jacques PF;Selhub J;Cupples LA;Kiel DP; “Low Plasma Vitamin B12 Is Associated with Lower BMD: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research : the Official Journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15619681/.
- Köbe T;Witte AV;Schnelle A;Grittner U;Tesky VA;Pantel J;Schuchardt JP;Hahn A;Bohlken J;Rujescu D;Flöel A; “Vitamin B-12 Concentration, Memory Performance, and Hippocampal Structure in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26912492/.
- Penninx BW;Guralnik JM;Ferrucci L;Fried LP;Allen RH;Stabler SP; “Vitamin B(12) Deficiency and Depression in Physically Disabled Older Women: Epidemiologic Evidence from the Women’s Health and Aging Study.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10784463/.
- Berkheiser, Kaitlyn. “9 Health Benefits of Vitamin B12, Based on Science.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 June 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits.
- “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia.” HealthLink BC, www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hw65706.
- Semeco, Arlene. “Top 12 Foods That Are High in Vitamin B12.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 25 Feb. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-foods.
By Jodi Jaffe
November 11, 2020
General Health, Supplements