Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is arguably the most important of the eight B vitamins and is an essential vitamin that your body needs.
Your body doesn’t make Vitamin B12, so it’s important to get it from food sources such as Beef, pork, eggs, milk, cheese and fish. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you may not get enough B12 from your diet and even though some plant-based milks or grains may have been fortified with vitamin B12, vegan diets are often limited in this vitamin, putting people at risk of deficiency. Symptoms of deficiency include anaemia, depression, disturbed vision and dementia.
In summary, Vitamin B12 has multiple benefits from fighting fatigue and keeping our bodies’ nerve and blood cells healthy to producing DNA. It also helps with boosting energy, improving memory, helping prevent heart and eye disease, supporting bone, hair, skin and nail health and managing stress.
Read more below for the science-backed multiple benefits of vitamin B12:
HELPS WITH RED BLOOD CELL FORMATION AND ANAEMIA PREVENTION
- Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in helping your body produce red blood cells. A deficiency in B12 can lead to Anaemia. This is where you have fewer red blood cells than normal, and you may experience symptoms such as extreme tiredness, a lack of energy, feeling faint, a pale yellow tinge to your skin and/or a sore red tongue.
SUPPORTS BONE HEALTH AND PREVENTS OSTEOPOROSIS
- Low blood levels of vitamin B12 have been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. One study in more than 2,500 adults showed that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency also had lower than normal bone mineral density which can become delicate and fragile over time, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
REDUCES RISK OF MACULAR DEGENERATION
- Macular degeneration is an eye disease that mainly affects your central vision. Researchers believe that supplementing with vitamin B12 may lower homocysteine levels which has been associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration.
IMPROVES MOOD AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
- Vitamin B12 is needed for the production of serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to decreased serotonin production, which may cause a depressed mood. Studies support the use of vitamin B12 supplements for improving symptoms of depression in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency. For example, one study in people with depression and low vitamin B12 levels found that those who received both antidepressants and vitamin B12 were more likely to show improved depressive symptoms, compared to those treated with antidepressants alone. Another study discovered that vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with twice the risk of severe depression.
BENEFITS YOUR BRAIN BY PREVENTING THE LOSS OF NEURONS
- Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with memory loss, especially in older adults. One study in people with early-stage dementia showed that a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid supplements slowed mental decline. Another study found that even vitamin B12 levels on the low side of normal can contribute to poor memory performance.
GIVES YOU AN ENERGY BOOST
- Vitamin B12 supplements have long been touted as the go-to product for a surge of energy. In fact, one of the most common early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue or lack of energy.
IMPROVES HEART HEALTH BY DECREASING HOMOCYSTEINE
- Studies have shown that vitamin B12 helps decrease homocysteine levels, a type of amino acid that is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
SUPPORTS HEALTHY HAIR, SKIN AND NAILS
- Adequate levels of Vitamin B12 are needed to promote healthy hair, skin and nails given its role in cell production. In fact, low vitamin B12 levels can cause various dermatologic symptoms, including hyperpigmentation, nail discoloration, hair changes, vitiligo (the loss of skin color in patches) and angular stomatitis (inflamed and cracked mouth corners).
Vitamin B12 is vital to your health and deficiency can occur if your diet lacks adequate amounts of it or your body is unable to fully absorb it from the food you eat. Those at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include: older adults; people on a strict vegan diet; people with gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease; those who have had gastrointestinal surgeries, such as bariatric surgery or bowel resection surgery; and those who take metformin for blood sugar control. If you think that you might be at risk, speak to your doctor.
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