A vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, and it’s a major health concern in many parts of the world, including the U.S and several other countries.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that’s crucial for addressing adrenal fatigue, multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance — and maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems. There are actually many symptoms that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency, such as potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression or chronic stress.
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.
So what are the benefits of Vitamin B12?
- Helps Maintain Energy Levels
- Vitamin B12 helps your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into useable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, which is why people with vitamin B12 deficiencies often experience fatigue.
- Prevents Memory Loss and Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
- Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 helps cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Boosts Mood and Helps the Nervous System to Function Properly
- One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folinic acid or folate, is beneficial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation. Vitamin B12 is also needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning.
- Plays a Role in Maintaining Heart Health
- Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. It protects against heart disease, like a heart attack or stroke, by lowering high levels of homocysteine in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels.
- Needed for Healthy Skin and Hair
- Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays a major part in cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne blemishes. It can also reduce hair breakage and help nails to become stronger.
- Aids in Digestion
- Vitamin B12 helps promote healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract — and simultaneously the presence of “good” bacteria. Also, with supporting gut health, it will also boost the immune system, since 80% of your immune system comes from your gut.
- Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy
- Vitamin B12 is needed to create nucleic acid, or DNA, which is the basic genetic material that’s used to create our entire bodies. Therefore, vitamin B12 is not only a key nutrient for growth and development, but a vital component of a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 also interacts with folate in the body, so it may help lower the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.
- May Help Prevent Cancer
- Vitamin B12 supplementation is now being studied as a way to help lower the risk of certain kinds of cancers, especially when taken with folate. Some preliminary research shows that vitamin B12 benefits the immune system enough to potentially help prevent cancer, including cervical, prostate and colon cancers.
- Helps Produce Red Blood Cells and Prevent Anemia
- Vitamin B12 is needed to help produce a healthy level of red blood cells. It helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness.
Signs and symptoms of possible B12 deficiency:
- Constantly feeling tired or chronic fatigue
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Joint pain
- Tingling in your extremities
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Feeling dizzy
- Poor memory
- Inability to concentrate well
- Mood changes, like increased depression and anxiety
- Having abnormal heart problems, such as palpitations
- Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
- Digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea or cramping
- A poor appetite
- A more serious deficiency can also cause a form of anemia called pernicious anemia, a serious condition that can cause memory loss, confusion and even long-term dementia
Compared to other vitamins, we don’t need high levels of vitamin B12 — but we do need to replenish our supply each day. B vitamins are water-soluble and are easily flushed out of the body, so to maintain levels of the recommended amount within our bloodstream and prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency; we need to eat food sources of B vitamins often.
If you think you might have a B12 deficiency, check with your primary care physician; a simple blood test will be done to check the levels of B12 in your blood.
Dr. Jessica Stensland is a busy family wellness Chiropractor in Urbandale, Iowa. She spends her weeks taking care of dozens of families. Not only does Dr. Jessica specialize in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic care, but she’s a board certified Acupuncturist. Dr. Jessica believes that a healthier community means taking care of all ages. She is a Minnesota native and enjoys seeing family and friends in her free time, in addition to staying active and reading the many books she has on her kindle.