Health & Habits
The Benefits of Vitamin B12
Posted June 21, 2021
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is necessary to keep our bodies functioning properly. It’s a water-soluble vitamin in the vitamin B complex that keeps nerves and red blood cells healthy, contributes to the successful synthesis of DNA, and promotes normal functioning of the nervous system. Because it plays such an important role in so many body functions, it’s critical we receive adequate levels through our diets. It’s a regular topic of conversation between vegans and vegetarians since it’s only found naturally in animal products such as eggs, beef, fish, poultry and dairy. However, omnivores fall short on this vitamin as well, so it’s crucial we all investigate the amount we get on a daily basis.
While it’s hard to narrow down all the benefits of B12, here are some of the most notable:
1. Helps Maintain Energy Levels
Vitamin B12 benefits your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into usable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, which is why people with deficiencies often experience fatigue. Research shows that vitamin B12 is also needed for neurotransmitter signaling that helps our muscles contract and gives us energy to go about our days without feeling tired and run down.
2. 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, also known as vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness. Research published by Mayo Clinic indicates that a number of individuals with B12 deficiency may present with classic megaloblastic anemia, a blood disorder that occurs when bone marrow produces large, abnormal red blood cells or megaloblasts.
3. Aids in Digestion
Due to its role in helping with digestive enzyme production, B12 is needed to support a healthy metabolism and the breakdown of foods within the stomach. One of the ways that vitamin B12 benefits digestion is its proven ability to help foster healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract - and simultaneously the presence of beneficial bacteria - is what prevents digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease or candida.
4. Improves cognitive function
Healthy B12 levels are needed for maintaining the health of vital nerve cells in the body, including those needed for neurotransmitter signaling. It also helps to form the protective covering of nerves called the “myelin sheath”. When B12 levels drop, so too does cognitive function. We may notice unusual mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and tingling or numbness in our hands or feet. Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, studies have shown that B12 benefits cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Despite all of these important benefits, millions of people around the world are still vitamin B12 deficient. It’s one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world, and is a major health concern in many areas including the U.S., India, Mexico, Central America, South America and certain areas in Africa. Vegans, vegetarians, those with dietary restrictions, and individuals with gastrointestinal disorders are just a few of the groups who are at risk for B12 deficiency.
Some symptoms of a deficiency include:
- Lack of concentration
- Menstrual disorders
- A smooth, sore tongue
- Difficulty walking
- Poor memory
- Pale or jaundiced skin
- Pins and needles
As the human body does not create vitamin B12 on its own, we must get this nutrient from our diet. Those following a plant-based diet should especially include foods fortified with B12 or a B12 supplement in their diets. Many supplements today contain cyanocobalamin as the active B12 ingredient, which the liver must first detoxify and modify to create methylcobalamin. This is the active form of vitamin B12 that is essential for processes involved in cardiac function, sleep, blood cell formation, and nerve function. Essential by Vedge provides vitamin B12 already in this active form, and clinical studies have shown that the body uses methylcobalamin more efficiently than cyanocobalamin. With just one capsule, we can ensure we receive enough of this crucial vitamin to optimize our health.
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O'Leary, Fiona, and Samir Samman. “Vitamin B12 in health and disease.” Nutrients vol. 2,3 (2010): 299-316. doi:10.3390/nu2030299
Wolffenbuttel, Bruce H R et al. “The Many Faces of Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency.” Mayo Clinic proceedings. Innovations, quality & outcomes vol. 3,2 200-214. 27 May. 2019, doi:10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.03.002
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