Benefits of B-12: Are You Getting Enough?

A healthy diet includes a variety of vitamins to maintain a strong mind and body. Vitamin B-12 is vital for nerve function, healthy red blood cells, neurological health, and so much more. Getting the recommended amount of B-12 vitamins is an important part of preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not getting enough, you could show signs of B-12 deficiency.

Most people get enough B-12 from a varied, balanced diet. For those who do not, taking a B-12 supplement is the next best option.

Here are the benefits of B-12 and why it’s important to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily intake.

Energy Boost 

One of the greatest benefits of B-12 is its energy-boosting capabilities. These essential vitamins support healthy red blood cell formation.

Healthy red blood cells protect you against a type of anemia that can make you feel weak and sluggish. Vitamin B-12 plays a critical role in this process and in energy production.

If you’re deficient in B-12, increasing your dietary intake or adding a supplement to your daily health routine, may increase your energy level.

Vitamin B-12 is naturally found in meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, dairy products, fortified cereals, and other vitamin-enriched foods. If you feel you may have a vitamin deficiency, ask your doctor to check your B-12 levels with a simple blood test.

Healthy Red Blood Cells

Healthy red blood cells are essential to life itself. They carry oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and throughout the rest of your body.

They also carry harmful carbon dioxide away from the body. Vitamin B-12 is crucial for the production of red blood cells.

If you’re deficient in B-12, it impairs your output of red blood cells. This can result in megaloblastic anemia.

Symptoms of this type of anemia include fatigue, brain fog, clumsiness, and dry skin. Although there are other causes of anemia, a common culprit is B-12 deficiency.

There is a solution, however. Increasing your intake or taking a B-12 supplement may prevent or correct the problem.

Heart Health

Vitamin B-12 may play an important role in heart health. 

High levels of the protein homocysteine are linked to heart problems. When your vitamin B-12 levels are low, your homocysteine levels increase.

This protein can build up in your blood and arterial walls, contributing to heart disease. Vitamin B-12 can help decrease homocysteine levels and reduce your risk for heart-related issues. 

Prevent Birth Defects

Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in a healthy pregnancy. A baby’s brain and nervous system need adequate B-12 levels to develop properly.

Getting plenty of vitamin B-12 early in pregnancy may help lower the risk of certain birth defects, including neural tube defects.

Be sure to see your doctor regularly during pregnancy. Add plenty of foods rich in vitamin B-12 to your diet. Take prenatal vitamins if your doctor recommends them.

Taking a B-12 or B complex vitamin is another way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. 

Protect Your Eyes

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects your vision over time. Getting enough vitamin B-12 in your diet may help protect your eyesight and prevent this condition.

Elevated levels of homocysteine may increase your risk for macular degeneration. Taking B-12 vitamins may decrease the levels of this amino acid in the blood.

A diet that includes vitamins B-6, B-12, and folic acid may reduce the risk for this devastating eye disease. Further studies are needed to understand the role of these vitamins in vision health.

Neurological Benefits 

Vitamin B-12 may benefit your neurological health. Low levels of B-12 may affect the brain and lead to neuron loss and impaired function.

Lack of this essential vitamin could contribute to brain atrophy, confusion, and memory loss. Even a mild deficiency may contribute to memory problems.

Tingling and numbness may be a sign of Vitamin B-12 deficiency and an early sign of nerve damage. This can lead to balance and falling issues.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible. Vitamin B-12 deficiencies can be serious.

Getting enough vitamin B-12 may help protect your brain and memory function. 

Elevate Your Mood

The benefits of vitamin B-12 may extend to your mood. This vitamin plays a role in the production of serotonin which helps regulate your mood.

A lack of vitamin B-12 in the body can cause serotonin levels to drop, resulting in sadness or depression. In some people, vitamin B-12 supplements may improve symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Eating a diet of foods rich in vitamin B-12 or adding a supplement to your health regimen, may help you feel better and elevate your mood.

Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails

Healthy looking hair, skin, and nails are signs of good health and vitality.

Adequate intake of vitamin B-12 may benefit your hair, skin, and nails. Since B-12 plays a vital role in cell production, it naturally provides oxygen to these tissues of the body.

Low levels of this important vitamin can lead to dryness, nail discoloration, hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, and other dermatological issues. Supplementation may improve these symptoms in some people.

Many people deal with dry or brittle hair, skin, and nails. And there are other causes for these health issues. If you eat a well-balanced diet and still have these concerns, see your doctor to discuss possible causes.

Oral Health

The condition of your tongue can be very telling about your general health. Vitamin B-12 is also important to your oral health.

Even a mild deficiency can affect your mouth and lead to inflammation of the tongue. If your tongue looks dark red or swollen, it may indicate a vitamin deficiency.

Your tongue is naturally bumpy. If these tiny bumps appear stretched out or look like they’ve disappeared, this can also indicate B-12 deficiency. 

Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and have your doctor check your B-12 levels. If your levels are low, taking a B-12 supplement may be a solution.

Gut Health

Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber and drinking lots of water is good for your digestive health. But you may not realize the importance of B-12 for gut health.

A deficiency can lead to diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, or loss of appetite. Although there are many possible causes of digestive issues, B-12 deficiency can be the problem.

This is yet another reason to make sure you’re getting enough B-12 in your diet. Vitamin B-12 supplements may help with digestive issues and improve your gut health.

Vitamin B-12 in Foods 

Vitamin B-12 doesn’t occur naturally in plants. For this reason, vegans or vegetarians sometimes experience B-12 deficiency.

This important nutrient is found in meats such as chicken, beef, pork, fish, and clams. If you can’t get enough in your diet, taking a B-12 supplement is necessary.

Some people have difficulty absorbing vitamin B-12. Anyone, including meat- eaters, can experience a B-12 deficiency.

Certain medications such as anticonvulsants, metformin, and some antibiotics can deplete B-12 from the body. Many over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines and antacids, can hinder the absorption of B-12 as well.

Growing children, pregnant women, the elderly, smokers, and vegetarians are at risk for B-12 deficiency. 

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

This essential vitamin plays a huge role in nerve function, red blood cell production, and maintaining good overall health. Although most people who eat a balanced diet get plenty of vitamin B-12, others may be deficient due to age, diet, or chronic health conditions.

Signs of B-12 deficiency may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Depression
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet
  • Memory problems
  • Balance issues
  • Soreness of the tongue and mouth

If you’re experiencing one or more symptoms, see your doctor to discuss possible causes. Checking your B-12 levels requires a simple blood test.

The Many Benefits of B-12

Vitamin B-12 is crucial for a healthy mind and body. It supports many bodily functions and is essential for bone health, neurological health, gut health, mood, and healthy hair, skin, and nails.

There are so many benefits of B-12. If you do have a deficiency, you may need to eat more foods rich in B-12 or take a natural supplement.

Before taking anything new, you should talk to your doctor first to discuss what’s right for you.  

And before you go, be sure to take a look at our website dedicated to your health and wellbeing.

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