March 07, 2020 4 min read
The human body uses vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out other functions. The body utilizes B12 in many other ways, but the big issue is that it’s an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. However, it can also be found in products fortified with B12, such as some varieties of bread and plant-based milk.
You might be surprised to hear that having a B12 deficiency isn’t that much of a rarity nowadays. You’re at risk of deficiency if you’re not getting enough out of your diet or if you’re not able to absorb the B12 from the food you’ve digested.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may include:
When you have adequate levels of B12, you’ll receive the following benefits:
Let’s go into the details for some of these benefits.
May Support Bone Health
Maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels may support your bone health. A study was carried out with 2,500 adults to see if there was any correlation between B12 deficiency and bone density. Results showed that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency also had lower than normal bone density.
Bones with decreased mineral density can become delicate and fragile over time, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Helps with Red Blood Cell Formation and Anemia Prevention
B12 deficiency causes a reduction in red blood cell formation and prevents them from developing properly. Healthy red blood cells are small and round, whereas they become larger and typically oval in cases of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Due to this larger and irregular shape, the red blood cells are unable to move from the bone marrow into the bloodstream at an appropriate rate, causing megaloblastic anemia. When you’re anemic, your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to your vital organs. This can cause symptoms like fatigue and weakness.
May Improve Mood & Symptoms of Depression
B12 plays a vital role when it comes to the regulation of serotonin. If one was deficient in B12, that may cause one’s serotonin production to decrease, which could lead to a depressed mood. Studies support the use of vitamin B12 supplements for improving symptoms of depression in people deficient in this vitamin.
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. Vitamin B12 supplements may help improve mood and depression in people with a deficiency.
May give you an Energy Boost
All B vitamins play an important role in your body’s energy production, though they don’t necessarily provide energy themselves. Currently, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that vitamin B12 supplements can boost energy in those with sufficient levels of this vitamin.
However, one of the common early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue or lack of energy. That’s why you can take a supplement to restore your B12 levels and revitalize your body.
May Benefit your Brain by Preventing the Loss of Neurons
This vitamin may play a large role in preventing brain atrophy, which is the loss of neurons in the brain and often associated with memory loss or dementia. 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. As a result, supplementing with this vitamin may improve memory.
Supports Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails
Given vitamin B12’s role in cell production, adequate levels of this vitamin are needed to promote healthy hair, skin and nails.
In fact, low vitamin B12 levels can cause various dermatologic symptoms, including hyperpigmentation, nail discoloration, hair changes and more. Supplementing with vitamin B12 has been shown to improve dermatologic symptoms in people with B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that your body excretes what you don’t need in your urine. Daily intake for vitamin B12 is typically around 2.4 mcg for adults.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that you must obtain through diet or supplements. It’s responsible for many bodily functions and may benefit your health in various ways, such as supporting bone health, improving mood and maintaining healthy skin and hair.
Getting enough vitamin B12 through your diet is crucial. However, if you struggle to obtain enough or have a condition that affects absorption, supplements are a simple way to increase your B12 intake.
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