Cobalamin (Vitamin B12), a water-soluble vitamin, plays important roles in your body. The recommended daily intake for this vitamin is 2.4 mcg per day for adults.
Vitamin B12 food sources include dairy products, fish, meat and poultry. Vitamin B12 is also available on the market as an oral supplement and is added to some foods. For those on a vegan diet, products such as Nutritional Yeast can provide a viable source of B12. Vitamin B12 nasal spray or injections can be prescribed in the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Deficiency is rare because the human body is able to store vitamin B12 that can be used for several years. However, for those following a vegan diet or vegetarian diet, they can be susceptible to deficiency since plant foods do not contain vitamin B12. Individuals with digestive tract disorders that affect nutrients abortions and older adults are also prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Here are some of the health benefits of vitamin B12.
Helps with Anaemia Prevention and Red Blood Cells
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of red blood cells in your body. Low vitamin B12 levels lead to a reduction in the formation of red blood cells and inhibit them from developing properly. When the red blood cells are healthy, they are small and round. When you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, the red blood cells will become larger and oval in shape. As a result, the red blood cells won't be able to move from your bone marrow and go into your bloodstream at a proper rate, which results in megaloblastic anaemia.
When you are anaemic, your body does not have adequate red blood cells for transporting oxygen to all your vital organs. This can lead to symptoms such as weakness and fatigue.
May Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)
ARMD is an eye condition that often affects your central vision. To prevent the risk of macular degeneration, maintaining sufficient Vitamin B12 level is important. Researchers say that if you supplement with vitamin B12, you may lower homocysteine, a non-proteinogenic alpha-amino acid found in the bloodstream. Elevated levels of homocysteine have been linked with an increased risk of ARMD.
May Prevent Osteoporosis by Supporting Bone Health
Maintaining sufficient vitamin B12 levels in the body may support bone health. A study revealed that those having a vitamin B12 deficiency had lower than normal BMD (bone mineral density), the amount of bone mineral in your tissue.
Bones with reduced mineral density can become fragile and delicate over time, which can result in an increased risk of the disease called osteoporosis. Also, other studies have proved a link between osteoporosis plus poor bone health and vitamin B12 levels, especially in women.
May Improve Symptoms of Depression and Mood
Your body needs vitamin B12 to produce serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), a chemical that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. People with a vitamin B12 deficiency can take vitamin B12 supplements to help them improve their mood. Studies support patients deficient in vitamin B12 to use vitamin B12 supplements to improve symptoms of depression.
May Decrease Homocysteine and Improve Heart Health
High blood levels of the amino acid have been associated with an increased risk of getting heart disease. If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, your levels of homocysteine become elevated. Studies have revealed that vitamin B12 helps in decreasing the levels of homocysteine. In turn, this may lessen your risk of getting heart disease.
May Give an Energy Boost
B vitamins play a vital role in the body's energy production, although they do not provide energy themselves. If you are deficient in Vitamin B12, you will experience symptoms such as lack of energy or fatigue. Increasing your vitamin B12 intake or taking a supplement may significantly improve your energy level.
Can Prevent Major Birth Defects
Having sufficient vitamin B12 is crucial if you are pregnant. Studies have revealed that the brain and nervous system of a fetus require adequate B12 levels from the pregnant mother in order to develop properly.
If the mother doesn't have sufficient vitamin B12 in the early stages of pregnancy, it increases the risk of congenital disorder (birth defects), like neural tube defects. Moreover, maternal vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to miscarriage or premature birth.
Generally, the key to having a healthy pregnancy is appropriate B12 levels. They are essential for the prevention of spinal cord and brain birth defects.
Supports Healthy Nails, Skin and Hair
Given the tole of vitamin B12 in the production of cells, adequate vitamin B12 levels are required to promote healthy nails, skin and hair. In fact, low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to various dermatologic symptoms, including angular stomatitis, vitiligo, hair changes, nail discolouration and hyperpigmentation.
It has been shown that when people deficient in vitamin B12 take a supplement of this vitamin, it improves dermatologic symptoms.