Vitamins are necessary nutrients for your body to function properly. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamin group are among the 13 essential vitamins for your general health. These help to keep your body healthy by performing a multitude of functions. Some of them help you fight infections and keep your nerves healthy, while others help with digestion, blood coagulation, and so on.
Sticking to a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods helps you obtain a lot of these nutrients. However, the modern lifestyle makes it increasingly hard to get enough vitamins in your body solely through food. The B12 vitamin (also known as cobalamin) is one of these important vitamins that play multiple roles in your body – from improving your appearance to boosting red blood cell production
Your body can’t produce this vitamin on its own, so it’s crucial to get enough B12 from outside sources, such as food and supplements. Read on to learn more about the functions of this essential nutrient, as well as how to implement it in your diet.
Why Consider Supplementing with Vitamin B12?
With the fast-paced lifestyles that we have today, it’s difficult to intricately plan every meal. This means lowering the intake of essential vitamins and minerals, which can lead to a lot of health issues. B12 is a vitamin found in most types of meat and dairy. If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or have limited meat and dairy intake – you’re not getting enough of this important vitamin.
To boost your intake, consider taking vitamin B12 capsules or tablets. They usually contain up to 1000 mcg of B12, so they’re extremely potent. Because these supplements do not include any animal products, they are perfect for vegans and vegetarians. Certain tablets also come without any added sweeteners, flavours or artificial colours. These are beneficial for people suffering from a B12 deficiency, those that want to keep their blood pressure in check, or anyone that’s seeking to maintain their general wellbeing.
However, you should keep in mind that not all of these products are suitable for everyone. Before you begin taking supplements, read the label carefully and speak with your healthcare professional.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B12?
B12 carries out a number of functions in the body. It helps your nerve cells function normally, and assists in the production of red blood cells and in DNA synthesis. This benefits your body in many different ways. Although vitamin B12 is beneficial for people of all ages and genders, it’s especially important for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Below are some of the crucial benefits of vitamin B12:
Low B12 levels cause red blood cell creation to slow down. They get larger and oval as a result, whereas healthy red blood cells are small and round. Megaloblastic anemia occurs when your body’s red blood cells are insufficient to supply oxygen to the important organs. Common side effects of this type of anemia are fatigue and weakness.
Prevents Birth Defects
B12 helps promote a healthy pregnancy. According to studies, it aids in the development of a healthy brain and neurological system in the fetus. On the other hand, deficiency in B12 leads to certain birth issues such as neural tube defects. It’s also linked to miscarriages and premature birth. For this reason, pregnant women benefit the most from vitamin B12 supplements.
Crucial for Healthy Bones
Many studies show that people who are deficient in B12 have a lower bone mineral density than normal. Over time, bones with low mineral density can become frail and fragile, which increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Enhances Your Energy Levels
If you’re feeling sluggish or under the weather – you might be lacking some beneficial B12. In fact, exhaustion or a lack of energy is one of the most prevalent early indicators of vitamin B12 deficiency. Taking a supplement or boosting your intake through food will enhance your energy level.
Helps Improve brain function
The vitamin is linked to the prevention of brain atrophy, or the loss of neurons in the brain, which typically leads to memory loss or dementia. According to one study, a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid supplements delayed mental decline in adults with early-stage dementia.
Promotes Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
B12 greatly supports your hair, skin, and nail health because of its role in producing cells. In fact, people with a deficiency often show dermatologic symptoms, such as hyperpigmentation, loss of skin colour, discolouration of the nails, changes in the hair and stomatitis.
What Are the Side Effects of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
The symptoms of a B12 deficiency take a long time to appear, however, they can greatly impact your day-to-day life. The first signs are typically fatigue or weakness. As mentioned, megaloblastic anemia, a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, causes these symptoms. Even in those who don’t develop megaloblastic anemia, B12 deficiency can harm the body in many other ways, therefore it’s critical to treat it as soon as possible.
Pale skin, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, weight loss, and infertility are all possible symptoms. Nerve problems can cause numbness or tingling in your hands and feet. Other signs of B12 insufficiency include issues with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, impaired memory, and discomfort of the mouth or tongue. Failure to thrive, delays in reaching developmental milestones, and megaloblastic anemia are all symptoms in newborns.
Which Foods Are High in B12?
Avoiding or treating B12 deficiency is made easy by improving your diet and including vitamin B12 capsules or tablets. If you want to add foods rich in B12 to your diet, these are the most potent sources:
- Liver, beef, or chicken
- Fish such as trout, salmon, or tuna
- Fortified cereal
- Low-fat dairy products
Apart from fortified breakfast cereals, there are only a few other vegan B12 sources. If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, it’s essential that you strengthen your diet with a B12 supplement.