When it comes to supplements, we hear a lot about antioxidants like turmeric, bone-boosting calcium, and super greens. Rarely do you hear anyone talking about the benefits of vitamin B12.
But it is time that B12 got its due!
Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for everyday health with a wide range of functions, particularly for our nervous system and metabolic health. Considering how important B12 is, it is scary that 5 to 15% of US adults have a B12 deficiency.
The good thing about B12 supplements is that you can’t overdose on them – B vitamins are water-soluble and any excess will just be released in your urine. On the flip side, those massive doses of B12 could provide some great health benefits. Here are just the top 12 benefits of B12.
1. B12 Gives You Energy
Feeling fatigued and tired all the time? One of the symptoms of B12 deficiency is fatigue, which is due to the fact that B12 helps convert food we eat into energy. Doctors have recommended B12 to “End Energy Crises.”
Note that there is still a lot of debate as to whether B12 helps boost energy in people without a deficiency. Even if you are deficient in B12, be warned that it can take time to restore your B12 reserves so don’t expect immediate benefits. Healing takes time!
2. B12 Fights Depression
As the Mayo Clinic talks about here, B12 and the other B vitamins play an important role in producing brain chemicals. Low levels of B12 are thus linked to depression.
Researchers have probed further into the B12-depression link. In one study published here, it was found that supplementing with vitamin B12 significantly improved depression compared to the control group.
3. B12 Helps Heart Health
Vitamin B12 acts with folic acid and B6 to control homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine are linked to heart disease – the #1 killer in the USA right now. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that people worried about heart disease should talk to their doctors about whether to take a B12 supplement.
4. B12 Improves Memory
Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to brain shrinkage, memory loss, and dementia – as is evident in B12’s role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
While it is clear that B12 deficiency is bad for memory, the research still isn’t conclusive as to whether B12 will improve memory in health people. However, as Progressive Health points out, most studies don’t last long enough to measure results accurately. They point to the 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This study followed patients for two years. After one year, there was no difference between the B12 group and the control group. After two years though, the B12 group had statistically-significant improvements.
Once again, this study shows that you can’t expect benefits from B12 right away. It takes time for B12 to produce results!
5. B12 Keeps You Looking Young
One of the most important roles of B12 is in synthesizing DNA. Without enough B12, you won’t be able to generate new DNA for cells and signs of aging will occur. Thus, it is no wonder that this study on Aging and DNA Methylation published in the journal BMC Biology says that, “It is currently assumed that regular intake of nutrients involved in the metabolism of the methyl group, like folic acid or vitamin B12, can slow down the gradual hypomethylation observed during the aging process.”
6. B12 Protects Against Cancer
Just as B12 protects cells against aging, it can also protect against cancer. As Linus Pauling Institute talks about, B12 deficiency means that DNA synthesis might malfunction resulting in damage which can lead to cancer. Studies have found that B12 deficiency is linked to various cancers (including breast cancer) and one study also found that subjects who supplements with folic acid and B12 had lower amounts of chromosome breakage than the control group.
7. B12 Is Good for the Digestive System
One of the surprising benefits of B12 is that it is good for your digestive system. Deficiency can cause symptoms like constipation and abdominal pain. The last thing you need is constipation backing up your digestive system with toxic waste!
8. B12 Is Good for Your Skin
A lot of people don’t know that B12 deficiency can cause skin problems like:
- Dark spots
- Dull, dry skin
The reason for this has to do with how B12 regulates melatonin production (dark spots), cytokines (eczema), and DNA synthesis (healthy-looking skin).
9. B12 Is Also Good for Your Hair and Nails
You can apply creams to your hair and nails, but real health comes from within. You need healthy cells to have strong hair and nails! B12 helps because it supports DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and even can stimulate hair regrowth by strengthening follicles.
10. B12 Keeps Hormones Balanced
Whether you are concerned about reducing PMS symptoms or increasing your fertility, B12 matters. As Bioidentical Hormone Experts talk about here, B12 is connected to hormone cycles and studies show that B12 deficiency is linked to irregular cycles and infertility. It isn’t just women who need B12 for their hormones though. Men’s hormones are also affected!
They also note studies which show that birth control pills can decrease absorption of B12. So, if you are on birth control, you should consider a B12 supplement.
11. B12 Is Necessary for Producing Red Blood Cells
Your red blood cells – which are what deliver oxygen to the body – ar emade up of a chemical called hemoglobin. You need B12 to produce hemoglobin. Without enough B12, you’ll end up with anemia and its symptoms like fatigue, weakness, easy bruising, and forgetfulness.
How to Increase B12 Intake?
The RDA for vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4mcg. There are a lot of foods which contain vitamin B12. Some of the best sources of vitamin B12 are listed below (per 100 gram serving):
- Clams: 99mcg
- Liver: 60-90mcg
- Oysters: 29mcg
- Caviar: 20mcg
- Mackerel: 18mcg
- Chicken giblets: 9.4mcg
(Sorry vegans, but vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. Thus, all vegans should take a vitamin B12 supplement!)
What About B12 Supplements?
Vitamin B12 is exclusively found in animal products, particularly meat. Eating meat is linked to cancer, heart disease, and obesity – not to mention its impact on the environment.
Thus, a lot of people are turning to supplements to get their vitamin B12.
For vitamin B12 supplements, you should know that:
- There are two main forms of B12 supplements: The Methylcobalamin form is is better absorbed by the body than the cyanocobalamin form.
- Sub-lingual B12 is best: B12 supplements which are taken under the tongue sidetrack the digestive system and get into the bloodstream faster. Sprays and liquids are also good choices over capsules/tablets.
- It is best to take B12 daily: The body is capable of storing vitamin B12 for some period of time. However, it is still best to replenish your body’s supply of B12 with a lower daily dosage rather than taking a larger weekly dosage.
Here are two B12 supplements which are worth considering. Both are sublingual and the methylcobalamin form of B12 for better absorption.
Live Wise Naturals B12 – Buy Here
Source Naturals B12 – Buy Here
Do you take Vitamin B12? Why?
Image credit: “B12” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by masmad