Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins) is an essential B Vitamin. It is a water-soluble vitamin, this means that any excess is excreted in our urine, not stored in the body, so we need sufficient intake every day.
The body cannot produce B12 itself, so we need to consume enough in our diet, or increase our intake through supplementation. It is not always easy to obtain it from our diet. Industrial livestock production and selective breeding encourages forced feeding of genetically modified feed to produce the “bulkiest” meat, which kills beneficial bacteria within livestock's gut, inhibiting the absorption of B12 and doesn’t always account for the health of the animals. This means the amount we receive from consuming animal products, is low.
It is even more likely that those over 50, pregnant and breast-feeding individuals, those on medication and vegans/vegetarians will be deficient as the main sources in the diet are meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products. The best sources are liver, sardines, mackerel, lamb, salmon, cheese, beef and eggs. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients becomes impaired and medication can sometimes compete with nutrients for absorption. Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals need double the amount, as their baby will use their store of vitamins and minerals for growth and development.
Deficiency can cause low energy, lack of focus, tension in the muscles, poor memory, mood swings, lack of motivation, digestive issues, hypothyroidism and can even effect testosterone and fertility. These can lead to even more serious health problems and diseases, if left untreated. On the other hand, overdose may cause issues such as headaches, dizziness, rash, facial flushing, anxiety, swelling, diarrhoea, vomiting and high blood pressure. If you have any of these symptoms, stop taking the supplements and consult with your doctor.
The recommended daily intake for adults is 2.4ug. However, it is better to take a much higher dose than this because only a small percentage is absorbed fully by the body. The best form is Methylcobalamin or Cyanocobalamin. The most common form of supplements is Tablets, but you can also get Spray and Tablets in sublingual form, which are praised for their higher bioavailability. They do not rely on the presence of the intrinsic factor within the stomach to break them down, instead they rely on absorption through the skin or under the tongue.
Health Benefits Include:
Boost Energy Levels
It contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism and to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, by aiding the conversion of foods, particularly carbohydrates into a form of energy. It also contributes to the normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin. Red blood cells supply the cells with oxygen so they can function properly. This is supported by the idea that if you are deficient, you can be lethargic or fatigued.
Studies have also indicated that it is involved in neurotransmitter signalling that allows your muscles to contract and relax.
Hair, Skin and Nail Health
Deficiency can cause hyperpigmentation, redness and dryness of the skin, breakage of the nails and changes to the hair. Studies support the idea that treating deficiency through supplementation can reverse the effects on the hair, skin and nails as it has a role in cell division: generating new hair, skin and nail cells.
It acts as a cofactor for neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, these are key regulators in mood. Research has shown supplementation paired with conventional medication for mental health issues, such as depression has improved symptoms more so, than when conventional treatment was used alone. Vitamin B12 contributes to normal psychological and nervous system function.
Helps Prevent Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
It has been related to healthy cognitive functioning because of its part in neurotransmitter signalling and nerve health. Low levels have been associated with Vascular Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Improvement in cognition was seen in patients who had a pre-existing deficiency.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
The metabolism (breakdown) of homocysteine, an amino acid is reliant on B12. Higher levels of homocysteine have been associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Also, as it is involved in the synthesis of DNA; myelin sheath production is correlated to a higher level of protection for cells in the body. It has been suggested that it can improve unhealthy cholesterol levels and aid healthy blood pressure, two main risk factors of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Aids In Digestion
As it contributes to metabolism, it is needed to support the digestive enzymes and the breakdown of foods in the gut. This may contribute to healthy bacteria formation in the intestinal tract.
It contributes to the synthesis of DNA, meaning it is a key nutrient for foetal growth and development during pregnancy. There is an interaction between B12 and B9 (folic acid) which minimises the risk of birth defects, miscarriage and premature birth, this is why pregnant individuals are advised to increase their intake of both vitamins.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Recent studies have investigated the effects of B12 and B9 supplementation to help lower the risk of certain cancers. Low B12 status has been found in certain types of cancers, suggesting a link. As it contributes to the normal function of the immune system, it may be beneficial in potentially minimising the development of cancer.
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.
- Megaloblastic Anaemia (Vitamin B12 Deficiency) | HealthAid
- Key Nutritional Deficiencies and How to Prevent Them | HealthAid
- Feel Alive with our NEW B12 Vitamins — Nutravita
- Vitamin B12 Side Effects, What They Mean and More - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms, Causes and Treatment - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
- Vitamin B12 Benefits and Deficiency Symptoms - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
- Vitamin B-12 - Mayo Clinic
- Vitamin B12 - Consumer (nih.gov)
- Vitamin B12 For Mood, Fatigue & Nerves | FULL HEALTH SECRETS
- Vitamin B12 | FULL HEALTH SECRETS
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