Vitamin B12 plays a central role in the creation of red blood cells while boosting energy levels and helping bolster memory.
B12 is not a vitamin that the body produces naturally, like vitamin D. That means you need to get this important vitamin from the food you eat. But many people do not get enough.
Vitamin B12 supplements are a smart, affordable way for those who don’t get enough B12 their regular diet to make up for the shortfall and reap the benefits.
10 Benefits Of Vitamin B12
B12 plays an important role in a number of metabolic and physiological processes, so getting enough is crucial. Here are some of the most obvious benefits of supplementing with B12.
1: Vitamin B12 can prevent anemia.
Anemia is when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues. This is critical for your body to survive and work adequately because your organs must have oxygen to function. You may experience fatigue, skin pallor, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, or a fast heartbeat if you have anemia.
If your vitamin B12 levels are too low, you could have a lower count of red blood cells. One study shows the benefits of vitamin B12 as a treatment option for pernicious anemia (1). This type of anemia is when your body can’t absorb enough vitamin B12.
You can increase your vitamin B12 naturally by eating animal products, such as meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products, although it’s beneficial and more effective to take a high dosage vitamin B12 supplement.
2: Vitamin B12 may help prevent birth defects.
A study found that women were three times more likely to give birth to a child with birth defects when their vitamin B12 levels were below 250 mg/Dl (2).
The most common birth defects are heart defects, cleft lip and palate, Down syndrome, and spina bifida. They’re caused by genetic factors and environmental injuries, including infection, radiation, and drug exposure. Although, improving your vitamin B12 levels can decrease the risks of these defects from forming because a vitamin B12 deficiency affects the fetus.
3: Vitamin B12 may decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
A study of more than 2500 adults found the ones with lower vitamin B12 levels to have a lower bone mineral density as well (3). Bone health is important for you to move properly, and your bones protect your brain, heart, and other organs from injury.
Of course, vitamin D is an important vitamin for your bone health, but little is known about the detrimental effects a vitamin B12 deficiency can have on your bone health. In fact, it’s recommended you combine vitamin D and vitamin B12 for healthy bones.
Women are especially noted to experience less bone density when their vitamin B12 levels are low (4).
4: Vitamin B12 could reduce your risk of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that could get worse as you age. It’s from the result of your macula, a small central portion of your retina, wearing down, and it’s the leading cause of permanent vision loss if you’re over the age of 60.
One study concluded that supplementing with a vitamin B12 agent may reduce the risk of macular degeneration in women. Over 5,000 women aged 40 or older were examined to support this (5).
5: Vitamin B12 could improve your mental health.
One study discovered that patients with depression improved their symptoms better when they combined vitamin B12 with antidepressants as opposed to taking antidepressants alone. It linked vitamin B12 deficiency to individuals being twice as likely to suffer depression (6).
Depression can arise from abuse, such as physical, environmental, or drug abuse, or from a chemical imbalance in your brain. Vitamin B12 can help balance out any chemical imbalances in your brain by increasing your GABA, dopamine, and serotonin levels. These are all crucial neurotransmitters to feel calm and happy.
Of course, it’s always advisable to seek medical help if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression.
6: Vitamin B12 may enhance your memory.
In 2016, one study found a correlation between combining vitamin B12 with omega-3 fatty acids. This dynamic duo slows the effects of dementia (7). Vitamin B12 prevents the loss of neurons that are responsible for your memory. This is especially important to take care of as you age since memory loss is more prevalent as you get older.
7: Vitamin B12 could boost your energy.
Since vitamin B12 is crucial for creating red blood cells in your body, it plays a huge role in your energy levels. If you’re not supplying your body and tissues with enough oxygen, you can expect to experience some serious fatigue. One study linked fatigue to vitamin B12 deficiency (8).
8: Vitamin B12 might improve your heart health.
Blood homocysteine is a type of amino acid that increases your risk of heart disease. A vitamin B12 deficiency raises your homocysteine levels, but studies show that you can offset this with a vitamin B12 supplement (9).
9: Vitamin B12 could improve your hair, skin, and nail health.
Low vitamin B12 levels are associated with dermatologic symptoms that negatively affect your hair, skin, and nails (10). Your cells affect your skin health, and since vitamin B12 helps with cell production, it’s good for your skin. Also, oxygen-rich blood cells are important for hair follicles, so it’s vital for hair growth.
10: Vitamin B-12 may help reduce anxiety
There is some evidence to suggest that supplementing with B12 and other B vitamins can help relieve anxiety levels (11). The changes in anxiety observed by researchers is not necessarily dramatic but it is sufficient to warrant recommending B vitamins along with other therapies to deal with anxiety.
Because vitamin B12 is not produced by the body you must get all the B12 you need from external sources. However, many people do not eat sufficient quantities of seafood, red meat or other foods that are common sources of B12. For those with a B12 shortfall supplementation is a wise and affordable way to ensure long-term cognitive and cardiovascular health, to ward off anemia and to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.