Vitamin B12 refers to a family of cobalamin compounds. This is a water-soluble vitamin and is not stored in the body.
Why is Vitamin B12 important?
All vitamins – whether it is Vitamin B, Vitamin C or Vitamin E -are required by the body in small quantities as you are well aware. Vitamin B12 has several important roles to play. It supports nerve cell function, RBC production and DNA synthesis.
Here are all the ways Vitamin B12 helps your body –
Vitamin B12 is crucial for cell production and thus plays an important role in having and maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails. So, if you’ve been suffering from skin issues or massive hair fall, you might want to get your Vitamin B12 levels checked out.
- Energy Boost – Are you often tired as soon as you wake up? Fatigue is the most common sign that your body is deficient in Vitamin B12. Taking a dose of Vitamin B12 supplements can really improve your mood and boost your energy.
- Reduce neuron loss – Brain atrophy or the loss of brain neurons is a common occurrence in older adults. Vitamin B12 can improve memory and help delay the process.
- Elevate mood – Not only does Vitamin B12 help with fatigue but it also improves your mood significantly. Vitamin B12 helps synthesize serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes the feeling of happiness.
- Supports bone health – Vitamin B12 is crucial for bone development and helps prevents osteoporosis especially in older women.
- Prevents anemia – Vitamin B12 jacks up the production of red blood cells. RBCs deliver oxygen to the blood. A deficiency of Vitamin B12 can cause reduced production of RBCs which leads to megaloblastic anemia. When your body doesn’t get enough oxygen, you will feel extremely weak and tired.
- Supports eye health – Want to maintain perfect vision? Make sure you are not deficient in Vitamin B12. Macular degeneration is a common occurrence as people get older. But according to studies, healthy Vitamin B12 levels can lower the risk of macular degeneration by 41%
How to tell if you are deficient in Vitamin B12
You can develop these three conditions if you have a deficiency –
- Pernicious anemia
- Anemia of folate deficiency
- Food cobalamin malabsorption – lemon-yellow tint in skin and eyes
You may also notice these symptoms –
- Impaired intelligence
- Impaired spatial ability
- Short-term memory loss
- Creeping paralysis
- Tingling and burning of the feet
- Stiffness and generalised weakness of the legs
What causes a Vitamin B12 deficiency
Usually, it is not that your body lacks Vitamin B12 but that it has been unable to absorb it. This can happen for two reasons – a lack of HCL or intrinsic factor.
This can happen to people over 50 as their body does not produce enough HCL and people with vegan diets as they do not get enough Vitamin B12 from their diet. In such cases, supplements make more sense.
The best sources of Vitamin B12 are meat, poultry, eggs, fish and milk products. If you do not consume any of these, you will need to take Vitamin B12 supplements until your reach healthy levels.