We hear it every day—eat a balanced diet so you can be healthy, but that isn’t something that everyone can boast about doing right. Here, we will discuss the vitamin B12 benefits for your body.
Many of us lead busy lifestyles; now more than ever, it is harder to find the time to prepare a balanced meal that meets all nutritional requirements. The result of this is that many of us are lacking key vitamins that our bodies need to perform at their best. Vitamin B12 is essential to many of the body’s functions and if your body is lacking this important nutrient, there are ways to fix it.
What is Vitamin B-12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in some foods and is often added to others. Also known as cobalamin, this vitamin is needed by your body but the body does not produce it. Therefore, it has to be added through food, dietary supplements, or B12 injections.
This essential vitamin supports the normal function of your nerve cells, DNA synthesis, and is used for red blood cell formation. The roles of Vitamin B12 in the body are many. It also serves the purpose of boosting your energy, improving memory, preventing heart disease, and slows physical aging. It provides invaluable benefits to the body and these are only some of the ways it helps.
How Much Vitamin B12 Do I Need?
Most adults are able to meet their required daily intake (RDI) of Vitamin B12 through their diet. It is found naturally in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, milk, cheese, and other dairy products. The average person consumes two or more of these every day. Fortified cereals make a great addition to the diet of vegetarians, which is helpful for them since this vitamin is not found in plant foods.
For most adults, the recommended daily intake is 2.4 mcg. It is generally higher for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Think of it this way, if you eat two eggs for breakfast (1.2 mcg of B12), three ounces of tuna for lunch (2.5 mcg of B12), and three ounces of beef for dinner (1.4 mcg of B12), you would consume more than double your daily B12 needs. But does everyone always eat the way they are supposed to?
Best Sources of Vitamin B12
As mentioned before, Vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal food sources, but it is also available in dietary supplement format as well as through injections. Though deficiency is rare, there is no downside to adding more of this vitamin to your diet.
See the amount of Vitamin B12 found in common foods below:
- Liver: 1/3 cup provides 881% of the RDI.
- Beef kidney: 1/3 cup provides 311% of the RDI.
- Canned salmon: 1/3 cup provides 61% of the RDI.
- Ground beef: 1/3 cup provides 40% of the RDI.
- Trout: 1/3 cup provides 61% of the RDI.
- Eggs: 2 large eggs provide 25% of the RDI.
- Chicken: 1/3 cup provides 3% of the RDI.
- Milk: 1 cup provides 20% of the RDI.
Vegans and vegetarians are at a disadvantage with getting enough Vitamin B12 in their diets because they don’t eat animal meat or products. B12 supplements will be essential to get the added amount they will need.
Older adults and people with issues with their digestive tract will also have lower B12 levels as their bodies struggle with the absorption of nutrients. This will make them more prone to Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 Benefits
There are many benefits to adding more Vitamin B12 to your diet. These include:
- Enhanced Brain Function – Increase your cognitive function by adding more B12 to your diet. Low levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to a decline in brain function and the development of dementia. This addition can help to increase your focus and attention span.
- Helps With Red Blood Cell Formation and Anemia Prevention – Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in helping your body produce red blood cells. Red blood cells fail to develop properly if your body does not have enough Vitamin B12. There is also a reduction in red blood cell formation in the absence of sufficient B12 levels and your body will experience an increase in fatigue.
Megaloblastic anemia is a type of anemia when the blood cells in the body are larger and have an irregular shape. Normal, healthy blood cells are small and round. The irregular shape of the red blood cells in an anemic person makes it impossible for the cells to move from the bone marrow into the bloodstream at a sufficient rate. Increasing your B12 levels will ensure your body has enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to your organs.
- Supports Bone Health and Prevents Osteoporosis – Vitamin B12 is great for your bone health. Reports have shown a link between low B12 levels and poor bone health and osteoporosis, so get ahead of the game and ensure you maintain adequate levels to support your bone health.
- Improves Mood and Symptoms of Depression – Vitamin B12 is not only beneficial to your physical health; it is known to positively affect your mental health as well. It plays a vital role in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin, the chemical responsible for regulating your mood. Increasing your Vitamin B12 levels can increase serotonin production and help with your mood and depression.
- May Give You an Energy Boost – If you need an energy boost, an increase in Vitamin B12 in your body can give you just that. Tiredness and fatigue are often caused by the body not having enough red blood cells to transport oxygen and nutrients. A boost in Vitamin B12 can help with this, whether through IV infusions such as Myer’s cocktail developed by Dr. John Myers, B12 shots, supplements, or diet.
- May Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease that mainly affects your central vision. You can reduce the risk of developing this or slow its progression by adding more Vitamin B12 to your body.
- Slows Down Memory Loss – Older patients can benefit from more B12 to help slow age-related memory loss. It also helps to improve memory and focus.
- Helps You Lose Weight – A lot of people will say they wish they were a few pounds lighter. Vitamin B12 gives your metabolism a boost and provides that extra kick you need to hit the gym with more energy.
- Improve Your Appearance – Do you want healthy skin, hair, and nails? Vitamin B12 is essential for these because of the role it plays in cell reproduction. It helps to renew your cells and rejuvenates dull-looking skin, hair, and nails, and causes them to look healthy and vibrant.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Now that you know the benefits of adding more Vitamin B12 to your body, how do you know if you are deficient?
Though there are so many food sources and supplements that can provide the required amount of Vitamin B12 we need, many people are still not getting enough each day. The symptoms of deficiency are also non-specific and therefore hard to diagnose. A blood test can be used to concretely say if someone is deficient.
Some symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include depression, confusion, fatigue, memory issues, weight loss, constipation, and more. As mentioned above, the symptoms are non-specific and can be the result of many other illnesses or deficiencies.
Neurological issues also appear in the advanced stage of the deficiency. These are numbness and tingling in the hands and feet or difficulty maintaining your balance. You can also experience twitching, tremors, and irritation.
So that guy on the train beside you who can’t stop twitching might just need a shot of Vitamin B12 to get his body back to normal.
Anemia is also a common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency, which we detailed above.
Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Common?
Most cases of Vitamin B12 deficiency go undetected because the symptoms are so general.
Those more at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- People with gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
- Older adults
- People on a strict vegan diet
- Those taking proton pump inhibitors for chronic heartburn
- Those who take medication for blood sugar control
- Those who have had gastrointestinal surgeries
- People who are unable to absorb Vitamin B12 because of a medical condition
Benefits of Vitamin B12 Injections
If your body has difficulty absorbing vitamin B12, your doctor may recommend B12 injections to increase your B12 levels. They are the most common way to prevent or treat a deficiency, instead of waiting on diet changes or supplements to work. The injections are prescribed by a doctor and injected into the muscle.
Vitamin B12 injections are not only used for deficiencies but also to prevent one or to enhance the appearance, energy levels, and cognitive function of the patient. Family First Chiropractic is an experienced provider of Vitamin B12 shots that will get you back in tip-top health. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
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