Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause a range of health consequences, which may worsen if left untreated. If you want to know more about this life-sustaining vitamin, all you need to do is to read this article. We have enumerated the critical benefits of vitamin B12, what are the deficiency of vitamin b12, and how it impacts your body.
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin, is an essential micronutrient that keeps your body functioning healthily. However, our body cannot produce this vitamin, and we need to obtain it from external food sources. This key nutrient is found mainly in animal products. These include dairy products, clams, beef, and sardines. Besides these, it is also found in dietary supplements and fortified foods.
Why Is Vitamin B12 Essential For Your Health?
According to the Nutrients Journal, vitamin B12 is not just important, but its deficiency can cause fatal outcomes for one’s health. It helps your body carry out several important processes and helps you stay healthier.
Here is a roundup of some of the most important benefits of vitamin B12:
1. Helps Prevent The Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
According to the World Health Organization, close to 55 million people around the world suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Not only this, but there are around 10 million new cases of this condition added each year. This progressive neurological condition is a leading cause of disability and distress among people.
According to the Cureus Journal, a deficiency of vitamin B12 causes the levels of methylmalonic acid and homocysteine to increase. This is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.
2. Helps in the Formation of Red Blood Cells
The red blood cells in your body have several important functions. Also known as erythrocytes, they carry oxygen from your lungs to tissues and bring carbon dioxide back to your lungs. Often referred to as the ‘key to life,’ they produce energy in the body and help in releasing wastes.
A low red blood cell count may lead to anaemia leading to fatigue, dizziness, palpitations, and irregular heartbeats. Vitamin B12 helps in the formation of red blood cells. Without this nutrient, the red blood cells become too large and do not divide normally. When left untreated, this may lead to defects in the brain, heart, or other organs in the body.
3. Prevents Birth Defects
Unborn babies are at risk of several birth defects such as underdevelopment of the brain and the skull or spina bifida that may cause partial paralysis. That’s not all, having a deficiency of this vitamin after pregnancy may lead to miscarriage or premature birth.
As verified by the Food Nutrition Bulletin, vitamin B12 reduces the risk of these neural tube defects significantly and helps a woman have a healthy pregnancy.
4. Gives You Energy
Almost all of us have felt sapped of energy at least once in our lives. This is characterized by feelings of being worn out, irritable, or tense. This is often attributed to a deficiency of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 acts as a cofactor for the production of succinyl-CoA, which allows aerobic respiration. This is the process through which your body breaks down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins and uses them for energy. These increased energy levels help in the repair and maintenance of your body tissues, allow you to function optimally, and keep your organs healthy.
5. Reduces the Risk of Depression and Anxiety
Depression is a major health problem that leads to disability and death. Certain symptoms of low levels of this vitamin mimic that of depression. These include changes in personality, mood swings, irritability, and outbursts of anger.
Vitamin B12 is often known as the ‘energy vitamin’. According to the Open Neurology Journal, the link between vitamin B12 deficiency and depression is clearly evident. The majority of patients with depression have been diagnosed with poor levels of vitamins.
6. Reduces the Risk of Sleep Disorders
Adequate sleep is critical for allowing your body to function optimally. This includes both your physical and neurological health. Inadequate sleep may lead to several chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart attack, etc. It also causes mood swings, irritability, and low productivity.
Vitamin B12 has a beneficial impact on your sleep-wake circadian rhythm and improves sleep patterns and consistency. Adequate levels of this vitamin also make you feel rested and less fatigued.
7. Boosts Heart Health
As verified by the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death around the world. Conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, rheumatic heart disease, etc., take around 17.9 million lives each year.
Deficiency in vitamin B12 levels is linked to increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. This is mainly due to higher levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid that acts as a marker for the early development of heart disease. One of the most important benefits of vitamin B12 is it helps to increase adequate levels of this vitamin that it lowers your homocysteine levels, which, in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease.
8. Improves the Health of Your Skin
Another important benefit of maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels is that it enhances the health and appearance of your skin. There are several reasons that make one’s skin lifeless and unhealthy. These include infections, inflammation, and even elevated triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Vitamin B12 is important for cell reproduction and helps in keeping the skin healthier and free of inflammation and infections. It also helps prevent and treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
9. Helps in the Treatment of Diabetes
According to the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, the deficiency of vitamin B12 is found to be highly prevalent among people with type-1 and type-2 diabetes mellitus. On the other hand, having diabetes can also increase your chances of developing low levels of vitamin B12.
This deficiency also increases one’s risk of serious complications related to diabetes. This condition is known as neuropathy and is caused by the detrimental effects of elevated levels of blood glucose in the body for a long period. Having adequate levels of this vitamin not just reduces your risk of getting this potentially serious condition but also aids in its treatment plan. This means that it allows you to respond better to your diabetes treatment.
10. Prevents Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a disease that affects your retina, also known as the macula. This condition damages your retina and results in the loss of central vision. If not treated in time, it tends to get worse.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of irreversible vision loss in millions of Americans over 60 years. Lower levels of vitamin B12 lead to lower homocysteine concentrations in the blood. This, in turn, increases your chance of getting macular degeneration. Supplementing your diet with vitamin B12 helps in preventing and slow down the progression of this condition and keeps your eyes healthier for a longer time.
11. Enhances Bone Health
As we age, our bones go through a lot of degeneration. This is due to several factors such as exercise, nutrition, genetics, and hormonal problems. Decreased bone density leads to bones becoming fragile over time. This leads to an increase in the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis.
The Nutrients Journal says that vitamin B12 has a protective role in bone health. It helps in preserving the structure of the bones and their mass. This prevents the risk of fractures.
12. Keeps Your Digestive System Healthy
Not many people know that vitamin B12 levels are closely connected to your gut health. Low levels of this vitamin mean that there is not enough oxygen in your blood. This happens because it interferes with the functioning of your red blood cells and their ability to carry oxygen to different organs of the body, including your digestive tract.
The absence of adequate oxygen may lead to several gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, nausea, constipation, bloat, etc. Maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels prevents these discomforting symptoms and keeps your gut health in perfect condition.
13. Aids Weight Loss
Obesity is a complicated health concern that leads to serious diseases if left untreated. Much more than just an aesthetic problem, it leads to several chronic health conditions, too.
As the World Health Organization confirms, obesity leads to millions of deaths each year around the world. When you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, you often experience symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and more. This interferes with your ability to work out regularly and lose weight in the long run.
14. Prevents Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a condition that makes a person experience ringing noises in one or both ears. It is a common problem that is more common in older adults. These ringing noises may come and go. Tinnitus is often considered to be a neurological symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency-related anemia.
Adequate levels of vitamin B12 helps create more myelin in your body. This compound acts as a protective cover that surrounds your nerves, improves your hearing, and reduces the risk of tinnitus.
15. Enhances Immunity
Your immune system is a system of proteins, cells, and organs that protect your body against infections and diseases. These cells in your immune system are dependent on the level of oxygen in your blood. This oxygen is delivered by the red blood cells, which in turn are a function of the levels of vitamin B12 in your body.
Low levels of this vitamin disrupt the functioning of the red blood cells. This leads to a weakening of your immune system and may lead to lowered defense against diseases.
The health benefits of vitamin B12 are numerous. Optimum levels of this micronutrient have a great impact on not just your physical health but also your cognitive functioning. It corrects critical body functions and treats several diseases. If you want to include vitamin B12 in your diet, we recommend that you take your physician’s advice before starting any supplements.