There are many benefits of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 refers to a group of chemicals known as cobalamins, due to the fact that they all contain the metal cobalt.
This vitamin is critical for the normal functioning of the human body.
What are the benefits of Vitamin B12? It helps to create the sheaths that surround our nerves, ensuring, in essence, that they don’t short-circuit.
It works towards the creation of red blood cells, and helps our bodies to metabolize protein, carbohydrates, and more on a cellular level.
The benefits of vitamin B12 are many and varied. It is believed to decrease the risk of both cardiovascular problems and of various cancers.
Breast cancer is especially indicated as a subgroup in which B12 may play a special role.
Adequate intake of vitamin B12 during pregnancy dramatically reduces the risk of neural tube defects (which can actually be caused by decreased vitamin levels).
Among the benefits of Vitamin B12, ongoing studies are examining the link between vitamin B12 and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as that of other dementias, as reduced levels of vitamin B12 have been found in these patients.
So important is B12 in depression prevention that it is quickly being added to the screening regimen for it.
Best Food Sources
The benefits of Vitamin B12 are found in meat, with smaller amounts found in milk products. It is not normally present in vegetables or other plant products.
Steamed clams are extremely high in B12. Mussels have a relatively large amount, though hardly comparable to the large amount found in clams, with crabs exhibiting about half the amount found in mussels.
This makes fish one of the better sources, followed by beef, then poultry and egg.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
People often wonder what causes vitamin b12 deficiency, also known as pernicious anemia (although pernicious anemia really only refers to one part of the problem).
Vegetarians, for one, are at serious risk, especially if they do not consume milk products, since vitamin b12 is not found in plant products. Many vegetarians lose the benefits of Vitamin B12.
Digestive problems can also lead to a poor absorption of the vitamin, and hence a deficiency. Various illnesses, medications, and especially being elderly are all risk factors, as well.
At least 1 out of every 10 people is believed to suffer from vitamin b12 deficiency. This is especially concerning because symptoms of deficiency can be so severe.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency tend to be gradually occurring. Fortunately, diagnosis can be made in this base based upon simple blood tests.
Symptoms may include:
- Tongue soreness
- Numbness, tingling, shooting pains, related to nerve damage especially in the hands and feet
- Trouble walking
- Weight loss, anorexia
- Digestive problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, and heart burn
Eventually, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to brain damage and permanent damage to the nerves. Clearly, this insidious problem should be carefully avoided by ingesting appropriate levels of the vitamin.
Vitamin B12 Toxicity
This vitamin has such a low toxicity that the FDA did not give it an upper limit. The body can only absorb so much of vitamin B12 and the rest is eliminated from the body.
Because the risk of toxicity is low, the benefits of Vitamin B12 far outweigh any chance of toxicity.
Best Way to Get Vitamin B12
Even though scientists have shown that vitamin B12 can be stored in your body, many are still deficient, which is why health supplements are recommended.
They have also found that B12 should be taken with folic acid because they work synergistically and enhance each others’ health benefits.
The problem today is that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, so it is hard to find something that is both safe and effective.
One company that I personally use and have recommended to my friends and family is Xtend-Life.
We use their flagship product, Total Balance, which not only contains B12 and folic acid, but also all the other vitamins and minerals, alongside with antioxidants, flavonoids and other specialty nutrients.