Vitamin B12 is one of those nutrients the human body absolutely needs. That’s why it is categorized as an essential nutrient. Among other things, it helps create the DNA and is also critical for the nervous system and the brain to do their jobs. But we’ll get to its benefits in a minute.
Major Sources And Anti Aging Benefits Of Vitamin B12
As important as it is, unfortunately, the human body cannot produce vitamin B12 on its own. And a B12 deficiency can lead to a lot of problems which we will look into. Here’s all you need to know about vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12: What Is It?
Also called cobalamin, vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products and it can also be made in a lab. So, luckily for a lot of us, vitamin B12 is added separately to many foods that are regularly consumed and easily available in the market.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is often the result of the absence of a protein that has a major role in helping the human body absorb this nutrient. And when you don’t have enough B12 in your body, a lot of vital functions get affected and that starts with you feeling more tired and weaker than usual.
So, it is important to know how much B12 you need so that you can get it either through food or supplements. Those are two excellent options.
Top 5 Anti Aging Benefits Of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 does a lot for the body. It keeps you energetic, helps avoid heart problems and promotes DNA synthesis in the body. Here is a look at some specific benefits that come from consuming the right amount of vitamin B12.
1. Helps Form Red Blood Cells
B12 is very important when it comes to helping the body create red blood cells. If you don’t have enough B12 in your body, the production of red blood cells gets affected and the body will not develop the way it should. The way you know this is, healthy RBCs are round in shape but if you have a B12 deficiency, they are larger than usual and oval in shape.
When their shape gets distorted, the cells cannot move to the bloodstream from the bone marrow as they should and this leads to a condition called megaloblastic anemia.
This is a type of anemia which is a blood disorder and is the result of a low RBC count. When you have anemia, your body won’t have enough RBCs and fails to provide oxygen to vital organs.
2. Promotes Serotonin Production
Apart from RBCs, B12 is also important for your mental health. It has an important part to play in the production of serotonin which is often called the feel-good hormone. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been connected to clinical depression. And in some cases, it might also lead to depression.
Not just that, B12 is also used in the treatment of major depressive disorder, another name for depression.
3. Good for Pregnant Women
Then there is pregnancy. Vitamin B12 is important for the development of the child’s health. A deficiency, especially at the beginning of the pregnancy might cause a miscarriage. It also increases the child’s risk of being born prematurely, with low weight or birth defects.
Fact is, those who have a B12 deficiency are 3x times more likely to give birth to a child with defects.
4. Good For Your Bones
The right amount of B12 in the body may also be good for the bones. Studies have shown that this deficiency can lead to lower than required bone density. This makes bones fragile in the long run and increases the risk of osteoporosis at a later stage. And it has been found particularly true among older women.
5. Affects Eyesight
Not having enough B12 in the body may be bad for your vision. This is because it may lead to macular degeneration which affects the central vision. The condition is often the result of aging and getting enough B12 is a good way to prevent it. There isn’t enough research yet to confirm this but B12 has been connected to problems related to macular degeneration.
Food Sources Of Vitamin B12
The human body cannot produce B12, however there are plenty of other sources. For instance, vitamin B12 is found in lots of dairy items, fish and meat. It is not so likely to be present in plant-based foods. Here are some sources, if you want to get it naturally from your diet.
- Milk products like yogurt, cheese and milk (including plant milk)
- Breakfast cereals
- Tuna and haddock fish
- Certain yeast products
Age groups that are specifically at risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency are:
- People on restrictive diets (like vegans, for instance)
- Those who have health conditions like the celiac disease
- Older adults
They should pay closer attention to this. That can start by assessing the required daily dosage.
Daily Recommended Dose Of Vitamin B12
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- Anyone above 14 years of age should get 2.4 micrograms or mcg
- Pregnant women should get 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding mothers should get 2.8 mcg
You need to be especially careful if you take certain medications like proton pump inhibitors, metformin and H2 receptor agonists. That’s because these medications can reduce the amount of B12 your body can absorb from food.
Vitamin B12: Possible Side Effects
Now, there aren’t really any risks from taking too much B12 but as is the thumb rule before taking any supplement, it is best to talk to a doctor. In this case, it is because these supplements, which can be taken orally or through an injection, are known to have drug interactions. These medications are:
- Proton pump inhibitors
- H2 receptor antagonists
Major Sources And Anti Aging Benefits Of Vitamin B12: Conclusion
Overall, Vitamin B12 is not just an essential nutrient but also a good one to keep an eye on. This is particularly true for those who haven’t been getting enough sunlight or have been feeling out-of-character fatigue.
If you’ve been experiencing such symptoms, it is good to consult a qualified medical practitioner. The solution is rather simple and worth a visit to the doctor.