Vitamin B12 and Its Benefits/Side Effects

Maintaining a balanced diet with appropriate amounts of all nutrients is essential to living a healthful life. The same holds true for Vitamin B-12. It benefits our body in impressive yet diverse ways and thus needs to be consumed in sufficient amounts.

What is Vitamin B-12?

Cyanocobalamin, more commonly known as Vitamin B12 is a major and most structurally complicated water-soluble vitamin. Like all other B-vitamins, it can dissolve in water and is transported through the bloodstream around the body. It is the only cobalt-containing substance that is vital for optimal health and proper body functioning. Many different types of vitamnin B12 exist such as cyanocobalamin, methylcobalmin, and hydroxocobalamin. It may seem astounding but our body can store vitamin B-12 for as many as four years.

Functions of Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 performs several diverse and important functions within our body for optimal well-being. It is essential for the production of red blood cells, cell metabolism, detoxification, and nerve function. Another noteworthy function is its role in the production of DNA, the body’s genetic material.

Health Benefits of Vitamin B-12

When talking about optimal health, vitamin B-12 cannot be ignored under any circumstances. This is because it benefits the body in many unique and impressive ways. The top health benefits that accompany regular and sufficient intake of vitamin B-12 are:

  • Vitamin B-12 boosts the production of healthy red blood cells. A low red blood count can lead to megaloblastic anemia and affect oxygen transport to the various vital body organs.
  • Adequate amounts of vitamin B-12 play a critical role in preventing any major birth defects. It is vital to maintain a healthy pregnancy with minimal chances of brain and spinal cord defects in the fetus.
  • Increasing vitamin B-12 uptake within permissible limits is important for neurological health as it improves memory and boosts cognitive functions.
  • Intake of vitamin B-12 is linked with bone health as it enhances bone mineral density. This reduces the increased risk of osteoporosis that develops with age.
  • Homocysteine levels in the blood are positively correlated with vitamin B-12 levels. It is essential to maintain these levels to prevent macular degeneration which is an eye disease that adversely affects vision.
  • Vitamin B-12 is involved in improving mood and symptoms related to depression.  
  • Vitamin B-12 has been linked to increased energy production in the body.

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is very rare as our body is capable of storing significant amounts of this nutrient. Despite this vitamin B-12 deficiency is common among people who do not consume appropriate amounts of B-12, are on a vegetarian diet or have undertaken weight-loss surgery. Conditions that hinder the proper uptake of nutrients such as celiac disease can also interfere with B-12 absorptions.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency does not develop promptly rather it develops gradually and escalates with time. The deficiency is accompanied by an array of symptoms such as weakness, weariness, anemia, anorexia, weight loss, dermatitis, paresthesia, paralysis, inflamed tongue, and neurological degeneration. In case you experience any such symptoms consult a good physician as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are important as an untreated deficiency can be life-threatening.      

Boosting Your B-12

Our body cannot make vitamin B12 on its own. This raises the need to get it from other sources such as animal-based foods. These include dairy products, eggs, ham, meat, poultry, fish, and yeast products. The availability of B12 fortified items in the market is also increasing in the market. Plant-based milk and bread are common examples of fortified items. If needs are not being met than dietary supplements can be consumed.   

Vitamin B12 Supplements

Increased research in the field of health and nutrition has led to the development and easy accessibility of supplements in markets worldwide. Over the counter supplementations of vitamin B-12 are widely available. Supplements can be consumed orally, through a nasal spray or can be injected directly. Multivitamins can also be taken and are easily available in stores and online. The recommended dosage of vitamin B-12 in the case of adults is 2.4 micrograms per day. The intake is higher amongst pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Side Effects of Vitamin B12

When consumed in appropriate amounts, vitamin B-12 is considered safe. This is because our body is capable of absorbing only the amount required while the rest is excreted through urine. High doses of vitamin B-12 supplements are associated with mild though reversible side effects. The most frequent side effects of B-12 supplementations include dizziness, headache, nausea, anxiety, stress, and vomiting.

Final Thoughts:

Adequate nutrient intake is of indispensable importance talking about a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Vitamin B-12 is an important B-vitamin that needs to be consumed in adequate amounts through your diet or by the use of dietary supplements. It is responsible for several bodily functions and benefits your body in numerous ways.