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Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin, which your body cannot produce on its own. It is naturally found in animal products, or can be obtained through diet. It is also available in the form of injection or supplement.
Vitamin B12 is vital for many bodily functions, for your nerve cells, for the formation of red blood cells and DNA synthesis. It prevents major birth defects, improves moods, supports bone health and helps in maintaining healthy skin and hair. Other amazing benefits of this vitamin include boosting memory, improving your energy levels, and helping in prevention of heart disease.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults, while it is 2.6 mcg for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Why Is Vitamin B12 Necessary For Our Body?
A deficiency of this vitamin can cause weakness, tiredness, loss of appetite, constipation, weight loss and a certain type of anemia called 'megaloblastic anemia' (an anemia that makes people feel tired and weak).
Other nerve problems such as tingling and numbness in the hands and feet may also occur. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause several other problems too, including, depression, poor memory, dementia, nervous system damage, sore tongue, etc. Therefore, to avoid all such health issues, it is necessary to ensure that we keep our intake of vitamin B12 at optimal level.
Amazing Benefits Of Vitamin B12
Apart from preventing the above-mentioned diseases that are caused due to lack of this vitamin, the presence of vitamin B12 in necessary amounts in our body can give you the following amazing benefits. Take a look:
1. Helps prevent anaemia
2. Prevents Osteoporosis
3. Helps with healthy pregnancy
4. Reduces macular degeneration
5. Prevents depression
6. Helps with healthy hair, skin and nails
7. Can prevent cancer
8. Fights fatigue
9. Improves digestion
1. Helps Prevent Anemia
Vitamin B12 helps your body produce healthy red blood cells. The healthy red blood cells are usually small and round. But, in case of vitamin B12 deficiency, they get larger and irregular in shape, and hence, it becomes difficult for the red blood cells to move from the bone marrow into the blood stream at the required rate, leading to anemia. When you are anemic, your body will not have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to vital organs. This can lead to weakness and fatigue.
2. Prevents Osteoporosis
Vitamin B12 has a vital role to play in bone health. Adults with vitamin B12 deficiency have shown below normal levels of bone mineral density, which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis. Hence, low level of this vitamin is associated with increased risk of osteoporosis.
3. Helps With Healthy Pregnancy
It is necessary to keep vitamin B12 at optimum levels, as it is vital for a healthy pregnancy. It is important for the prevention of brain and spinal cord birth defects. The brain and nervous system of the foetus require sufficient B12 levels to develop properly. Maternal deficiency of this vitamin may lead to miscarriage or premature birth, or birth defects in children.
4. Reduces Macular Degeneration
Homocysteine is a type of amino acid that is found in your bloodstream. Elevated level of homocysteine has been associated with increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin B12 when taken as a supplement can lower homocysteine levels responsible for macular degeneration.
5. Prevents Depression
Vitamin B12 helps with mood regulation by producing serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. When people with a deficiency of this vitamin are given this as supplement, it helps improve mood. Further, studies have linked vitamin B12 deficiency with increased risk of depression. Optimum levels of this vitamin have shown better recovery from depression with treatment.
6. Helps With Healthy Hair, Skin And Nails
Vitamin B12 has a great role to play in cell production, and adequate levels of this vitamin is essential for healthy hair, skin and nails. Low levels of vitamin B12 may cause various symptoms including hair changes, nail discouloration, vitiligo, and other dermatologic symptoms. But, if you are already having sufficient amounts of this vitamin, then taking it as a supplement may not make much of a difference.
7. Can Prevent Cancer
Vitamin B12 can protect one against cancers of the breast, lung, colon, and prostate. It has a role to play in DNA synthesis as well as repair and has been thus found to have an association with cancer. A study had found that a high intake of vitamin B12 along with vitamin B6 and folate reduced the risk of colon cancer by 30 to 40 per cent in participants who had genes that raised the risk of cancer in them.
8. Fights Fatigue
Vitamin B12 is required to convert carbohydrates into glucose inside the body, thereby leading to production of energy. Several studies have proven that vitamin B12 supplementation helps in fighting fatigue as well as tiredness.
9. Improves Digestion
It is required for the maintenance of the digestive system. Vitamin B12 tends to protect the heart against harmful and life-threatening disease by improving unhealthy levels of cholesterol and protecting against high blood pressure and stroke.
Foods Rich In Vitamin B12
As vitamin B12 is obtained through diet, you should modify your diet to get sufficient levels of this vitamin. But, if you have a health condition that prevents absorption of this vitamin, then you may have to take it as a supplement.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in a variety of animal foods, but plant foods have no B12 unless they are fortified. Beef liver, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, meat and dairy products contain B12. Some breakfast cereals and other food products, including nutritional yeasts are fortified with this vitamin.
According to experts, you should try to get most of your nutrients from food, as foods contain fibre, minerals and vitamins that are beneficial for health.