What Is Vitamin B12

It’s a water-soluble form of the vitamin that has various essential body functions. Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin and it’s mainly found in animal-based products such as dairy products and milk. But what is vitamin b12 good for? The review below outlines its benefits, side effects, dosage, and deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Benefits

Vitamin B12 is one of the numerous essential vitamins. This means that it can’t be produced by the body. Normally, vitamin B12 is found in products that are animal-based but they can also be found as injections and oral supplements. There are numerous roles which vitamin b12 plays in the body.    So, what is vitamin B12 good for?

Preventing Birth Defects

Pregnant mothers are often advised to take adequate amounts of vitamin B12. This is because it helps to improve the development of the fetus’ nervous system and the brain. When there is a deficiency of this vitamin during the early pregnancy stages, the baby may be born with birth defects like the neural tube defects. An inadequacy may also cause miscarriage and sometimes premature birth.

Prevents Anemia

This vitamin plays an important role in the production of red blood cells. It helps to reduce the likelihood of a person developing anemia by increasing the production of red blood cells. It ensures that the cells are healthy, small in size, and they have a round shape that is easy to transport along the bloodstream. Note that anemia is usually caused by irregularly shaped blood cells which are larger in size.

Enhanced Energy Levels

Vitamin B12 products such as supplements are usually used as energy boosters. They are used as pre-workout enhancers that promote increased energy production. This leads to a better and improved physical strength that is required to do physical and manually demanding tasks such as workouts. As a matter of fact, a common deficiency of this vitamin is usually lack of energy or weakness.

Promotes Healthy Nails, Hair, and Skin

There is no doubt that B12 helps to support healthy and efficient cell production. When it’s consumed in moderated amounts, it promotes healthy development of the nails, skin, and hair. Studies indicate that low amounts of vitamin B12 usually result in nail discoloration, vitiligo, hair loss, angular stomatitis, and hyperpigmentation. Improving your intake of this vitamin often leads to improved dermatologic conditions as well as healthy hair and nail growth.

Improves Bone Health

So, what is vitamin b12 used for? Well, it’s used with medications to prevent Osteoporosis. Adequate levels of this vitamin helps to improve the bone health by improving the density of the bone mineral. Note that bones which have a lower mineral density are usually fragile and they can easily lead to osteoporosis. Studies have established that there is a direct link between poor bone health, osteoporosis and low amounts of vitamin B12 in the body.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

some of the factors that may increase chances of vitamin B12 deficiency include a vegan or vegetarian diet, old age, poor diet, gastrointestinal problems, digestive tract surgery, pernicious anemia, gene mutations, anti-acid medications, and metformin medications. Some of the common types of vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms are:

Pale Skin

This is a prominent type of vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms. A jaundiced or pale skin occurs when the body can’t produce enough red cells. This vitamin supports the production of red blood cells in the body. It plays a vital role in enhancing how the body produces red blood cells DNA. Its deficiency results in the incomplete construction of the cells which makes them indivisible. This leads to megaloblastic anemia which causes the skin to have a pale color.

Changes in Movement

If a deficiency of cobalamin is left untreated, it causes damage to the nervous system. This leads to mobility changes especially how a person moves around or walks. Additionally, it can also affect muscle coordination and body balance, making the affected person to be prone to instability and falling.

Dizziness & Breathlessness

Most people who constantly experience breath shortness are usually anemic. The cause of anemia is often associated with deficiency of vitamin B12. It’s caused by lack of enough body cells to transport oxygen to different parts of the body.  Note that breathlessness and dizziness may still be caused by a lot of factors hence it’s important to consult a doctor first.

Changes in moods

A lot of people who have a vitamin b12 deficiency often experience mood changes. As a matter of fact, people who have dementia and depression have been observed to have low vitamin b12. Taking supplements or foods rich in cobalamin can reverse the effects of this disease. The vitamin helps to improve moods and promotes an overall feeling of happiness.

Poor Vision

A common vitamin B12 deficiency symptom is poor or blurred vision. The deficiency usually damages the optic nerve which is responsible for clear vision.  The vision disturbances usually occur as a result of nervous signals being disrupted from the eye, leading to impaired vision.  However, this condition can be easily reversed by taking vitamin b12 pills, diet or supplements.

Constant Weakness/Fatigue

This is another common symptom of a deficiency of cobalamin. Fatigue or constant weakness happens because of inadequate production of red blood cells which transport oxygen. The result is that the affected individual will end up with pernicious anemia, especially in elderly people. People with this condition are always tired and can’t perform basic tasks.

Vitamin B12 Foods

From the above benefits, you know what vitamin b12 is good for. In order to avoid vitamin b12 deficiency, it’s important to know sources of vitamin b12. The body isn’t able to produce this essential nutrient hence it must be ingested in form of a supplement or healthy diet. Breastfeeding, expectant and vegetarians are a group of people who should try and consume more of these foods. Some of the vitamin b12 foods include:

Beef

It’s one of the best sources of cobalamin. A flat iron steak that has been grilled has almost 200g of this vitamin while steak has about 100g. Apart from B12, beef also contains other forms of vitamin B which include B6 and B3. When choosing beef products, ensure that it contains low amounts of fat hence it’s better to roast or grill it.

Tuna

This is a type of fish that contains high amounts of nutrients as well as minerals and vitamins. Tuna has high amounts of this vitamin. Besides B12, it also has vitamins such as B3, A and minerals such as phosphorus and selenium.  Tuna is rich in lean protein which are great for health growth and development of lean muscles.

Animal Kidney and Liver

These organ meats are highly nutritious. Animal kidney or liver from lambs have high amounts of B12 vitamin. Apart from this vitamin, the organ meats also have vitamin B2 and minerals such as copper and selenium which promote healthy development. Note the veal, beef kidney and lamb all have high RDI’s per ounce.

Eggs

They are rich in proteins and contain high amounts of vitamin b12. Besides that, eggs also have super levels of vitamin B2. When consuming eggs as a source of cobalamin, ensure that you eat more of the egg yolks compared to the egg white. Note that egg yolks are also very easy to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Fortified Cereal

This is considered as a source of vitamin b12 vegan. Its vegan and vegetarian-friendly cereal that is made synthetically. Fortified cereals have high amounts of vitamin B12 and they provide the consumer with more than 150 percent of Vitamin B12 RDI. Besides that, it also has high amounts of vitamin E, C, and A.

Dairy Products and Milk

Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are great protein sources and also vitamin B12. A cup with whole milk has about 18 percent of vitamin B12 RDI. Additionally, Swiss cheese has high content of this vitamin while yogurt (plain and full-fat) is also a decent source. People who have vitamin B12 deficiency are usually advised to take milk or dairy products as a remedy.

Vitamin B12 Dosage

How much vitamin b12 should I take? Well, the daily recommended dosage i.e. the RDI varies in terms of gender and age. Additionally, an individual’s eating habits as well as their health plays an important role. Vitamin B12 should be taken regularly and below are the recommended amounts per age.

  • 6 months infants and below – 0.3 mcg
  • 7 months to One year old babies – 0.5 mcg
  • Children between 1 and 8 years – 0.9 to 1.2 mcg
  • 9 years to teens- 1.8 to 2.6 mcg
  • Adults -2.4 to 2.6 mcg
Vitamin B12 Side Effects

After knowing what vitamin b12 is used for, it’s important to be aware of its side effects. Although the effects are usually rare, they do occur and they include skin rash, dermatitis, and acne. It can also lead to autism in children. People with kidney problems should avoid consuming high doses of this vitamin.

Conclusion

Vitamin B12 is an essential and a key nutrient that the body needs. It should be consumed every day but moderately to avoid an overdose. Although vitamin B12 deficiency isn’t very common, if it occurs, simply ensure that you consume foods that have high amounts of vitamin B12.

References

  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/
  • https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/sites/lpi.oregonstate.edu/files/vitamin-b12-flashcard.pdf
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-foods#section14