Your body craves (and loves) vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin. That’s because it can deliver health benefits in a variety of ways all across the spectrum. It can help if you need a boost in red blood cells, or if you are concerned about your bone health and eventual osteoporosis, or if you need a kick to restore your emotional bounce and get you out of a nagging rainy-day funk.
Here’s the thing about vitamin B12, though: as much as your body knows what to do with it once it gets ahold of it, it’s unable to manufacture B12 on its own. Its availability is entirely up to you. That means eating the right foods and getting your hands on B12 in nutritional supplement form. Foods known to have an abundance of B12 include beef, salmon, liver, tuna, milk, yogurt, clams, sardines, oysters, mushrooms, eggs, nori, chicken, trout fillet, and cheese. In other words, nothing at which to turn your nose up there.
What Are the Basics of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble compound responsible for many bodily functions, per healthline.com. It’s referred to as an “essential vitamin,” an honor not accorded all vitamins. B12 has earned its accolades thanks to its multifaceted beneficial powers. It not only supports the healthy, normal function of your nerve cells, it plays a key role in DNA synthesis, making it foundational to life itself.
Put it another way, B12 is a foundational building block of your body’s function; without it, you’re possibly looking at a bunch of health issues. It is an important member of the highly-regarded family of B vitamins, and it is during the digestion process that vitamin B12 is processed through the actions of proteins, a biological mechanism that relies heavily on the presence and actions of hydrochloric acid, per organicfacts.net.
8 of Vitamin B12’s Best Health Benefits
- Pain relief. Per selfhacked.com, vitamin B12 offers a pain relief benefit that covers a wide range of conditions, to include combating a tingling sensation in the legs known as paresthesia, as well as burning pains and spontaneous pain in general.
- Prevention of anemia. This is where B12’s robust capacity to help in the production of red blood cells comes into play. Per healthline.com, when your body is anemic, it is lacking the red blood cells needed to carry oxygen to your vital organs.
- Cell repair. It’s not just the red blood cells that rely on B12’s availability, so do nerve cells, which are at the core your nervous system.
- Reduce cholesterol. Ditto triglycerides, per organicfacts.net, both of which translate to maintaining healthy heart function.
- Thwart birth defects. Studies have indicated that a fetus’s nervous system and brain specifically needs Mom’s supply of B12 for healthy development, per healthline.com.
- Brain health. Supplementing with B12’s cobalamin has proven useful in neuronal regeneration, giving the vitamin the potential to play a key role in possibly delaying the likes of Alzheimer’s disease, per selfhacked.com.
- Bone health. A study of 2,500 adults, referenced at healthline.com, found that a B12 shortage was linked to a decrease in bone mineral density, which means an increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Macular degeneration. In other words, eye health. Studies have shown that a B12 deficiency might be linked to increase risk of macular degeneration, per selfhacked.com.
Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
If your body isn’t getting enough B12 to help run its engine, it will let you know by presenting with a number of symptoms – or warning signs – that it’s time to get back on board with a daily dose of B12. Following are some symptoms to watch for and, if present, to discuss with your physician to make sure vitamin B12 might be the right solution:
- Loss of sensation in the hands and feet
- Temporary memory issues
- Impaired coordination while walking
- Insomnia and/or drowsiness
- Vision problems
- Swollen tongue
- Weight loss
- Mouth soreness