Do Vitamin B12 Supplements Work?
The B vitamin family plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells and elements of DNA. Vitamin B12 also controls hormones and neurological function. However, when experts talk about vitamin B12, they focus on its role as an energy source for red blood cells.
Recent research initiatives have looked into the synthesis of B12 and its effect on the human body. Interestingly, researchers are most interested in defining the role vitamin B12 plays in immunotherapy. This is a biological therapy that involves suppressing or activating nerve function to fight diseases like cancer.
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, commonly referred to as cobalamin, is one of the eight micronutrient variants in the B vitamin family. The core functions of vitamin B12 are to help the body convert food into glucose and act as an energy source for blood cells.
If you’re vegan, your dietary intake of vitamin B12 will be minimal because the main sources of this nutrient are meat, eggs, and fish. However, vegetarians who consume a lot of milk can meet their B12 requirement that way.
Vegans can get vitamin B12 from vitamin supplements, fortified cereal products, or brewer’s yeast. However, it’s important to remember that fortified products have varying amounts of micronutrients and to check the nutrition facts label.
B12 Requirement By Age
- Under 6 months - 0.4mcg
- 7-12 months - 0.5mcg
- 1-3 years - 0.9mcg
- 4-8 years - 1.2mcg
- 9-13 years - 1.8mcg
- 14-18 years - 2.4mcg
- Over 19 - 2.4mcg
- Pregnant teens and women - 2.6mcg
- Breastfeeding teens and women - 2.8mcg
Role of Vitamin B12 in Older Adults
In 2016, a group of researchers studied the levels of vitamin B12 in brain cells. The test subjects were deceased individuals, from fetuses to people over 80 years of age. The results were predictable in the sense that the older subjects had lower levels of vitamin B12 than the younger test subjects.
The study also showed that individuals with brain- and nerve-related conditions, like autism and schizophrenia, had one-third as much B12 as individuals of the same age who had no such underlying condition.
Role of Vitamin B12 in Older People
- An optimal level of vitamin B12 can drastically reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke in older people.
- Older people tend to experience problems with memory. Getting the right amount of B12 can reduce memory instability.
- B12 can help prevent diseases like Alzheimer's.
- Older people can keep their motor functions stable with an adequate intake of B12.
Are You Deficient in Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a chronic problem, especially in adults and elderly people. According to the CDC, people over the age of 51 should find an additional source of B12. One option is fortified cereal. They should only use supplements after consulting a doctor and having a blood test.
Often, the symptoms of B12 deficiency overlap with those of other underlying conditions. However, some people will self-diagnose and start taking supplements on their own, which is not a good idea. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
We can divide the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency into two categories: generic and specific symptoms. The list of generic symptoms includes fatigue, loss of appetite, constipation, weight loss, and depression. There are specific symptoms that might warrant getting a blood test done.
As mentioned above, vitamin B12 is vital to the proper functioning of the nervous system, spinal cord, and brain cells. If you have symptoms like memory loss, difficulty maintaining balance while walking, or numbness in the hands and feet, you must get yourself checked out.
What B12 Supplement Manufacturers Say
In individuals with certain stomach conditions, instability in the production of digestive acid is caused by the inadequate absorption of B12 from food sources. In such cases, no matter how much vitamin B12-rich food you consume, there will always be a deficiency. This is when a healthcare practitioner will advise you to take supplements, and you should do it.
Vitamin B12 supplement manufacturers generally believe that their product helps maintain endurance levels, concentration, and mood. They say that athletes can benefit the most from a B12 supplement, but that it is also helpful during cancer treatment. A topical ointment of avocado oil and B12 can substantially relieve some skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema.
“Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin B12 can also assist in hair, skin, and nail growth by providing oxygen to these tissues. However, if your [B12] levels are already adequate, consuming a supplement probably won't boost your health in those regions," says Vikram Tarugu, MD, a gastroenterologist, and CEO of Detox of South Florida.
Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient for staying healthy. It’s interesting that taking too much B12 is known to cause more problems than deficiency does.
Health professionals advise that you check the level of vitamin B12 in your body at least once a year. If there is a fluctuation that can be corrected by a supplement, the doctor will let you know.
If you use vitamin supplements regularly, take a look at the huge variety of vitamin B12 products here at GNA Naturals. We work closely with health professionals to produce a vitamin B12 supplement that has no side effects and provides great results. Visit our official website and explore the products section.