Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin B12
A body must consume a balanced diet, loaded with all the essential vitamins and minerals. The hectic schedule of our life demands having a nutritious diet to sustain all the body's vital functions.
Though, it's pretty evident that work stress makes us feel drained, low in energy, and weak. Have you given a second thought about what could probably be the reason? A deficiency in vitamin B12 levels can lead to such body fatigue.
Your well-being and physical performance are strongly impacted due to the presence of vitamin B12. It's involved in various metabolic processes right from the red blood cell formation, functioning of nerve cells to the DNA synthesis.
Read this post to know more about this powerhouse vitamin.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 relates to a group of water-soluble cobalamin compounds. This signifies that such vitamins can be dissolved in water and transported through the tissues, but cannot be stored in the body itself. Surprisingly, there are no ways to produce this unique vitamin directly in the body.
A good source of vitamin B12 is generally obtained from animal-based foods. These foods promote microbial growth responsible for the production of vitamin B12. Here are some of the familiar sources of vitamin B12 according to the different diets:
- Non-vegetarian sources: Include fish, meat, egg, and poultry-based products.
- Vegetarian sources: Items mainly derived from milk and dairy items.
- Vegan food sources: Food items obtained through fortified cereals and nutritional yeast.
Functions of Vitamin B12
Formation of Red Blood Cells and Checking Anemia
Vitamin B12 plays a significant role in red blood cell formation that carries oxygen to the body organs. When there is a dearth of vitamin B12, the red blood cells are not developed properly. These RBCs become irregular and larger in shape, unable to carry oxygen from the bone marrow into the bloodstream resulting in megaloblastic anemia.
The abnormal-shaped RBCs aren't able to transport oxygen making the individual tired and weak. In the abundance of vitamin B12, healthy RBCs develop small and round shapes, functioning correctly.
Prevents Major Birth Defects
In the initial stages of pregnancy, mothers need to incorporate vitamin B12 in their diets to averse the risks associated with birth defects like neural tube defects. Unfortunately, many cases of miscarriage or pre-mature birth are related to the deficiency of this vitamin during pregnancy.
When the fetus starts to grow, it requires B12 to develop the brain and nervous system. An adequate amount of vitamin B12 is known to support a healthy pregnancy.
Supports Strong Bone Health
Are you looking to support robust bone health? Perhaps, with your vitamin D consumption, you will also require an adequate quantity of vitamin B12. The lack of vitamin B12 has been associated with lower mineral bone density.
The lower bone mineral density makes the bone fragile and weak over time, resulting in increased risks of ailments like osteoporosis. This condition was found majorly in women who start losing bone density after the 30s.
Acts as a Mood Enhancer
The increasing life stress adds to fluctuations in mood levels. However, having vitamin B12 can improve the condition as it plays a vital role in metabolizing and synthesizing serotonin levels.
This chemical is known for regulating mood, and its decrease leads to depression and irritability. Supplementing with B12 has significantly boosted the mood and reduced the risk linked with depression.
Improve Heart Health
Common amino acid homocysteine related to high blood levels is the primary reason for the increased heart disease risks. It could be possible that homocysteine levels are elevated for vitamin B12 deficiency.
However, the homocysteine levels are kept at a check with vitamin B12 supplements, lowering the risks of heart diseases.
Prevent the Loss of Brain Neurons
Memory loss is a natural problem that happens when an individual begins to age. The root cause of this condition is related to the deficiency of vitamin B12.
This vitamin has the potential to prevent brain atrophy, also known as the loss of neurons in the brain, correlated to other conditions like dementia or memory loss. Supplementing with B12 boosted memory function with a slowed mental decline.
“B12 is found mostly in animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. If you don’t eat animal foods, be sure to get B12 from fortified foods or a supplement. Vitamin B12 in supplement form may be necessary if a person has a moderate to severe deficiency. It is preferable though, that for most people, they get it from food,” says Liz Weinandy, RD, a dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is mainly related to insufficient dietary intake or inadequate absorption. Generally, inadequate absorption happens due to a lack of hydrochloric acid that cannot release the vitamin from the food.
Atrophic gastritis is another factor leading to the loss of vital stomach cells that help produce hydrochloric acid. It's also crucial for vegans to check the vitamin B12 level as plant sources are not much effective.
Be Careful with Vitamin B12 Intake!
Vitamin B12 is necessary for conducting various functions in the body. Getting a proper quantity of this vitamin is crucial for your health. Make sure, if you aren't receiving it from your diet, go for the supplements.
Remember, you should always consult a doctor before incorporating any vitamin supplements in your diet!