“What is vitamin B12,” you ask? Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a member of the B-complex vitamins. A water-soluble vitamin, B12 is stored in your liver and is necessary for avoiding vitamin B12 deficiency.
What are the benefits of vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 wears many hats. It is essential for a vast number of important bodily functions.
- Red blood cells! Vitamin B12 helps your body produce plenty of red blood cells that are required for carrying oxygen throughout your body. With enough B12, you would suffer from constant dizziness and fatigue.
- Memory! Vitamin B12 assists in cognitive skills such as memory, concentration, and comprehension. Without enough B12, you may suffer memory loss, depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.
- Heart health! Vitamin B12 controls the level of homocysteine in your blood, a protein associated with heart attack and stroke. Without enough B12, you are at a higher risk of dying of heart disease or stoke.
- Bone health! Scientists have found a high correlation healthy vitamin B12 levels and a lower risk of getting osteoporosis– loss of bone mass- in elderly individuals. Senior citizens who keep their vitamin B12 levels normal benefit by maintaining healthy joints and cartilage functioning.
- Senses! Vitamin B12 keeps communication flowing between your brain and various nerve sites, such as your fingers, toes, mouth, eyes, and ears. Without enough B12, you would suffer neurological damage such as tingling, numbness or pain in your hands, feet, and tongue.
- Movement! Vitamin B12 protects the myelin sheathe of your nervous system. Without enough B12, you would have difficulty controlling your muscles in your arms and legs.
- DNA! Vitamin B12 promotes DNA synthesis. Without enough B12, you would suffer abnormal cell growth.
- Metabolism! Vitamin B12 boosts stamina by helping your body convert fat into energy. Without enough B12, you would feel sluggish, confused, and chronically fatigued, and be more prone to weight gain.
What foods have vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based proteins. The following food sources have the highest levels of vitamin B12:
- Meat! Beef, particularly lean beefsteak and beef organs, such as liver and heart
- Chicken! Poultry, including lean chicken, turkey, and duck
- Fish! Seafood, including tuna, halibut, salmon, crab meat, clams, and oysters
- Eggs! Don’t skip the yolks- they are extremely high in this B vitamin
- Milk! Dairy products, including milk, hard cheese, yogurt, and kefir
But I eat plenty of protein, and I take vitamin supplements.
Even if you eat plenty of foods with vitamin B12, you are not immune to B12 deficiency. Many multivitamins and B-complex pills include vitamin B12, but not in sufficient amounts to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in individuals who are at risk.
The only way to get enough B12 is by taking vitamin B12 supplements. Some popular B12 supplements are vitamin B12 sublingual pills,and prescribed vitamin B12 shots.
Read more about vitamin B12:
What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?
Can Elevated Homocysteine (Low B12) cause Mental Illness?
Vitamin B12- Mayo Clinic
What Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency? What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Image credits, from top:
ostephy, imelenchon, jzlomek, chamomile, clarita