Vitamin B12 is one of the most vital nutrients for survival; the general benefits of vitamin B12 affect all parts of your body- your brain, heart, digestive system, muscles, bones, and liver. General benefits of vitamin B12 also include mental health, aging, and overall sense of wellbeing.
Sources of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in animal-based foods, particularly organ meat, shellfish, lean beef, poultry, and dairy products. Since your body can’t produce vitamin B12 (cobalamin) on its own, you must follow a diet rich in these foods in order to gain the general benefits of vitamin B12. If you follow a vegan diet, then you must supplement in order to prevent severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
General benefits of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 general benefits affect myelin, a coating that protects the cells of your nervous system. When vitamin B12 levels are low, your myelin sheath slowly diminishes, leaving you at risk for demyelinating illnesses like multiple sclerosis (MS) or pernicious anemia that destroy nerve cells. Symptoms of neurological damage include painful tingling in the hands and feet, numbness, spasms, and difficulty walking or balancing on one leg.
Vitamin B12 is also essential for producing healthy red blood cells that distribute oxygen. Without the benefits of vitamin B12, you suffer the effects of depleted oxygen, which include fatigue, brain fog (confusion), and memory loss.
Other general benefits of vitamin B12 affect cardiovascular health, as vitamin B12 helps to control homocysteine, a hormone linked with increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Insufficient vitamin B12 causes heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and profuse sweating, all signs that you are not receiving enough vitamin B12 to benefit your heart.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Many people are unable to digest vitamin B12 naturally from food sources, making vitamin B12 deficiency one of the most rampant types of malnutrition in the US. For a large percentage of individuals, the general benefits of vitamin B12 are lost because they are simply unable to absorb vitamin B12 in their diet.
People at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include the elderly, people with gastrointestinal disorders, diabetics, and anybody who has had bariatric surgery.
If you’re one of the many who cannot benefit from vitamin B12 dietary sources, then it’s essential to supplement with non-edible types of vitamin B12 that are dispensed directly into your bloodstream. These include monthly vitamin B12 shots, which usually require a prescription, or sublingual vitamin B12 tablets, which you must take daily, several doses per day. Many other forms of topical over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements are also available that do not require digestion.