Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, helps the body produce energy by converting carbohydrates into glucose. B vitamins are water soluble, which means that the body does not store them. As a result, they must be regularly replenished by absorbing them from food.
Vitamin B12 also helps the nervous system function effectively. Working together with vitamin B9 (folic acid), it helps the gland work better and helps the body make healthy red blood cells. Together, folic acid and vitamin B12 form S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound that improves mood and immune function .
Hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein found in food. The body then absorbs vitamin B12 and combines it with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor.
If a person cannot naturally develop an intrinsic factor, they have pernicious anemia. This means that it is difficult for them to absorb vitamin B12 from supplements and from all foods .
Vitamin B12 has many health benefits. It is known to improve memory, mood, nervous system, iron levels, heart health, hair, nails, skin, and more.
Vitamin B12 is an important factor in helping the body make healthy red blood cells. When the body has a deficiency or a low level of vitamin B12, it can cause abnormal development of red blood cells.
As a result, the red blood cells become larger and irregular in shape. This prevents them from moving from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. (This is how megaloblastic anemia occurs.)
Over time, anemia can cause weakness, fatigue, and other ailments because your body doesn't have enough red blood cells to supply oxygen to your organs .
Research shows that vitamin B12 can help with brain and nervous system functions, memory, mood, and depression. Studies have shown that patients and people in the general population with depression have low levels of folic acid and low levels of vitamin B12. Other studies have shown that vitamin B12 deficiency leads to memory impairment .
Vitamin B12 is known to help skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin deficiency leads to discoloration of blemishes, skin hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, stunted hair growth, and more .
Research shows that vitamin B12 lowers blood homocysteine levels. This amino acid has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that people with moderately elevated homocysteine levels were more likely to have heart attacks and strokes.
You can get vitamin B12 through dietary supplements and nutritional supplements. Some foods that naturally contain vitamin B 12 include :
- Chicken breast
- Plain greek yogurt
- Fortified nutritional yeast
The RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg. The normal range is 200 to 900 picograms per milliliter (pg / ml).
If the vitamin B12 level is less than 200 pg / ml, it is considered a vitamin B12 deficiency. A healthcare professional may order a blood test to measure your vitamin B12 levels .
Vitamin B deficiency! 2 can cause fatigue, weakness, numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes, and more.
People who may be deficient in vitamin B12 are older people who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach to absorb the vitamin naturally from food.
Other people include people who don't consume a lot of animal products. Vegetarians and vegans should ask their doctor to monitor their vitamin B12 levels. Excessive alcohol consumption also puts people at risk for B12 deficiency.
When vitamin B12 levels are low, the body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells, leading to anemia . Red blood cells carry oxygen to parts of the body. Without enough cells to carry oxygen to your tissues and organs, your body will not function properly.
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Delicate tongue
- Mood swings / irritability
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Muscular weakness
- Erratic movements
- Memory loss
Risks and interactions
Although research has shown that taking vitamin B12 is not associated with risk, it is important to consult with your doctor before taking vitamins, minerals, or supplements. A healthcare professional can better determine if you need it at this time.
Research has shown that vitamin B12 can interact with certain medications. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following medications interfere with the body's absorption of vitamin B12:
- Chloromycetin (chloramphenicol): This antibiotic is used to treat certain infections.
- Proton pump inhibitors : Used to treat acid reflux and peptic ulcer , they include Prilosec (omeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole).
- Histamine H2 receptor antagonists: These are used to treat peptic ulcer and include Tagamet (cimetidine), Pepcid (famotidine) , and Zantac (ranitidine).
- Metformin : This drug is used to treat insulin resistance and diabetes.
Before taking vitamin B12, talk to your doctor or inform them of any medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking.
Get the word of drug information
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient in the human diet. It is essential for the development and proper functioning of many organs in the body. You should try to get your RDA of vitamin B12 from foods that naturally contain vitamin B12. If you're not sure if you're getting enough vitamin B12, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test, adding the right foods to your diet, and possibly taking supplements.