All the major vitamins commonly listed on the “Nutrition Facts” labels on food are essential and constructive in maintaining proper bodily function. Perhaps none are more essential than vitamin B12, which offers an assortment of health-inducing benefits that make it, for many people, an indispensable presence in their pantry or medicine cabinet.
What Exactly is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, technically known as “cobalamin,” is a water-soluble vitamin that plays roles in neurological function and DNA synthesis, among other things, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It exists in several forms, and per the NIH, “Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 that are active in human metabolism.”
Per the NIH, vitamin B12 deficiency is not all-too common. However, there is a segment of the population who are susceptible to Vitamin B12 deficiency: those on a plant-based diet (since vitamin B12 is not generally present in plant foods), and those who have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 due to certain conditions, such as pernicious anemia.
Whether one of the above factors describes you or not, the essential roles and benefits of vitamin B12 are worth knowing. Certain foods, such as meat and other animal products, are common sources of this vitamin. However, a simple B12 supplement can also be effective.
Major Benefits of Vitamin B12
Mood and Neurological Function: Vitamin B12, in combination with folate, is extremely important in the production of a compound known as S-adenosyl methionine, per draxe.com. This compound is crucial for neurological function, including mood regulation and coping with stress. Getting enough B12 could have a positive effect dealing with depression and anxiety.
Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: When it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s disease, there are a lot of factors to consider. Per healthwholeness.com, low levels of vitamin B12 are linked to Alzheimer’s. Ensuring that you are not deficient in B12 could be a worthwhile preventative measure for Alzheimer’s, especially if you are at risk for this disease.
Digestion Aid: B12 aids the digestive system in a couple of different pays. Per draxe.com, it helps with enzyme production, which contributes to efficient metabolism and digestive functioning. It also contributes to the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which serve as a barrier against digestive disorders and other forms of disease.
B12’s Health-Boosting Qualities
Lowering Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: Vitamin B12 contributes to processes that might have a positive impact on the risk for cardiovascular disease. Per NIH, B12 supplements (in combination with folic acid) lowered homocysteine levels in people with vascular disease, and elderly people. Elevated homocysteine levels have been proven as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, the science linking vitamin B12 to risk of cardiovascular disease has yet to show a credible link between the two.
Energy & Stamina: Per NIH, vitamin B12 can be of great use in increasing energy and stamina in those who have a nutritional deficit of this vitamin. The types of anemia linked to B12 deficiency tend to cause fatigue and weakness, so recouping this lack of B12 absorption will make a big difference.
Healthier Hair: This may not seem significant to some, but getting enough B12 can be of use to the shine and healthiness of your hair, per healthwholeness.com. Vitamin B12 can actually be found in some hair products, but it is good to make sure you get enough of it in your diet or through supplementation, if necessary.