What is vitamin B12 good for?
Life is busy, right?
Many of us are tired and rundown. We’re constantly dashing between work, family, and personal commitments. We eat on the run, forget to exercise, sleep badly, and make poor choices regarding alcohol and sugary treats.
But we put up with it. Why? Well, it’s just what we do. And we’re used to it. Eating a healthy diet and getting our quota of daily exercise, rest, and nutrients is a luxury we don’t have time for!
Unfortunately, this gap in our nutritional needs means that our bodies and minds are suffering. Even though we might not be aware of it at first, a lack of certain vitamins can lead to small problems that become big problems later in life. Inflammation, digestive malfunction, cognitive deterioration, nervous system disorders, and more: these are all linked to poor nutritional status.
Of course, nobody can have the perfect lifestyle or even the perfect diet. But we can ‘fill in the gaps’ with dietary supplements.
But where do you start? Can you just grab a multivitamin off the shelf and hope for the best?
Not if you want success. But you can start with the B vitamins.
What are the B vitamins?
There are 13 vitamins that are essential to your everyday health. These include the eight B vitamins: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate or 'folic acid' when included in supplements (B9), and (B12) which has 4 forms: cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin.
All of your cells need all eight of these B vitamins to function at their best. Although they’re recognized as a group, each vitamin is required by a unique set of the body’s enzymes to carry out important functions. Deficiencies in any of these can lead to chronic health issues.
Each B vitamin has a different role within the body. They work together to help your body break down glucose (blood sugar) and create energy in the form of ATP molecules. Without ATP, your body simply wouldn’t function.
B12 is one of the most important vitamins of all. It’s also the vitamin that most of us are deficient in.
The role of vitamin B12
Unlike the other B vitamins, B12 is almost exclusively available from animal products. It’s synthesized by bacteria in a process that takes place in the gut of ruminant animals. Ruminants acquire vitamin B12, through a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria present in their stomachs.
This is one of the reasons that vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in B12. However, plenty of people who eat animal products are also lacking in this vital nutrient.
B12 is bound to the protein in food. For us humans to absorb it properly, we need something called intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein that’s made by the parietal cells of the gastric mucosa (the lining of our gut). During digestion, the hydrochloric acid in our stomach releases B12 from protein, where it then combines with intrinsic factor.
If your gut is lacking in intrinsic factor, your uptake of vitamin B12 will be impaired. This can result in a B12 deficiency.
Because B12 is intimately involved in red blood cell production and nervous system maintenance, deficiency is a major cause of fatigue and neurological disorders. Low levels of B12 have been linked to mood disorders, anxiety, nerve pain, and major depression.
How Vitamin B12 Supports Important Processes in the Body
B12 supports energy and alertness
B12 is required for healthy methylation
B12 reduces homocysteine levels
B12 helps you think, learn, and remember
B12 supports neurological function
B12 may prevent and/or treat neurological disorders
B12 helps support your everyday mood
B12 may be an effective treatment for clinical depression
B12 helps prevent the loss of neurons
B12 may reduce the risk of early onset dementia
B12 may improve sleep quality
Supplementing with vitamin B12