Vitamin B12 is said to be the most complex of all vitamins known to people. It is involved in many vital processes in your body, and insufficient amounts of it can lead to many health disorders and illnesses. Here, you’ll learn four of its best health benefits that will hopefully help you understand its importance to your overall health.
What’s more, you will also learn four symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and food sources to obtain it to prevent conditions caused by lack of this vitamin.
1. Prevents Nerve Damage
This vitamin helps your body replenish myelin sheath – a protective covering that keeps your nerves safe from free radicals and toxins. If your nerves don’t have this covering, they can easily be damaged and even die. Dead nerves can lead to nerve-related disorders as they interrupt the signals to and from the brain.
2. Protects The Heart
Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death throughout the world. However, this vitamin can help your heart health in several ways. It helps reduce the major risk for heart disease – raised levels of the amino acid homocysteine. The levels of homocysteine in the blood are affected by the levels of vitamin B12 and other B-complex vitamins in the blood. So, by reducing the blood levels of homocysteine, vitamin B12 reduces the chances of stroke and heart attack.
3. Supports Energy
This vitamin keeps your cells well-fed, healthy, and happy, thus helping your body produce energy. Lack of vitamin B12 will make your cells hungry, making you weak and tired. Your metabolism needs this vitamin to convert carbohydrates into usable glucose which is needed for the creation of energy. This is why the lack of vitamin b12 can often lead to fatigue.
Furthermore, your body needs this vitamin to perform the neurotransmitter signaling which helps muscle contraction and provide the necessary energy to perform your daily activities without feeling weak or tired.
4. Your Bones Need It
People with osteoporosis have lower levels of vitamin B12 and higher levels of homocysteine than those with strong, healthy bones. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by weak, fragile, or brittle bones due to loss of tissue. Therefore, osteoporosis patients or people suffering from any other bone condition are recommended to consult their doctor to get their vitamin B12 levels checked.
4 Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency appear gradually and intensify over time, even though in some cases they can appear quickly.
1. Strange Sensations, Numbness
You might feel “pins and needles” sensation or numbness running from your head to your feet. The low oxygen levels in cells cause nerve damage which is responsible for these weird pains.
B12 vitamin is involved in the formation of erythrocytes – the cells which carry oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, lack of this vitamin can lead to insufficient amounts of erythrocytes, a condition known as anemia. Anemia sufferers are usually feeling weak and tired. Lack of vitamin B12 can damage your nerves and affect your memory.
3. A Swollen, Inflamed Tongue
Most people with a severe deficiency of this vitamin lose the little bumps on their tongues, known as papillae. They usually lose papillae around the edges of the tongue, as well as taste buds located on these bumps. Loss of taste buds means loss of taste too. Another symptom is soreness and burning sensation on the back of the tongue. Women with lack of vitamin B12 can lose their appetite because the food doesn’t taste as good to them as before, which can result in lost weight.
One of the main symptoms of B12 deficiency is fatigue. Since lack of this vitamin means an insufficient amount of oxygen in cells, these people feel tired regardless how long they sleep. However, being just sleepy doesn’t mean they are deficient of this vitamin. It usually comes with other symptoms, like those mentioned above.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
You can find this vitamin usually in foods from animal sources. However, if the animal is raised in a conventional feedlot environment, the food can contain its own concerns. These are the best non-began food sources of vitamin B12:
Besides being an excellent source of vitamin B12 and potassium, clams are incredibly rich in iron – 3oz of clams contain 126 calories and 23.8 mg iron.
An excellent source of vitamin A and B12. Always try to you choose a leaner beef.
Another great source of this vitamin is eggs. They are cheap and versatile, so you can add them to soups, salads, stir-fries, etc.
Besides having an excellent taste, heritage turkeys are great sources of vitamin B12 – a cup of meat contains 48.2 mg of this vitamin.
Here are several vegan food sources of vitamin B12: nutritional yeasts, cereals, plant-based milk (coconut milk, almond milk, soymilk), cheese, yogurt.