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Why Your Body Needs Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that your body needs for many processes, such as maintaining healthy blood and nerve cells, as well as making DNA.1
Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they can dissolve in water and travel through the bloodstream. Vitamin B12 is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin.2
Here are some reasons why your body needs vitamin B12, symptoms of a B12 deficiency, and how you can consume vitamin B12.
Why Your Body Needs Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body uses each day. Your body needs vitamin B12 for many reasons, including:
- Brain and cognitive functioning
- Nervous system functioning
- Red blood cell formation
- Creating and regulating DNA
- Protecting the eyes
- Energy production2
One of the most important functions of vitamin B12 is that it is necessary for healthy blood. When someone has a vitamin B12 deficiency, there’s a decreased production of red blood cells which can impair oxygen delivery and affect the rest of your body and its functions.
Other Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
- It aids in a healthy pregnancy
- It supports bone health
- It may improve your mood
- It may improve heart health
- It supports healthy hair and skin
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 is found in many foods and is easy to consume. However, vitamin B12 deficiencies are common. These deficiencies are usually caused by a person’s dietary intake or the body’s inability to absorb this vitamin.
- Fatigue. Low levels of B12 can decrease the normal red blood cell production, which impairs oxygen delivery and leaves you feeling weak and tired.
- Headaches. Headaches are very common with a vitamin B12 deficiency, and are among the most commonly reported symptom.5 Brain fog is also associated with B12, with many saying they find it hard to concentrate and complete tasks.
- Muscle weakness. Because B12 impacts the motor and sensory nerve function, a deficiency can cause your muscles to feel weak, which causes them to cramp.
Other symptoms that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency notice include pale skin, mouth ulcers, constipation, difficulty balancing, and irritability.6
Your doctor can perform a blood test to find out if you’re deficient in vitamin B12. If you are deficient in vitamin B12, your doctor may recommend taking oral supplements or getting B12 shots.
Because a consistent or extended deficiency in B12 is dangerous and can lead to health complications such as anemia and neurological problems, it’s important to make sure your body is absorbing vitamin B12.7
How to Naturally Consume Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products. Therefore, if someone follows a vegan or vegetarian diet, they may be more at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency. In this case, it’s important for these individuals to consume vitamin B12 in another form, such as nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, or by taking vitamin supplements.8
You may realize that plenty of the foods you regularly eat contain vitamin B12. Here are some of the foods that contain vitamin B12:
These foods are a great source of vitamin B12.9 If you want to know more about what you can consume to increase your vitamin B12 intake, talk with your doctor.
Learn More Today
Learn more about vitamins, like vitamin B12, and their importance and health benefits. If you suspect you may be deficient, talk with your doctor about your options to ensure a deficiency does not cause any health problems.
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Vitamin B12.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health. July 7th, 2021. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/#:~:text=Vitamin%20B12%20is%20a%20nutrient,makes%20people%20tired%20and%20weak.
- Felman, Adam. “Vitamin B12 benefits, food sources, deficiency symptoms, and all else you need to know.” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. December 13th, 2021. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219822.
- Berkheiser, Kaitlyn. “”9 Health Benefits of Vitamin B12, Based on Science.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. June 14th, 2018. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-benefits.
- Kubala, Jillian. “9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. December 22nd, 2021. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms.
- “Vitamin B12 Deficiency.” National Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441923/.
- “Vitamin B12 Deficiency.” Ada Health GmbH, ada.com. March 14th, 2022. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://ada.com/conditions/vitamin-b12-deficiency/.
- “Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky and harmful.” The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School. March 23rd, 2022. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780.
- Ball, Jessica. “What is Vitamin B12 & Why Do You Need It?” EatingWell.com, eatingwell.com. September 9th, 2021. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7917342/what-is-vitamin-b12/.
- Wiginton, Keri. “Foods You Should Eat if You Have a B12 Deficiency.” WebMD LLC, webmd.com. December 14th, 2021. Accessed April 21st, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/diet/b12-rich-foods