Vitamin B12


“Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin found in foods such as meat, fish, and dairy.  Vitamin B12 is required for the function and development of many parts of the body, including the brain, nerves, and blood cells. Methylcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B12. People commonly use vitamin B12 for vitamin B12 deficiency, cyanide poisoning, and high levels of homocysteine in the blood. It is also used for canker sores, cataracts, Alzheimer disease, osteoporosis, fatigue, and many other conditions.”

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce. It’s found naturally in animal products, but also added to certain foods and available as an oral supplement or injection. Vitamin B12 has many roles in your body. It supports the function of your nerve cells and is needed for red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis. For most adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 2.4 micrograms (mcg), though it’s higher for people who are pregnant or nursing. Vitamin B12 supplements may benefit your body and overall health in different ways, from helping your eyes and mind to benefiting your bones, hair, and skin.

Helps with red blood cell formation and anemia prevention

Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in helping your body produce red blood cells. Low vitamin B12 levels cause a reduction in red blood cell formation and prevent them from developing properly. Healthy red blood cells are small and round, whereas they become larger and typically oval in cases of vitamin B12 deficiency. Due to this larger and irregular shape, the red blood cells are unable to move from the bone marrow into the bloodstream at an appropriate rate, causing megaloblastic anemia. When you have anemia, your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to your vital organs. This can cause symptoms like fatigue and weakness.

May prevent major birth issues

Adequate vitamin B12 levels are crucial to a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the beginning stages of pregnancy may increase the risk of birth issues, such as neural tube defects. Furthermore, maternal vitamin B12 deficiency may contribute to premature birth or pregnancy loss. One older study found that birthing mothers with vitamin B12 levels lower than 250 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) were 2.5–3 times more likely to give birth to a child with birth defects, compared to those with adequate levels. For those with a vitamin B12 deficiency and levels below 150 mg/dL the risk was 5 times higher, compared to those with levels above 400 mg/dL.

May support bone health and prevent osteoporosis

Maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels may support your bone health. Bones with decreased mineral density can become delicate and fragile over time, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis. This 2021 research also noted a possible link between low vitamin B12 levels and poor bone health and osteoporosis or fracture risk. In general, clinical research doesn’t support the use of supplemental B vitamins to prevent osteoporotic fractures. More conclusive research is needed. Macular degeneration is an eye disease that mainly affects your central vision. This 2022 study points to a link between B vitamins and the risk for macular degeneration, noting that a high dietary intake of these vitamins is associated with lower rates of advanced age-related macular degeneration. More research is needed to fully understand vitamin B12’s role in promoting vision health and preventing macular degeneration.

May improve mood and symptoms of depression

Vitamin B12 may improve your mood. A 2019 research review noted that B vitamins may help improve moods related to stress, for both healthy people and those more at risk for depressive symptoms. A 2020 research review analyzing dozens of other studies also noted that even without concrete evidence that B12 specifically affects depression or depressive symptoms, it did find that research points to lower vitamin B12 levels as a higher risk factor for depression. Yet, other research did not find vitamin B12 supplements were effective for depression aside from those people with advanced neurological conditions. This is an area that needs more research to determine the exact effects of B vitamins and B12 on mood as well as depressive symptoms.

May benefit your brain and memory

Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with memory loss, especially in older adults. One study in people with early-stage dementia showed that vitamin B12 may help slow cognitive decline in certain people, but only those who have higher omega-3 fatty acid levels. Those with lower omega-3 fatty acid levels did not experience any slowing of mental decline. Another study found that even vitamin B12 levels on the low side of normal can contribute to poor memory performance. More research with larger numbers of people is needed.

May impact your energy levels (if you don’t get enough B12)

Vitamin B12 supplements have long been touted as a go-to product for a surge of energy. But that’s not exactly true, according to the clinical research on this topic. Sure, all B vitamins play an important role in your body’s energy production, though they don’t necessarily provide energy themselves. People who experience vitamin B12 deficiency do tend to experience fatigue or a lack of energy, as a common early symptom. Some research indicates that these people may be able to take vitamin supplements or increase their intake to boost energy levels — but that’s really just addressing the underlying deficiency and lower energy level associated with that. Clinical research does not show that people can just take B-vitamin or B12 supplements or increase their levels and suddenly get more energy.

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Vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12 is crucial to various bodily processes, including :
  • normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.
  • cognitive functioning (ability to think)
  • formation of red blood cells and anemia prevention.
  • helping create and regulate DNA.
  • possibly preventing congenital abnormalities.

Vitamin B12 supplements (along with other B vitamins) reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a compound linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

All B vitamins (except for folate) are involved in your body’s processes of producing energy. Therefore, supplements of these vitamins may have an energizing effect. For example, it’s better to take vitamin B12 in the morning for this reason. It’s also important to take vitamin B6 during the day.

The usual dose for: diet-related deficiency is 50 micrograms to 150 micrograms, taken once a day. B12 deficiency not caused by your diet is one to two 1,000 microgram tablets, taken once or twice a day – this is usually if you cannot have vitamin B12 injections.

You can take vitamins B12 and D together. Many supplements combine these two vitamins. Vitamin D is fat-soluble while B12 is water-soluble; it doesn’t matter if you take them at the same time or not.

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Since B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, it’s generally considered safe, even at high doses. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) has been established for B12, due to its low level of toxicity. UL refers to the maximum daily dose of a vitamin unlikely to cause adverse side effects in the general population.

Dosages for Older People

When you’re in your 60s you should officially start getting blood tests to test for vitamin B12 deficiency. Around this age, you should be getting around 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day.

Taking too much can cause side effects like nausea, headache, dizziness, and in rarely, blood clots or cancer. Everyone needs vitamin B-12, and most people get enough through their diet. However, it’s important to know what side effects occur when you take too much

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause symptoms that affect your brain and nervous system (neurological symptoms), including:
  • numbness.
  • muscle weakness.
  • psychological problems, which can range from mild depression or anxiety, to confusion and dementia.
  • problems with balance and coordination.
  • pins and needles.
  • incontinence.

It may take a few weeks before your vitamin B12 levels and symptoms (such as extreme tiredness or lack of energy) start to improve. If you have hydroxocobalamin injections to boost your vitamin B12 levels at the start of treatment, the cyanocobalamin tablets may start to work within a few days.


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