If you live above ground and are at the very least “health curious” then its likely you’ve herd of vitamin B12. Increase your energy level, improve concentration and memory, uplift your mood—these are just a few claims you might have heard from pop health pundits on the internet or television. It sounds pretty fantastic! After all, who doesn’t want more energy, better concentration, improved memory, and feel to happier?
More than just a trending health topic, vitamin B12 is kind of a big deal. Beyond the above claims, research shows this nutrient is essential for cardiovascular health, DNA production, proper brain function, and nervous system health.
- Also called Cobalamin, this nutrient is one of eight B vitamins that help the body convert the food you eat into fuel (glucose) which is used to give you energy.
- Vitamin B12 specifically is essential for the formation and maturation of red blood cells which, among many other very important functions, cary oxygen around the body through the blood stream.
- B12 helps prevent “megaloblastic anemia” which is a chronic blood disorder in which overly large and immature blood cells are produced. As a result, the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood to cary oxygen around the body and this leaves people feeling tired or weak.
- It is also necessary to maintain proper brain function. Because our brains require a large amount or aerobic energy—oxygen-requiring energy production in mitochondria— it is important the red blood cells are healthy and able to circulate oxygen throughout the body and to the brain. B12 Deficiency has been linked to moderate to severe memory loss and other impaired brain functions.
- Vitamin B12 is also vital in the maintenance of the nervous system—when B12 levels get low insulin sheath around the nerve fibers begin to break down which makes it difficult for signals to reach the more distant areas of the body.
- B12 helps keep your skin appearing healthy by playing a roll in regulating your skin’s pigment production and location, which in turn helps prevent hyperpigmentation.
- It is also required in the replication of DNA—the backbone for all life. When deficient in vitamin B12, our DNA cannot replicate normally—meaning we cannot generate new, healthy cells.
By making sure you are taking in enough of this nutrient—either through your diet, supplements, or B12 injections—you can avoid vitamin B12 deficiency with its associated symptoms such as:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
- light headedness or dizziness
- Memory loss
- Attention deficit disorder
- Mood swings
- Loss of taste and/or smell
- Incontinence (lack of bladder or bowl control)
- Psychoses (abnormal condition of the mind)
B12 deficiency can mimic all the effects of aging. There is also some research that suggests a link between vitamin B12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, homocysteine and Cardiovascular disease.
If you read the above and have experienced one or more of the listed issues, then your probably wondering “am I getting enough B12 in my diet?” Vitamin B12 can be found naturally in beef liver, clams (best source), fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and fortified foods. For some people, these natural sources provide enough B12 to maintain good health, but for many others it is not enough.
Studies show Vitamin B12 is one of the most difficult nutrients for your body to absorb, which is one reason why so many people become deficient.
People at risk for B12 deficiency include:
- The elderly
- People with eating disorders
- People who are HIV-positive
- People with Celiac or Crohn’s disease
- Vegans or Vegetarians who don’t eat any or enough eggs or dairy products.
- People who take prescription antacids, anti seizure medications, colchine, chemotherapy medications, or aspirin
- Heavy drinkers
- People who have undergone surgery that removed part of the stomach or small intestines—this includes weight loss surgery
- People with immune system disorders—such as Graves disease or Lupus
Also, your body has an increased need for B12 if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffering from alcoholism, fever, chronic stress, or thyroid disease.
For those people who would rather not wait for a serious issue to surface before finding out they have vitamin B12 deficiency, a simple blood test can determine the B12 levels in your body. If it is found that your supplies are low, a doctor may suggest supplementing your diet with B12 pills or injections.
B12 injections have an advantage over pills. Because the nutrient is naturally difficult for your body to absorb, the injection stream lines the process and is more quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Most people who opt for the injection report an improvement in their energy level within a few days, if not sooner. Also, the shots have been shown to be effective in terms of clearer skin, improved memory, better sleep, and overall improving mood and sense of wellbeing.
Call or schedule and appointment today with FitMD to learn more about B12 injections.