Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin. It possesses many powerful properties and is an essential nutrient for your overall health and well-being.
Vitamin B12 contributes to the successful synthesis of DNA, the production of hemoglobin, and the normal functioning of your nervous system. Your liver is the main storage site for vitamin B12, but it cannot be made within the body.
You need to get your B12 from dietary sources, fortified foods, and supplements. Since the 1950s, vitamin B12 has been known as the “painkilling vitamin,” but there are many more benefits you should know about.
10 Important Benefits of Vitamin B12
- Kills Pain: Methylcobalamin, which is a form of vitamin B12, reduces clinical symptoms such as paresthesia. This is an abnormal tingling or prickling sensation in your legs.
It has also been shown to help relieve both burning and spontaneous pains in patients with neck pain or lower back pain. Vitamin B12 provides effective pain management for mouth ulcers, neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy.
- Brain Power
- Cognitive Boost: Because B12 can regulate the compounds known to cause improper brain function, it is thought to be a necessary component for cognitive function. Homocysteine is a compound that impedes mental function, and, by blocking this, B12 helps your brain to retain and recall information more efficiently.
Vitamin B12 has also been shown to play a role in the prevention of brain development and mood disorders. Alzheimer’s patients and those with vascular dementia also saw improvements in symptoms with regular B12 supplements.
Because it repairs the negative effects of ischemia on your brain neurons and increases the regeneration of axons to promote neuron repair, vitamin B12 is essential to the health of your brain. (1)
- Better Sleep
- Sleeping Well: B12 has the ability to decrease melatonin levels, thereby increasing the light sensitivity of circadian rhythms. This means it can be used to treat sleep-wake rhythm disorders. (2)
Insomnia is a disorder in which you struggle to fall asleep and wake feeling more tired than when you went to bed. Vitamin B12 is able to combat this sleep issue by altering hormone levels and retraining your circadian rhythm.
- Helps Prevent Cancer
- Cancer fighter: Vitamin B12 helps synthesize DNA, and this is critical when it comes to preventing cancer. Vitamin B12 supplements can reduce your risk of colon cancer by as much as 40%, even in those who are predisposed for genetic reasons.
This vitamin works with other nutrients, such as folic acid (vitamin B9), to keep your cells healthy. Folic acid is essential to brain development but can only be properly processed by your body when combined with vitamin B12.
- Reduces Depression
- Mood Boost: This vitamin helps with your body’s stress response and regulates your nervous system. (3) Because of this, it can be useful in treating depression and other mood disorders without the potentially harmful side effects that come with medications.
- Boosts Energy
- Extra energy: Red blood cells play an important role in energy production, and B12 supports their production. You can feel just as fatigued from a lack of B12 as you can from a lack of iron and fat.
While most of us reach for the coffee or energy drinks to get us through our day, we should be taking a vitamin B12 supplement instead. Chronically feeling tired every day could be a sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency and needs immediate attention.
- Promotes Heart Health
- CV Health: Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. because of poor diets and a lack of exercise. Supplementing B12 in your daily diet can dramatically reduce your risks of blood clots and heart disease, especially when combined with a balanced diet and exercise.
- Anti-Aging Powers
- Anti-Aging: The regulation of the compound homocysteine helps protect your brain. When too much of this compound is in your system, Alzheimer’s can develop more easily.
This compound naturally occurs in your body, but what it is still important to ensure you keep the levels regulated. B12 supplements can achieve this regulation, lowering your risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other age-related disorders.
- Reduces Effects of Anemia
- Anemia: Anemia comes from having a lack of iron, impeding your body’s ability to properly absorb the vitamins and nutrients it needs. If you suffer from an iron deficiency, it is recommended that you take an additional dose of vitamin B12.
- Pregnancy and Birth Support
- Pregnancy: With vitamin B12’s role in DNA synthesis, it makes sense that pregnancy and birth would benefit from a B12 supplement. Supplements can reduce the risks of birth defects such as Down’s syndrome because of their essential role in healthy development. (4)
Pregnant mothers can increase their dietary sources of B12 or take daily supplements to ensure that their growing baby gets all the health benefits of B12.
*Bonus* Benefit and Final Thoughts
In addition to these incredible health benefits, vitamin B12 is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It has the ability to suppress cytokine production of T-cells, which are thought to be a major component of rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammation is a central part of many serious diseases and health problems, so by regulating the inflammatory response, your body is protected from chronic inflammation. Autoimmune disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, and arthritis are all complications caused by an out-of-control inflammatory response.
Consult with your doctor first, but, instead of turning to medications that could have negative side effects, a simple B12 supplement could be your solution.
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in meat, fish, and eggs. So far, no plants have been found to contain the vitamin, which is why so many vegans and vegetarians are prone to B12 deficiency. To maintain a healthy heart, nervous system, circulatory system, and proper energy levels, you need to keep your vitamin B12 levels up.
If you follow a restricted diet of any kind, supplements work just as well as natural dietary sources. Vitamin B12 offers too many health benefits to be left off the menu, so stock up now, and reap the rewards tomorrow.