Vitamin B12 can be one of the most overwhelming supplements to learn about. The supposed benefits read on and on, and it can seem like there are enough supplements available to fill an entire grocery store.
But don’t let the amount of information discourage you from learning about B12 and adding it to your diet. It’s absolutely crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s break the B12 discussion into smaller chunks and explore the uses and precautions associated with the supplement.
Why take it as a supplement?
Vitamin B12 can be found naturally in foods, which leads many people to shy away from taking supplements.
After all, if you can get it naturally in your meals, why take pills for it?
A few reasons.
First, some people actually don’t absorb enough natural vitamin B12 from foods. This makes it imperative that those individuals take supplements to avoid prolonged deficiency and the permanent nerve damage that can result from it.
Second, B12 is only found in meat and dairy products. That leaves vegans at high risk for deficiency unless they eat fortified foods artificially supplemented with vitamin B12 or take B12 supplements.
Lastly, supplements can be a great way to keep track of your vitamin intake. This can be convenient if you suffer from a condition that leads to vitamin B12 deficiency, such as atrophic gastritis, Crohn’s disease or lupus.
Common Uses For B12 Supplements
B12 is crucial in helping your body convert food into glucose, which provides you energy.
According to Dr. Susan Shurin, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, B12 can not only boost energy but mood as well.
Studies have found that B12 is helpful in preventing and treating memory-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is due to the vitamin’s role in sustaining nerves.
On a day-to-day basis, maintaining appropriate levels of vitamin B12 is crucial to keeping your memory sharp.
Nervous System Function
Do you suffer from anxiety, depression or another nervous system-related disorder? Researchers are considering folic acid and vitamin B12 as potential treatment options for these conditions.
Vitamin B12 in particular works to produce a compound known as S-adenosyl methionine, which helps the brain deal with stress and emotion regulation.
Megaloblastic anemia is a condition in which red blood cells swell to a larger size than normal. Vitamin B12 injections are often used by doctors to treat the condition.
Supplements taken before the onset of megaloblastic anemia can reduce one’s risk.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that can cause cardiovascular disease in elevated amounts. Cardiovascular disease is currently the number one cause of death around the world.
Vitamin B12 protects against cardiovascular disease by lowering high levels of homocysteine in the blood.
The vitamin also works to control buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Doctors have yet to find a dosage level at which vitamin B12 is harmful. Even 10,000 straight injections of B12 a day are not enough to produce a harmful overdose.
That said, taking too much vitamin B12 can cause acne.
As with any supplement, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking vitamin B12 – particularly if you intend to take it for treatment of a health condition.
The Journal of Psychopharmacology
American Academy of Family Physicians