Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that plays several key roles in our bodies, including protecting neurons, synthesizing serotonin, and improving formation of red blood cells.
Since our bodies cannot produce vitamin B12 on their own, we have to depend on supplements for meeting our daily recommended intake.
1. Prevents Anemia By Improving Red Blood Cell Formation
Vitamin B12 is vital for red blood cell (RBC) production.
Deficiency of this vitamin stops the RBCs from developing properly, which can lead to several health issues, including megaloblastic anemia. (1)
When your body has sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, your RBCs are small and round. On the other hand, when your body is running low on this vitamin, the RBCs become large and oval.
Since large cells are difficult to pass from bone marrow, they enter the bloodstream at a slower pace. This disruption in flow causes megaloblastic anemia — which can make you feel:
2. May Prevent Loss of Neurons
Vitamin B12 seems to prevent memory loss and cognitive dysfunctions.
Deficiency of this vitamin is linked to brain atrophy, a mental condition that leads to neuron loss — which can cause memory loss and dementia.
According to a study conducted on people at early stages of dementia, a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids slowed down memory loss and cognitive problems.
Another study concludes that everyone should take a vitamin B12 supplement because it can enhance brain performance even in people without a clinically proven deficiency.
3. May Reduce Depression
Vitamin B12 can help improve your mood.
While its effects on mood are not fully understood, what is known is that it plays a major role in production of serotonin — a chemical responsible for regulating mood.
Since vitamin B12 is directly linked to higher levels of serotonin, people who consume it daily have a lower chance of suffering from anxiety and depression.
According to this study, taking antidepressants along with vitamin B12 supplements is significantly more effective at reducing depression, compared to taking antidepressants alone.
Another study suggests vitamin B12 affects mood in two ways:
- It significantly reduces your risk of suffering from severe depression.
- It increases your chances of recovery from major depressive disorder (MDD).
Health Issues Associated With Vitamin B12 Deficiency
People deficient in vitamin B12 have an increased risk of suffering from several health issues, including:
- Severe depression
- Memory loss and dementia
So if you want to save yourself the discomfort caused by the health issues mentioned above, then add a vitamin B12 supplement to your diet.
Daily Recommended Intake
The daily recommended intake (DRI) of vitamin B12 varies by age:
- 8 micrograms for children (9 to 13 years)
- 4 micrograms for teenagers and adults.
- 6 micrograms for pregnant women and 2.8 micrograms for women who’re breastfeeding.
Furthermore, the DRI also varies by the condition the user is trying to treat. Some conditions require a much higher dosage of vitamin B12 than others.
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