Have you been forgetful lately or feeling more fatigued than usual? Maybe you've been feeling less hungry or have noticed some weight loss. There's a common reason for all of these symptoms and it can be linked right back to your diet. If you're not getting enough vitamin B12, you'd be surprised at how much havoc it can wreak on your body's most basic functions.
What is Vitamin B12 and Why Does it Matter?
Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a crucial vitamin your body needs but can't make on its own. It's primarily found in animal products, but can be added to foods or taken as a supplement. Vitamin B12 is important to your body because it supports the normal function of your nerves and is used in the formation of red blood cells and DNA synthesis. That's not all it does, though. It can boost your energy, protect against heart disease and even boost your memory.
Feeling Run Down? Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
We get it. Life's busy and it's easy to dismiss feeling down as a sign you've been working hard. Being tired can be normal, but sometimes, feeling run down is a sign that something else is going on. Before you reach for that umpteenth cup of coffee, it may be worth speaking to a doctor about your symptoms.
Most adults get enough vitamin B12 during their meals to meet their daily recommended intake of 2.4 micrograms. However, vegetarians and vegans, in particular, may be at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Older adults are at an increased risk of deficiency because their bodies often stop processing and absorbing vitamin B12 as efficiently as they begin to age.
If you're worried about a vitamin B12 deficiency, the best thing you can do is get to the doctor to be tested. The next best thing is to start cleaning up your diet. Check out these signs of vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Yellowish tinge to the skin
- Glossitis (sore and red tongue)
- Pins and needles
- Mouth ulcers
- Altered walking and moving
- Vision disturbances
- Altered thinking
- Decline in mental capabilities
The Many Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
If you're looking for a way to boost your health, adding vitamin B12 rich food to your diet is a great starting point. Consciously choosing to add these foods to your diet can bring several health benefits and keep you feeling your best.
- Heart Health. Vitamin B12 is important for reducing the level of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, at high levels, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 can help lower homocysteine levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- May Prevent Birth Defects. A birth defect is a physical or structural abnormality that is present at birth. These abnormalities can occur during fetal development, and they may be caused by genetic or environmental factors, or a combination of both. Vitamin B12 consumption in pregnant women is linked to reduced risk of premature birth and neural tube defects.
- May Prevent Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a medical condition characterized by weak and brittle bones that are more prone to fractures. It occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become thin and weak, and they can break easily, even as a result of minor falls or bumps. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Helps Prevent Anemia. Anemia is a medical condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. When the body doesn't have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, it can't get enough oxygen to the tissues and organs. Vitamin B12 helps your body create healthy red blood cells.
- May Boost Moods. Some studies have suggested that vitamin B12 may play a role in regulating mood and reducing the risk of depression. It may also help improve symptoms of anxiety and stress. Vitamin B12 is important for synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin, making it important in mood regulation.
- May Prevent the Loss of Neurons and Improve Brain Functionality. When there is a loss of neurons in the brain, it means that the brain cells are dying or being destroyed. Neurons are the cells that make up the brain and nervous system, and they are responsible for transmitting information and signals throughout the body. When neurons are lost, this can lead to a range of neurological and cognitive problems, including memory loss, impaired movement, and changes in behavior or mood. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to poor memory performance and memory loss. Increasing vitamin B12 consumption alongside omega-3 fatty acid supplements is linked to slowing mental decline.
- Supports Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails. Having healthy hair, skin, and nails means that these features are strong, vibrant, and well-nourished. The appearance and health of hair, skin, and nails are largely influenced by a person's overall health, lifestyle habits, and genetics. Vitamin B12 is important to cell production, especially in the hair, skin and nails.
Which Foods are Rich in Vitamin B12?
Foods rich in vitamin B12 are important, but they're especially important for vegetarians, people who are nursing or pregnant or people who are elderly. Check out these foods rich in vitamin B12 and see why an apple a day isn't the only food that can keep the doctor away.
- Clams (84 mcg vitamin B12 per 3 ounce serving)
- Liver (70.7 mcg vitamin B12 per 3 ounce serving)
- Fortified cereal (6 mcg vitamin B12 per 1 cup serving)
- Trout (5.4 mcg vitamin B12 per 3 ounce serving)
- Salmon (4.5 mcg vitamin B12 per 3 ounce serving)
- Beef (1.5 mcg vitamin B12 per 3 ounce serving)
- Plain Greek nonfat yogurt (1.3 mcg vitamin B12 per 6 ounce serving)
- Low-fat milk (1.2 mcg vitamin B12 per 1 cup serving)
- Egg (0.6 mcg vitamin B12 per 1 egg)
- Chicken breast (0.3 mcg vitamin B12 per 3 ounce serving)