When it comes to our health, most of us have general knowledge that we need to get the full spectrum of vitamins. But, we don’t really know what each one does. Do you know the difference between B6 and B12 and what foods provide them? B12 is one of the most important vitamins we need for our nervous system and energy levels and offers a wide range of benefits. Many vegans, vegetarians, and people who eat gluten-free choose to take a supplement for B12 to avoid malnutrition and anemia.
Because B12 occurs naturally in meat, eggs, and fish, supplementation can be helpful for people who don’t eat those foods. Rumors exist that bananas and raw honey have B12s in them, but, so far, no plant has been found to contain the vitamin. Here are the reasons you should get regular doses of B12 in your diet.
Gives You Energy
B12 helps the chemistry in your body so you can have adequate supplies of energy. Red blood cells are essential for your energy and vitamin B12 helps your body produce them. Just as you will feel fatigued if you don’t get enough iron and fat, you will feel fatigued if you don’t get enough B12 vitamins.
Many people struggle with not feeling energized during the day. Often, people reach for a cup of coffee or an energy drink when all they really need is to make sure they have an adequate supply of vitamin B12. If you feel chronically tired, a B12 deficiency could be the culprit. While your brain also needs some type of healthy fat to get energy everyday, you also need this essential vitamin.
Helps Heal Depression
B12 helps with the body’s stress responses and helps regulate the nervous system. Studies have shown that B12 can help prevent and treat depression without the harmsful side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. Because B12 helps the brain (just as it helps avoid Alzheimer’s), it can help with different mood disorders. Whether you are thinking preventatively or trying to treat a mood disorder, B12s have been proven to be helpful.
Lowers Risk of Birth Defects
At the cellular level, B12s help the creation of DNA. During pregnancy, this vitamin is a key component of developing a healthy child. Scientific studies show that B12 supplements can reduce the risk of birth defects such as Down’s syndrome. Mothers can choose to eat B12s in their diet or take a supplement to ensure they get adequate supplies for them and their baby. Mother’s can also take a pregnancy supplement which will give them the added boost of vitamins they need for their baby.
Helps Treat Hepatitis C
The reason B12 is helpful in the treatment of hepatitis C is because of how it helps the body’s immune system. Believe it or not, just taking a B12 supplement has been shown to improve the treatment of hepatitis C by 34%. If hepatitis C is not a concern for you, at least you know that B12 is also going to strengthen your immune system. A strong immune system can help keep you from getting colds, flus, and other viruses. While B12s do not cure hepatitis C, they certainly make treatment more effective.
Improves Cognitive Function
If you want a sharp mind that will increase your productivity, consider taking vitamin B12. The reason it helps your brain is because it regulates compounds that can cause the brain to function improperly. One of these compounds, homocysteine, has been found to impede mental function if it’s over produced in the brain. The regulating effect of B12 on the chemistry in your brain is undoubtedly helpful for your ability to retain and recall information.
Helps Prevent Some Cancers
As previously mentioned, vitamin B12 will help synthesize DNA. This is important when it comes to preventing diseases such as cancer. Scientific studies showed that a B12 supplement can help reduce the onset of colon cancer by a staggering 40%. This includes individuals who are predisposed to colon cancer because it runs in the family. While this should not be the only measure you take to prevent cancer, it’s just one thing that can help in addition to a healthy diet, low stress levels, and regular exercise.
B12 works with other vitamins to help keep the cells healthy. Folic acid is one essential nutrient that must be combined with B12 in order for it to be processed by the body. Folic acid is naturally occurring in flour (which is why gluten-free individuals take a folic acid supplement). You’ll notice many supplements combine B12 with folic acid because they work well together.
Helps Reduce Effects of Anemia
Vitamin absorption is a key component of combating anemia. While anemia itself comes from a lack of iron, when someone is anemic they will not be able to properly absorb many nutrients including B12. It is recommended that people who are anemic take an extra dose of B12 so they can absorb enough and hopefully keep their energy levels up. This is a common problem among people that try to switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet and are still learning how to get all the nutrients their body needs.
Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease is still the leading cause of the death in the United States due to poor diets and low exercise levels. People can help reduce their risk of heart disease by incorporating a supplement of B12 with a healthy diet and exercise plan. B12 works specifically to help the heart by lowering the risk of blood clots. While B12s cannot guarantee you won’t develop heart disease, it is an important addition to your diet. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have one magic answer, rather it’s a collection of healthy habits. Fatty acids for instance also help to reduce the risk of getting a blood clot which can lead to a heart attack.
As humans age, it seems that the memory starts to fade. For people that take a B12 supplement, the memory stays in tact for longer than those who don’t. Mental health is directly linked to what we consume or don’t consume and scientific studies showed that elderly people have a better memory if they take a B12 supplement everyday. This makes it pretty clear that it’s something we should be taking at any age if we want to stay alert and be able to think as clearly as possible.
Certain studies have shown that vitamin B12 can reduce the development of Alzheimer’s because it will help regulate the compound homocysteine in the body. When the body has too much of this compound, Alzheimer’s develops easier. While this compound naturally occurs in the body just as estrogen, testosterone, and Cortisol do, an overproduction of any of these compounds can be detrimental. So far, studies have shown B12s will lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by just 2%, but more studies are still being done on the subject.