The Health Benefits of Vitamin B12 in your body are impressive from the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that works with many other B vitamins to carry out key roles in the functions of the human body.
It was discovered as a result of its relationship to the disease pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disease in which the parietal cells of the stomach responsible for secreting intrinsic factors are destroyed. These cells are also responsible for gastric acid secretion. 1
How is it produced?
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body can’t make on its own. It is produced in nature only by prokaryotes in the form of certain bacteria and archaea. As such, animals, including humans, must obtain it from the food they eat and take them into the digestive system producing cobalamin internally. 2
Vitamin B12 Benefits
1. Helps in the production of healthy red blood cells
You need cobalamin to make red blood cells which carry oxygen through your body. Not having enough of it can lead to anemia, which means your body does not have enough red blood cells to do the job. It causes symptoms like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, clumsiness, and dry skin.3
2. It helps keep the body’s nerve function
Vitamin B12 helps produce the fatty sheath (myelin) that surrounds and protects your nerves. When you are deficient of this vitamin, your nerve cells can’t function properly and it damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerves. Without this protection, nerves cease to function properly and conditions such as peripheral neuropathy occur. 4
3. Prevents anxiety and depression
Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that regulate mood and other brain functions such as serotonin. Low levels of B12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B6 and folate may be linked to depression.
One study in people with depression and low vitamin B12 levels found that those who received both antidepressants and cobalamin treatment were more likely to show good responses compared to those treated with antidepressants alone.5
4. Promotes cardiovascular health
Vitamin B12, in combination with vitamin B6 and folate, has been shown to control high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid that is associated with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases.
5. Prevents brain atrophy
Vitamin B12 supplementation helps prevent brain shrinkage in older people with deficiency in their blood. The vitamin may play a role in preventing brain atrophy, which is the loss of brain cells and often associated with memory loss or dementia.
In a study from the University of Oxford in Britain, researchers found out that low B12 was associated with brain shrinkage. Those with low levels of the vitamin lost twice as much brain volume as those with high levels for a period of five years.6
6. Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk
It may help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease by reducing levels of homocysteine. Researchers found that each picomolar increase in blood vitamin B12 level was associated with a 2% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly. 7
7.Boosts energy levels
One of the most notable vitamin B12 benefits is a boost in energy because of its benefit in the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen to your vital organs which prevents your body from feeling weak and tired.
Food sources of cobalamin include poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products. Cobalamin is also added to some foods and is available as a supplement.
Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin B12
The amount of vitamin B12 you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts for different ages are listed below in micrograms (mcg):
Birth to 6 months – 0.4 mcg
Infants 7–12 months- 0.5 mcg
Children 1–3 years- 0.9 mcg
Children 4–8 years – 1.2 mcg
Children 9–13 years- 1.8 mcg
Teens 14–18 years- 2.4 mcg
Adults- 2.4 mcg
Pregnant teens and women 2.6 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women 2.8 mcg
Vitamin B12 Absorption
Two steps are required for the body to absorb cobalamin from food. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates cobalamin from the protein to which it is attached in food. It then combines with an intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein found made by the stomach, promoting its absorption through ileal receptors.
Some people have trouble absorbing this vitamin from all foods and dietary supplements due to some conditions such as:
- Lack of intrinsic factor
- Repeated exposure to nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Overgrowth of bacteria in part of the small intestine
- Surgery that removes the part of the small intestine where absorption happens.
- Malabsorption disorders such as celiac disease or certain pancreatic disorders
- Bariatric surgery for weight loss
- Inflammatory bowel disease affecting the last part of the small intestine
- Fish tapeworm infection
- Decreased stomach acidity (common among older people)
- Intake of antacids and metformin
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
B12 deficiency, when left untreated can lead to the following conditions:
- Anemia develops, causing paleness, weakness, fatigue, and, if severe, shortness of breath and dizziness.
- Deficiency may damage nerves, causing tingling or loss of sensation in the hands and feet, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, difficulty walking, confusion, and dementia.
Vitamin B12 Injection Supplement
Most people get enough of B12 from a balanced diet. However, those people who have conditions that affect their ability to absorb this from foods might benefit from the use of vitamin B12 injections such as Hydroxocobalamin B12 and Methylcobalamin B12.
When taken at appropriate doses, supplements are generally considered safe. Your body absorbs only as much as it needs, and any excess passes through your urine.
If you think you may need cobalamin supplements, you should look no further than The HCG Institute Online. Contact us today and reap the health benefits of Vitamin B12!
2. O’Leary F, Samman S. Vitamin B12 in health and disease. Nutrients. 2010;2(3):299-316. doi:10.3390/nu2030299
3. Ankar A, Kumar A. Vitamin B12 Deficiency. [Updated 2020 Jun 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
4. Wu F, Xu K, Liu L, et al. Vitamin B12 Enhances Nerve Repair and Improves Functional Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury by Inhibiting ER Stress-Induced Neuron Injury. Front Pharmacol. 2019;10:406. Published 2019 Apr 24. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.00406
5. Syed EU, Wasay M, Awan S. Vitamin B12 supplementation in treating major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Open Neurol J. 2013;7:44-48. Published 2013 Nov 15. doi:10.2174/1874205X01307010044
6.Health Quality Ontario. Vitamin B12 and cognitive function: an evidence-based analysis. Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2013;13(23):1-45. Published 2013 Nov 1.
7. Soh Y, Lee DH, Won CW. Association between Vitamin B12 levels and cognitive function in the elderly Korean population. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020;99(30):e21371. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000021371.