The benefits of vitamin B12 are almost numerous too numerous to count. Maintaining enough vitamin B12 in your blood supply is necessary for many vital biochemical functions, and for avoiding detrimental symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 benefits production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system, DNA synthesis, cognitive health, regulating hormones like homocysteine, and sustaining energy.
Here are some of the ways that vitamin B12 benefits your body...
Vitamin B12 Benefits the nerves
To begin, vitamin B12 benefits your nerve cells by sustaining myelin, a fatty coating that encases each individual nerve unit, thus protecting it from outside damage and enhancing intercellular communication. Without enough vitamin B12, you may risk severe impairment or loss of these vital nerve cells.
As a result, you suffer nervous system impairments, such as painful tingling in the hands and feet, numbness, burning tongue sensations, difficulty grasping things with your hands, and trouble walking or maintaining balance.
Examples of demyelinating illnesses are multiple sclerosis (MS) and peripheral neuropathy from vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 benefits your red blood cells
Vitamin B12 is instrumental in regulating production of healthy red blood cells. With vitamin B12 deficiency, instead of manufacturing normal-sized red blood cells, your body develops oversized, misshapen blood cells that are unusable. Instead of transporting oxygen throughout your body, they become trapped in your bone marrow, unable to provide benefits.
As a result, you suffer symptoms of oxygen depletion, which cause difficulty thinking (brain fog), fatigue, and other cognitive impairments.
Who benefits from vitamin B12 supplementation?
Certain risk factors necessitate taking vitamin B12 as part of a daily nutrition regimen to avoid deficiency and provide optimal vitamin B12 benefits.
If you have had bariatric surgery, refrain from eating meat, milk, and fish (rich sources of vitamin B12), suffer from autoimmune disorders, such as the inability to produce intrinsic factor (a necessary digestive enzyme for absorbing vitamin B12), suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, are among the elderly, or suffer from alcoholism, then you are advised to take a blood test in order to determine if you have vitamin B12 deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Numbness and tingling in your hands or feet
- Muscle weakness
- Poor appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Sore mouth and tongue
- Confusion (brain fog)
- Memory problems
- Mood disorders
Which supplements provide the most vitamin B12 benefits?
Many physicians disagree over the most efficient forms of vitamin B12. The main venues are vitamin B12 shots, sublingual vitamin B12 tablets, vitamin B12 pills, and other forms of over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12.
The vitamin B12 shots are available through prescription, though some states may allow non-prescription sales of vitamin B12 for self-injection. Still, this practice is rare. Generally, the doctor decides how much vitamin B12 you need, and prescribes the dosage accordingly. Vitamin B12 shots contain liquid B12, a thick substance that requires injection into thick, fleshy muscular tissue, so they are often painful and sometimes leave bruising.
Vitamin B12 pills provide no benefits to people who cannot make intrinsic factor, as they are unable to digest vitamin B12 in the stomach.
Sublingual vitamin B12 dissolves under your tongue and, according to manufacturers, enters the bloodstream. However, the efficiency of sublingual vitamin B12 is under debate, as some argue that they do not break down properly, and instead enter the digestive system as any other pill or food source, and thus provide no vitamin B12 benefits.
There are various other types of over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 available at your local pharmacies that are helpful for providing extra vitamin B12 benefits, or as an alternative to painful vitamin B12 shots.