In order to maintain overall health, including the function of our nervous system and the creation of red blood cells, vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient. Numerous symptoms associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency may have an impact on our mood and cognitive function. Fatigue, weakness, constipation, appetite loss, weight loss, nerve damage, and cognitive decline are some of the most typical signs of a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Fatigue, which can result from the body's inability to produce enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to the body's cells, is one of the most significant signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Even the simplest tasks can be challenging to complete when you're tired, and it can also be a major source of stress and anxiety.
A Vitamin B12 deficiency is also frequently accompanied by symptoms of depression, mood swings, and irritability. This is because vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters that control our mood and cognitive function, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Memory loss and cognitive decline are additional indicators of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Because of this, it might be challenging to concentrate, recall information, and make choices. A lack of vitamin B12 has been linked to brain shrinkage and the emergence of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, according to research.
The lack of vitamin B12 is not always obvious, and many people may not become aware of their deficiency until it is too late. To test for deficiency and consider supplementation, speak with your doctor if you notice any symptoms of fatigue, mood swings, or cognitive decline.
In 1948, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh made the initial discovery of vitamin B12. They found that a deficiency in the vitamin resulted in a condition known as pernicious anemia, which is brought on by the stomach's inability to produce an element known as intrinsic factor, which is required for the absorption of Vitamin B12. The vitamin was given the name "cyanocobalamin" because it contains a cyanide molecule, but it was later discovered that this form was inactive in humans. As a result, other forms of B12 were isolated and discovered to be more effective, such as methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
How it works
Vitamin B12 is crucial for the body's proper operation and plays a number of important roles in preserving general health. The following are just a few of vitamin B12's crucial jobs:
Red blood cell production: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the development of red blood cells, which are in charge of delivering oxygen to the body's cells. Megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by the production of large, immature red blood cells that are unable to effectively carry oxygen, can result from a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Nervous system health: Vitamin B12 is essential for the healthy operation of the nervous system. It contributes to the development of myelin, the covering that safeguards nerve cells and lessens the risk of nerve damage. The hands and feet may experience numbness, tingling, and weakness as a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is necessary for the metabolism, which turns food into energy. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy source for the body's cells, is produced by the body with its assistance. The effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include weakness and exhaustion.
DNA synthesis: Vitamin B12 is necessary for DNA synthesis. DNA is the genetic material that contains the instructions necessary for all living things to grow, reproduce, and function.
Neurotransmitter production: Vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are the substances that enable communication between nerve cells. Serotonin and dopamine are two neurotransmitters that are crucial for controlling mood, memory, and cognitive function. These neurotransmitters may change as a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency, adversely affecting mood and cognitive function.
Together, these processes—including those affecting mood and cognition—ensure that the body has enough energy to function well. These processes can be hampered by a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause a variety of symptoms like fatigue, depression, memory loss, and cognitive decline.
Studies and Results
The impact of vitamin B12 on mood and cognitive function has been the subject of numerous studies. These studies have a variety of designs and typically involve small to medium sized participant groups, but they all demonstrate the beneficial effects of vitamin B12 on mental and emotional health.
One study, with 60 older adults with mild cognitive impairment, was written up in the Journal of Affective Disorders. For 12 weeks, the participants were randomized to receive 500 mcg/day of Vitamin B12 supplements or a placebo. According to the study, those who took vitamin B12 supplements had significantly better moods than those who received a placebo. The study's findings suggest that providing older adults with mild cognitive impairment with vitamin B12 supplements may be a useful strategy for enhancing mood.
Another investigation, which was reported in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, looked at the impact of vitamin B12 supplementation on cognitive function in older adults with low vitamin levels. 131 adults with a diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency between the ages of 70 and 74 were enrolled in the study. For six months, participants received 1000mcg of vitamin B12 daily. The findings demonstrated a significant improvement in cognitive function, particularly in working memory, attention, and processing speed, in those who took vitamin B12 supplements.
Another study, which involved elderly participants with vitamin B12 deficiency and depression and was published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, discovered that taking vitamin B12 supplements along with antidepressants significantly improved depression scores and cognitive function compared to taking the drugs alone.
Overall, these studies show that people with vitamin B12 deficiencies can benefit from taking supplements to boost their mood and cognitive abilities. In most of these studies, daily doses of 500 to 1000 mcg were taken for between six weeks and six months. However, it's crucial to remember that it's always preferable to speak with a doctor before taking supplements in order to receive personalized advice and rule out any other potential underlying medical conditions.
A daily dose of 500mcg to 1000mcg of vitamin B12 is advised to support cognitive function and elevate mood, according to the available research. The best way to get vitamin B12 is through diet, but since it is mostly found in animal products, it can be challenging to get the recommended dosage through diet alone. As an alternative, Vitamin B12 Patches can be useful.
Maintaining mental clarity and controlling mood are both dependent on vitamin B12. While eating a balanced diet is the best way to get enough vitamin B12, those who are deficient may find that taking supplements helps their mood and recall. Ask your doctor if a supplement might be appropriate for you if you're displaying signs of a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
- "Vitamin B12 and cognitive function" from Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
- "The effects of Vitamin B12 deficiency on mood and cognitive function" from the Journal of Affective Disorders.
- Vitamin B12 fact sheet for health professionals from Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health
- Vitamin B12. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.