Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient for the proper functioning of many bodily processes, including the immune system. Without enough Vitamin B12, our bodies may experience immune-related symptoms such as increased susceptibility to infections, fatigue, and inflammation.
When the body lacks Vitamin B12, it can impair the production of white blood cells, which play an important role in the immune system. Without sufficient white blood cells, the body may be unable to defend itself against harmful pathogens, increasing the risk of infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and meningitis.
Furthermore, a lack of Vitamin B12 can cause fatigue, which can impair the body's ability to fight infections. Fatigue can also increase inflammation in the body, leading to chronic conditions like arthritis and autoimmune disorders.
Neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and difficulty with coordination and balance are also signs of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. These symptoms occur because Vitamin B12 is required for proper nervous system function.
A lack of Vitamin B12 during pregnancy can lead to complications such as preterm birth and low birth weight. It can also cause developmental problems in infants, such as slow growth and cognitive delays.
Vitamin B12 was discovered by researchers studying pernicious anemia in the nineteenth century. It was discovered to play an important role in the body's immune system after being identified as a key nutrient in disease prevention. Vitamin B12 has since been used to treat a variety of health issues, including fatigue, depression, and neurological disorders.
How it works
Vitamin B12 is required for the immune system to function properly. It is essential for the production of white blood cells, which are in charge of fighting infections and diseases. It also aids in the regulation of the immune system's response, preventing it from attacking healthy cells and tissues.
Vitamin B12 is required for the formation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen to the tissues of the body. The body's tissues and organs may not receive enough oxygen if there aren't enough red blood cells, resulting in fatigue and other symptoms.
Vitamin B12 is also required for the production of DNA, the genetic material in cells. Without enough Vitamin B12, cells may be unable to divide and grow properly, resulting in a variety of health problems.
Furthermore, Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid that, in high concentrations, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Vitamin B12 assists in the conversion of homocysteine into other compounds, lowering the risk of these conditions.
When it comes to the immune system, Vitamin B12 aids in the production of white blood cells such as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which attack and destroy invading pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Furthermore, Vitamin B12 regulates the immune system's response, preventing it from overreacting and attacking healthy cells and tissues, which can result in autoimmune disorders.
Vitamin B12 is also involved in the production of cytokines, which are proteins that function as immune system messengers. Cytokines aid in the coordination of the immune response in the body, signaling white blood cells to attack and destroy invading pathogens.
Studies and Results
Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of Vitamin B12 on the immune system. For eight weeks, 120 healthy participants received either a daily dose of 500 mcg Vitamin B12 or a placebo in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. When compared to the placebo group, those who received Vitamin B12 had a significant increase in the number of white blood cells. The study concluded that vitamin B12 supplementation can improve immune system function by increasing white blood cell production.
Another study looked at how Vitamin B12 supplementation affected the duration and severity of colds and flu. During the winter months, 27 participants in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study received either a daily dose of 1,000 mcg Vitamin B12 or a placebo. When compared to the placebo group, those who received Vitamin B12 had shorter duration and less severe symptoms of colds and flu. According to the findings of the study, vitamin B12 supplementation can reduce the severity and duration of respiratory infections.
Vitamin B12 supplementation improved immune function in 211 elderly subjects with Vitamin B12 deficiency by increasing the production of white blood cells and improving the immune response. Another study of 100 elderly people found that supplementing with Vitamin B12 improved the immune response to the pneumococcal vaccine, which helps protect against pneumonia.
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 varies depending on your age and gender. However, most adults require around 2.4 micrograms per day. If you are deficient in Vitamin B12 or have a medical condition that affects absorption, your healthcare provider may recommend higher doses.
Lastly, Vitamin B12 is a potent nutrient that is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. You can improve your body's ability to defend against infections and diseases by including vitamin B12-rich foods in your diet or taking supplements. However, before beginning any new supplements, always consult your healthcare provider.
Calder PC, Carr AC, Gombart AF, Eggersdorfer M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients. 2020 Apr;12(4):1181.
Hemilä H. Vitamin C and Infections. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 29;9(4):339.
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Accessed February 2023.