A high population of Americans is deficient of vitamin B12. In fact, a recent study pointed out that 40% of Americans are deficient of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps maintain the health of your brain, nerves, and helps in the renewal of red blood cells. Since it is water soluble, it must be replenished daily as it gets washed out of the body.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause nerve damage when it happens in the long term and may even lead to paralysis. A mild deficiency of the nutrient may even cause impairment of mental function and may cause you to have low energy levels. It is also necessary for the formation of red blood cells and affects the distribution of oxygen to the different parts of the body. The benefits of this nutrient may include a decreased risk of depression, decreased sugar cravings, lower cholesterol levels and lower level of blood pressure, boosts energy, protects against cancer and helps reduce the risk of neurological and brain degradation. According to a study in Harvard, symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency may include constipation, depression, low sperm count, low libido, loss of sex drive, weakness, asthma, and chronic fatigue.
Why We Need to Eat Food Rich in Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 plays an extremely vital role in how the body metabolizes the food you eat in order to create energy. It helps keep cells fed and healthy. Without it the cells get weak and, in a way, hungry. It can cause you to be tired and less energized. Vitamin B12 releases energy into the cells that provide you with the ability to focus and get on with your day. Both the heart and the entire cardiovascular system need Vitamin B12. It also helps remove homocysteine, a type of protein from the blood. If homocysteine is plenty in the blood, it can damage arteries and cause inflammation. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent osteoporosis. Research shows that patients suffering osteoporosis have low levels of vitamin B12 and have relatively higher levels of homocysteine.
Vitamin B12 also helps keep the body protected from free radicals in the blood. These free radicals in the body increase as you age and cause cell damage. Nerves have protective shields called myelin sheaths. Without it, the nerves get damaged and may even die. Additionally, these dead nerves can disrupt the signals to and from the brain causing delay in motor movement. Vitamin B12 is vital in replenishing the myelin sheaths for the nerves and the cardiovascular system to be protected. Vitamin B12 is also vital not only in protecting the cardiovascular system but also in regulating the mood as it also helps regulate the body’s level of serotonin. It is a chemical that helps regulate mood. Without Vitamin B12, your body has erratic release or unregulated levels of serotonin causing you to feel down and even depressed.
A study of people suffering diabetes stated that the negative side effects of the drugs taken to remedy diabetes were often less to those who took vitamin B12 and these patients often had a better and a saner mental state. In relation to vitamin B12’s role in protecting brain health, research also noted that Alzheimer’s patients have lower levels of vitamin B12 compared to those who have sharper and clearer memory. In a similar way that B12 protected the nerves by replenishing the myelin sheaths, it also works the same way in the brain. Brain cells also need protection, which is through these myelin sheaths. B12’s role in replenishing it helps protect the brain. Certain research even suggests that deficiency of Vitamin B12 can even be a cause of dementia among the elderly that may be irreversible even with dietary intervention.
Eating Vitamin B12 Promotes Longevity and Youth
Aging is a natural part of life. We all grow old, whether you face it or not, like it or not. The brain and all the cells in the body eventually tear down. Vitamin B12 is not an antidote to the crumbling of life. It is however one of the ways to delay the natural pull of aging. When we age, the DNA does not replicate correctly. And this is affected by several factors that are in fact also affected by the wear and tear of all the other parts of the body – toxins, free radicals, high bloods sugars, fats in the body, these are all factors that affect aging, add up to the fact that a healthy diet is not the easiest and most decadent thing to do in this world of fast food and junk food. Vitamin B12 helps support DNA health and replication, resulting to younger cells. So despite the natural pull of our bodies to make us look old, vitamin B12 helps pull it back to the direction of health to delay the occurrence of aging. This doesn’t only occur in the internal aspect but this also translates to outward factor of how our bodies start to look and feel young. So let us asses the food sources as well as the risks for vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vegans and Vegetarians Risk for Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vegans and vegetarians are at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency as Vitamin B12 is predominantly found in animal food products. People also suffering leaky gut as well as digestive malabsorption may also be at risk of having a deficiency. Another reason why a person may be deficient of Vitamin B12 can be due to prescription medication such as diabetes medication, antibiotics, acid reflux drugs, and those who have had weight loss surgery.
The Highest Food Sources of Vitamin B12
The top food sources of vitamin B12 include beef liver, sardines, grass-fed beef, tuna, raw cheese, cottage cheese, lamb, raw milk, eggs, and salmon. It is imperative to take Vitamin B12 supplements when you do not regularly take these foods as is the case of vegetarians. There is no high source vitamin b12 food for vegans. Fortified yeast extract can be a source of vitamin B12.
However, it only comprises 1% of the daily value so in it is recommended for vegans to supplement vitamin B12 through supplements or transdermal patches. One thing that should be remembered is that the health of your digestive tract is vital when talking about the levels of vitamin B12. Taking probiotic rich foods and probiotics may increase vitamin B12 as there is a possibility for the gut to be able to produce vitamin B12 on its own. However, that is dependent on your health as well.
Naturemade.com. (2016). A Guide to the B Vitamins. [online] Available at: http://www.naturemade.com/resource-center/articles-and-videos/energy/get-buzzing-with-bs#C2r1H1Bk4YUM52Yp.99 [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].
McDermott, N. and McDermott, N. (2016). The Benefits of Vitamin B Complex – Life by Daily Burn. [online] Life by Daily Burn. Available at: http://dailyburn.com/life/health/benefits-vitamin-b-complex/ [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].
Naturemade.com. (2016). A Guide to the B Vitamins. [online] Available at: http://www.naturemade.com/resource-center/articles-and-videos/energy/get-buzzing-with-bs [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].
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