The Link Between Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Brain Health

The Link Between Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Brain Health

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for brain health. 40% of adults unknowingly have low Vitamin B12 levels. If you feel that you cannot focus well or if you suffer fatigue, memory loss, chances are you may have low levels of Vitamin B12.

Let us first delve into the benefits of Vitamin B12 so we can justify how important it is for our brain health. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be stored in the body. The body flushed out water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C, often every day. That is essentially why you need to replenish the lost amounts daily. The body needs Vitamin B12 for healthy nerve cells, red blood cell formation, energy, and DNA synthesis, to mention a few of the many functions it has. Food contains Vitamin B12 but it still remains to be the most common nutrient deficiencies affecting almost half the population of adults.

However, despite the rampant deficiency of this nutrient, only a few people know that they have it and doctors rarely dig deeper whether their patients have it. The deficiency of Vitamin B12 can sometimes have a role in Alzheimer’s. When left untreated, the deficiency of this B-Vitamin may residually cause brain damage and other neurological problems.

The Effects of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Some people take Vitamin B12 lightly, but the deficiency of this nutrient can manifest in the body as pernicious anemia, weakness, loss of appetite, numbness, shortness of breath, tingling in the arms and legs, difficulty maintaining balance, and shortness of breath. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also affect your brain and your mind, manifesting as brain fog, memory loss, depression, anxiety, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes may even be the cause of hallucinations or schizophrenia. Long-term or chronic deficiency of this nutrient may cause brain atrophy, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Several studies have investigated the impact of Vitamin B12 on the brain. It has been scientifically established that fats such as animal-based omega-3 fatty acids are vital brain nutrients. However, Vitamins such as B12 are also necessary for overall brain function. Researchers have found that most people and seniors suffering from mild cognitive impairment are deficient of this brain nutrient. Thus, most recommended Vitamin B12 together with folate for cases such as these in order to prevent serious dementia. In fact, mental fogginess and memory loss are symptoms that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, thus, highlighting its importance for brain health.

Researchers have also found the impact of vitamin supplementation through oral supplementation, transdermal patch, and even injections to prevent and/or treat memory loss and cognitive dysfunction and decline.

Elevated homocysteine is linked to brain degeneration. In relation to this mechanism, B vitamins, specifically, vitamin B12 can suppress homocysteine levels. Related research found that those who receive vitamin B12 suffered less brain shrinkage compared to those receiving placebo.

Vitamin B12 Slows Down Brain Shrinkage and Alzheimer’s Disease

Another research shows that not only does Vitamin B12 slow brain shrinkage, but it specifically slows down the shrinkage in the regions of the brain that is known to severely impact by Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B12 slows down shrinkage by up to 7 times. People who take doses of Vitamin B6 and B12 and folic acid have experienced lowered levels of homocysteine and brain shrinkage decreased by as much as 90 percent. 

Vitamin B12 Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s in Later Years

Another related research in Finland found that people who consume foods rich in vitamin B12 may have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s can be reduced by as much as  2 percent. This makes a strong case for promoting the awareness of the brain nutrient and raising awareness of what it can do to your brain health especially in your later years.

Vitamin B12 is present in food sources such as meat poultry, eggs, dairy products, leafy greens, beans, peas, and fish. However, if you eat an all-vegan diet, you have an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, hence the need to supplement.

The Vitamin B12 molecule is also considerably big. In fact, it is the largest vitamin molecule known and due to its hefty size it is not easily absorbed. That is why there must be a regular intake of this brain nutrient in order to make sure that you have the necessary amounts needed daily.

Slowing Down Cognitive Decline

As much as we try to avoid it, cognitive decline is a normal part of life. Our bodies deteriorate the older we get and more often than not it is due to poor lifestyle choices. That said, poor lifestyle choices very much include the diet that is unbalanced. Too much sugars, no veggies, unhealthy trans-fat and several toxins due to pesticides and artificial additives. Add up the fact that junk food tastes oh-so-good, doesn’t it?

Add up the pizza and French fries and basically almost everything that we eat. If we have to assess the health value of everything that we eat, we would be guilty. Adding some balance to your diet every once in a while if not always is a good way to start being on your way to health. Cognitive decline happens, yes, but it can be slowed down by taking care of yourself through the nutrients that can help your brain improve itself. Taking Vitamin B12 can be a good start together with exercise and an improved and a more nutritious diet.

References:

Mercola.com. (2016). Vitamin B – Valuable for Your Brain Health. [online] Available at: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/03/17/vitamin-b-brain-health.aspx [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].

B12, V. (2016). Vitamin B12: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002403.htm [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].

B12, V. (2016). Vitamin B12: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002403.htm [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].

Fit, B., Blog, Search, About, Blog, Search, About, and Alban, D. (2016). Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Brain Disorders. [online] Be Brain Fit. Available at: http://bebrainfit.com/vitamin-b12-deficiency-brain/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2016].

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