If you find yourself tired all the time, beyond what’s normal for you, then you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. It’s difficult to take in all the vitamins your body needs without supplementation. This is especially true for Vitamin B12 if you don’t eat enough meat, fish or poultry.
Vitamin B 12 is more than the gas that keeps your energy level topped off. It’s an important part of fighting disease and in living a longer, healthier life.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that helps in keeping your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy. It also enables the making of DNA. B12 binds with protein from the food you eat, and is separated from that protein as you digest food. If you take B12 in a supplement or in fortified foods, it is in free form already and doesn’t require the body to separate it.
If you take oral B12, about 56% is absorbed and used by your body, but if you take more than you need, it will not be absorbed. B12 has not been shown to cause problems even if taken in large doses, since the body releases unused vitamin B12 through urination.
Your body takes two steps to absorb vitamin B12 found in the foods you eat. One type of stomach acid separates it from protein and then it combines with a different protein, before it is absorbed by your body.
Who Can it Help?
According to studies at Michigan State University, people with certain diseases or other health issues can be helped by supplementation with vitamin B12. The issues below can be positively affected by the vitamin , but it should only be taken as a treatment for these problems under the care of a physician.
Bell’s Palsy – People with this disease, which manifests itself in weakness or paralysis in the muscles on just one side of the face, benefit from injections of vitamin B12.
Migraines – Migraines can be debilitating and serious. B12 taken each day reduced migraine frequency by 50% or more in a small study.
Sickle Cell Anemia – Those affected by sickle cell anemia may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Injections of B12 administered in the muscle may improve the symptoms.
Celiac Disease – This is a disorder of the autoimmune system where gluten leads to small intestine damage. Taking folic acid and vitamin B6, along with B12, has been shown to relieve depression in celiac disease patients.
Asthma – Food additives like sulfites can trigger asthma in some people. Pre-treating with a healthy dose of B12 may reduce the reaction of children to sulfites.
Tinnitus – This nerve-wracking ringing in the ears can be quite debilitating. Vitamin B12 can help in reducing tinnitus severity in those who are B12-deficient.
Low Back Pain – Under the supervision of a medical professional, taking VitaminB12, along with vitamins B6 and B1, can aid in the reduction of back pain that is linked to certain vertebral syndromes. B12 can even lower the need for taking anti-inflammatory medicines.
Neuropathy – To relieve the symptoms of neuropathy, supplementing with vitamins B12 and B6 and folate may be beneficial. Vitamin B12 is a necessary part of normal function in nerve cells.
Hives – Injections of vitamin B12 are reported to help in the reduction of severity in acute hives, as well as the severity and frequency of hives outbreaks in people who have the disorder chronically.
Stroke – The risk of stroke is linked to elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood. B12 supplements can help in lowering those levels, and thus reduce the risk of stroke.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A deficiency in B12 can cause fatigue itself, but injections have been shown to have benefits even for those with chronic fatigue symptoms not related to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Schizophrenia – Taking folic acid and vitamin B6, along with B12, lowers the levels of homocysteine in the blood, which can improve schizophrenic symptoms.
Urinary Incontinence – If a patient’s urinary incontinence is related to a deficiency in B12, supplementing the vitamin can help in correcting the issue.
Hepatitis – Adding injections of B12 to existing antiviral medicines has increased the number of patients who were able to have their Hep C cleared from their bodies.
Osteoporosis – Homocystinuria, a metabolic disorder, can lead to osteoporosis. It is brought on by high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Vitamin B12 treatments can lower those levels and thus prevent the development of osteoporosis.
Crohn’s Disease – Intestinal cells are damaged in the advance of Crohn’s disease. Vitamin B12 serves to repair these cells. Supplementing with B12 may offset at least some of the vitamin deficiency brought on by the malabsorption of Crohn’s disease.
Thalassemia – This is an inherited blood disorder that is exacerbated by vitamin B12 deficiency. Supplementation with vitamin B12 may be helpful for patients’ symptoms and prognosis.
Bursitis – The pain and swelling of acute bursitis in the shoulder can be relieved somewhat by injections of vitamin B12. It has even decreased calcification for some patients.
Vitiligo – Vitamin B12 has been shown in studies to effectively assist in the re-pigmentation of skin in those who suffer from vitiligo.
Insomnia – In some people whose insomnia is the result of a disorder in the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, vitamin B12 supplementation has improved their ability to sleep.
Down’s Syndrome – In Down’s Syndrome patients, if they are deficient in vitamin B12, they may benefit from B12 supplementation, since it helps in normalizing their metabolism.
Support for AIDS and HIV – In patients with a deficiency in B-vitamins who are HIV-positive, vitamin B12 appears to delay the disease’s progression.
Bipolar Disorder – A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to both depression and mania. Thus, treating bipolar disorder with vitamin B12 can clear or lessen symptoms.
Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis – Injections of vitamin B12 have reportedly lessened symptoms in this type of dermatitis in adults.
Canker Sores – Recurring canker sores are sometimes related to a deficiency in vitamin B12. Even if the patient is not B12 deficient, supplementing with vitamin B12 can improve the condition.
Phenylketonuria – PKU diets restrict animal foods, which leads to a deficiency of B12. Supplementing with vitamin B12 may correct those deficiencies.
Lung Cancer – Vitamin B12 and folic acid help the cells to normally replicate. Smokers in one trial who had lung changes considered to be pre-cancerous were given vitamin B12 and folic acid. There was significant condition reversal in some cases.
Pain – In people who suffer from pain related to problems with the vertebrae, massive B12 injections have helped to relieve pain.
Retinopathy – The symptoms of this eye disorder include “floaters” in the field of vision, impaired color vision, blurred vision and vision loss. Some children who suffer from diabetic retinopathy experienced relief from their symptoms after vitamin B12 supplementation.
Before & After Surgery Health – Giving surgery patients vitamins B12, B1 and B6 pre- and post-surgery has resulted in reductions in immunity after surgery.
Top Vitamin B12 Benefits
Scientists at the University of Maryland Medical Center study vitamin B12, in order that they can better understand its benefits. Here are a few examples of those benefits.
Lowers your Risk of Developing Heart Disease
Vitamin B12, along with other B-vitamins, helps to lower the levels of an amino acid that may lead to coronary artery disease if not kept in check. If heart disease concerns you, be sure your healthy diet includes B12 and speak to your primary care physician to see if you should take a B12 supplement.
Fights the Effects of Dementia
Some people are affected by dementia as they age. They often have high homocysteine levels in their blood. Vitamin B12, especially when augmented with vitamin B6 and folic acid, can lower the levels of homocysteine, which can make dementia less likely.
This type of anemia occurs when your stomach cells cannot make the protein that allows your body to absorb and utilize vitamin B12.
Some of the main symptoms may include:
- Pale skin
- Weight loss
- Moodiness, confusion and memory loss
- Loss of Balance
- Tingling or Numbness in feet or hands
High doses of vitamin B12 can be given orally or injected, and they will treat this type of anemia.
Reduces your Risk for Macular Degeneration Related to Age
This condition can lead to loss of vision for older patients. If you take vitamin B12 at 1,000 micrograms (mcg) per day, along with vitamin B6 and folic acid, this reduces your risk of the development of AMD.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency and its Symptoms
A deficiency in vitamin B12 may cause:
- Soreness in tongue or mouth
- Poor memory
This type of deficiency can also damage your nervous system, whether you have anemia or not. That’s why it’s so important to treat any deficiency promptly.
Infants display different signs if they have a B12 deficiency. They include:
- Megaloblastic anemia
- Delays in hitting milestones in development
- Movement problems
- Failure to thrive
Different Forms of Vitamin B12
You can find vitamin B12 naturally in many foods and it is also added to some foods, making them fortified. Plant foods do not include any B12 unless they have been fortified. Including these b12 foods in your diet will help you maintain your recommended vitamin B12 levels:
- Milk, eggs, poultry
- Beef liver
- Fortified cereals
Most multivitamins include B12. Supplements that only contain B12 or B12 along with other B-vitamins and folic acid can also be purchased.
Vitamin B12 can be purchased in sublingual form. They dissolve when you place it under the tongue. There has been no evidence proving that taking B12 sublingually is any more or less effective than taking pills orally.
You may also receive a shot of B12 if you need it. They are used in the treatment of vitamin 12 deficiency. A nasal gel is another type of B12 available in prescription form.
Recommended Daily Amounts of Vitamin B12
Most Americans get sufficient B12 for their body from food they ingest. However, you may have trouble in absorbing B12 that is found in food. Between 1.5% & 15% of Americans have some type of vitamin B12 deficiency. Your health care provider can test the levels of B12 in your blood, and determine whether or not you have a deficiency.
The recommended amount of B12 you should take in every day is dependent on your age and other physical factors. The average recommended daily amounts for various ages and situations comes from research done at the National Institutes of Health.
These doses are in micrograms (mcg).
- From birth to age six months, babies need 0.4 mcg per day.
- Infants between seven months and a year require 0.5 mcg daily
- Children between the ages of 1 to 3 years need 0.9 mcg per day.
- Kids from 4 to 8 years of age require 1.2 mcg daily.
- Children between the ages of 9 and 13 need 1.8 mcg per day.
- Teens between the ages of 14 & 18 years require 2.4 mcg daily.
- Adults need 2.4 mcg per day.
- Pregnant women and teens require 2.6 mcg daily.
- Breastfeeding women and teens need 2.8 mcg per day.