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While vitamin B12 is essential for good health, a surprisingly large number of people are often found to be deficient. Despitecobalamin (the scientific term for B12) being found in many foods, the richest sources are meat, dairy, whole grains and certain green vegetables. Those who follow restrictive diets – especially vegetarians and vegans – are at particular risk of not ingesting enough. Despite many specialist vegetarian/vegan foods being fortified with additional B12, it still may not be enough, which is why many choose to take additional dietary supplements. In this article, we’ll take a look at the many scientifically proven vitamin B12 benefits to highlight how important cobalamin is for maintaining good health.
1) Essential For Red Blood Cell Production
Ever wondered what makes for a healthy red blood cell? The healthiest are small and round, allowing for a higher concentration of over cells which are more mobile and adaptable. A tell-tale sign of B12 deficiency is when placed under a microscope, the cells are larger and adopt an oblong shape. This irregularity can lead to serious anemia as the cells are far slower to integrate into the bloodstream from the bone marrow. Physically speaking, this can cause persistent fatigue issues and over the long term degrade essential organs.
2) Lowers The LikelihoodOf Strokes
Strokes are caused by blood clots cutting off the supply of blood to the brain. It stands to reason that maintaining a healthy bloodstream – which as we’ve seen is one of the key vitamin B12 benefits – helps to reduce the chance of this occurring. Studies are frequently carried out worldwide concerning how large a difference taking B12 supplements may lower the risk. As a rough estimate, the scientific consensus seems to be that those who take additional vitamin B12 lower their risk by between 7-10%. This essential mineral plays a key role in helping regulate levels of the homocysteine hormone, which in excessive quantities leads to damaged and degraded arteries.
3) Great For Maintaining Healthy Bones
Many people still believe that calcium is the key to ensuring bones remain strong and healthy, but that is only half of the story. B12 is crucial in assisting the bones to maintain a healthy absorption of minerals. Without these minerals, the bones will become weak and quite likely result in osteoporosis. The majority of people who develop such bone problems, especially among women and in ‘early-onset’ cases, will be found to have an underlying vitamin B12 deficiency.
4) May Help Reduce Risk Of Cancer
Studies are ongoing here, but there are promising signs that this vitamin can help lower the risk of contracting some cancers. So far, the evidence points to B12 working especially well with a high concentration of off folate for strengthening the immune system. Not only does this help stave off viruses, but just as importantly it supports the internal ‘background’ health process within the body. Over the years, the healthy immune system may be crucial in helping reduce the risk of some cancers developing.
5) Can Help Maintain A Healthy Brain
Another interesting field of research that while not yet conclusive is looking highly promising is that some key B12 benefits could be directly related to brain health. Working alongside the fatty acid omega-3, early research suggests that brain degradation/atrophy may be considerably reduced by taking additional supplements. In practical terms, this means that the risk of brain disorders such as dementia, forgetfulness and possibly even Alzheimer’s may be seriously reduced by taking additional vitamin B12.
6) A Positive Influence On Mood & Mental Wellbeing
B12 is directly linked to the body’s production of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. Too little of this hormone has long been associated with depressive thoughts. Many anti-depressant pharmaceuticals focus upon trying to encourage the production of more serotonin, so why not try and do so naturally by taking B12 instead? Many therapists are now minded to recommend supplements before even considering medication, or at least using the two together alongside other treatments. Putting a statistic to the significance of this is awkward but in psychiatric circles, it is believed that there is in most cases a direct connection between deficiency and depression.
7) Great For Healthy Nails, Hair & Skin
One of the most straightforward ways to become aware of a deficiency is to check any or all three of these body features. Brittle nails, dry hair, and easily damaged skin are all big warning signs that the body needs more B12. This is because the body’s immune system is too busy ‘firefighting’ other risks and simply too far stretched to look out for the wellbeing of secondary functions. Obviously, there are many other reasons for what may be causing problems with nails, hair, or skin but is all three are struggling chances are that there’s a deficiency at hand.
8) Assists During Pregnancy
It is never too early to start maintaining a healthy level of vitamin B12, so why not begin while the baby is in the womb? Providing the mother has good folate levels, the boot to the immune system helps the child grow physically and may even assist with brain development. As a secondary note, expectant mothers will often find that a supplement can help maintain a steady and reliable energy level even when heavily pregnant.
As we’ve seen throughout this article, there are many vitamin B12 benefits that can make a huge difference in both short and long-term health and wellbeing. At present, it is believed that a far greater proportion of the population is in some way deficient – certainly more than the 10-15% estimates based on out of date methodology and survey samples. Just taking a simple daily supplement ought to be factored into the routine of anyone who consumes a restrictive diet.