The Benefits Of Vitamin B12 + Dosage Recommendations

The Benefits Of Vitamin B12 + Dosage Recommendations

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The United States is one of the most privileged countries in the world, yet it’s one where nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition run rampant. Americans have access to premium foods, information, and healthcare, yet many are running on tanks that are half-empty, lacking in the vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary for sustaining life.

Sadly, many diseases and chronic conditions that people suffer from can all be traced back to inadequate nutrition. Everything from chronic pain and fatigue to heart disease, anxiety, and depression have their oppressive roots in poor nutrition. Finding out where vitamin and mineral deficiencies lie and working to correct them by eating healthful, nourishing foods is a crucial element in regaining health and vitality once more…

Photo: Flickr.com/Robert Couse-Baker

B12: Nature’s Little Powerhouse

If you’ve ever experienced lethargy, sluggishness, fuzzy thinking, digestion issues, or chronic pain, you may be deficient in vitamin B12. With a reputation as “nature’s little powerhouse,” vitamin B12 provides much of the daily energy that helps with several functions of the body and mind, including:

  • Boosting memory and mood
  • Improving energy levels
  • Regulating digestion
  • Strengthening heart function
  • Stimulating hormone production
  • Creating an environment of homeostasis throughout the body

The responsibility of vitamin B12 to regulate most of the body’s metabolic functions and provide critical energy makes it one of the most important vitamins for cell health.

Photo: Flickr.com/Lorie Shaull

B12: Foundational Wellness For Body And Mind

Vitamin B12’s most basic function in the body is converting the food-based amino acid homocysteine into methionine, a compound used for various metabolic processes. Recent scientific studies cite the methionine cycle as one of the critical elements needed for optimal health and wellness. When this cycle is disturbed or broken, a wide-open pathway for disease and chronic conditions begins to develop. Vitamin B12 is absolutely essential for cellular repair and renewal that leads to vibrant health.

Photo: Flickr.com/Vic

How B12 Improves And Safeguards Your Health

Vitamin B12, especially in the Methylcobalamin form, has other essential benefits that promote total mind-body wellness; this impressive list alone should have you running to the pharmacy and grocery store as you seek to improve the way you look and feel.

  • It assists with red blood cell formation. Inadequate levels of B12 in the body inhibit the production of new red blood cells; the existing cells in your body take on an irregular oval shape that makes blood flow slower and less efficient. Conditions like anemia can quickly develop, and symptoms appear, such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Ingesting adequate levels of B12 through diet and supplementation ensures that blood cells develop appropriately, increasing blood flow, and improving cellular oxygenation throughout the body.
  • It helps to prevent congenital disabilities. Expecting mothers, listen up – adequate levels of B12 are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Recent studies indicate that B12 assists in the fetal development of both the brain and the nervous system. Deficiencies could potentially increase the risk of neurological disabilities, and may also contribute to premature birth and even miscarriage.
  • It supports bone health. Vitamin B12 is known to strengthen bone density and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis from developing. It’s especially important to maintain healthy levels of this vitamin later in life, as there is a tendency for bone structures to weaken and become brittle.
  • It reduces the risk of macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration can be reduced or even eliminated with adequate levels of B12. Higher than normal homocysteine levels have been associated with degenerative eye conditions; increasing your intake of B12 will help to improve and protect the health of your eyes.
  • It helps to improve mental clarity and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. While the effect of methylcobalamin is not yet fully understood with regard to mental health, scientists have discovered a link between vitamin B12 ingestion and regulation of serotonin, a “feel-good” chemical that the body naturally produces. People reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety have had significant boosts in energy and mood as a result of incorporating B12 therapy into a care plan. B12 treatment has also been linked to better treatment outcomes, and a reduced risk of depression and anxiety relapse.
  • It significantly improves energy levels. B12 is known in the medical community as the go-to vitamin for increased energy. While all vitamins in the B family are known to have an impact on energy levels, methylcobalamin is known to have the most dramatic effect on improving energy and stamina, improving all aspects of metabolic function and leaving reserves to be used for enjoying life.
Photo: WikiMedia Commons/Smastronardo

What Can Be Done To Increase Daily B12 Intake?

Because vitamin B12 deficiencies are so common, it’s usually recommended that a supplement be taken to increase vitamin levels. Most B12 supplements on the market today, however, are a synthetic form of the vitamin known as cyanocobalamin, which is not readily assimilated by the body for use in metabolic function.

Methyl groups that are already present in the natural compound methylcobalamin are not available in the synthetic form of B12, and they must be converted into useable energy which, ironically, takes a large amount of energy. This conversion process brings about the exact opposite effect from the vitamin’s intended effect of added energy and stamina. There are also several metabolic processes facilitated by B12 that cyanocobalamin cannot perform, such as:

  • Stimulation of serotonin
  • Protecting the brain from oxidative damage
  • Neutralization of homocysteine
  • Production of antioxidant precursors to create mitochondrial energy in all cells
  • Detoxification

It seems that a little natural B12 is in order, provided that dietary changes can be implemented. Vegans and vegetarians, beware – there are very few plant-based foods that contain daily requirements of B12; being vigilant about supplementation will work in your favor if you choose not to consume animal products.

Animal products and animal flesh are the richest sources of natural methylcobalamin available to us; among these is a surprising contender that is fast rising in popularity among health food “junkies.” Crickets – and products made from cricket flour – are some of the best sources of high quality, bioavailable B12 on the market today, and they can be found in products ranging from meal and flour to protein drinks, cookies, and even candy.

If you’re not yet ready to get out and start digging in your garden for the next tasty B12-laden snack, not to worry – several other delicious offerings can afford you adequate levels of B12. Dairy products, chicken, eggs, liver, fish, beef, and lamb are just a few of the delicious foods that can be incorporated into your diet for energy-boosting results.

Photo: Flickr.com/icethim

Daily Recommended Doses For B12

The National Institute of Health recommends that children take between 1.2 and 1.8 mcg of methylcobalamin daily, while adults need between 2.4 and 2.8 mcg for optimal health. Talking to your doctor or healthcare team about your nutritional habits and supplementation will help you take action to improve energy levels, metabolic processes, and overall health.