Vitamin B12 is often referred to as the “energy vitamin.” It must be a very short supply if you’ve noticed how many people have the same complaints: “I’m so tired” and “I have no energy.” The fact is B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world. And that’s not good. Because of its wide-reaching roles in the body, a B12 deficiency can show up in many different negative symptoms which are very noticeable, primarily: chronic fatigue, depression, chronic stress and that run-down feeling.
Here are other symptoms of B12 deficiency:
- Muscle aches and weakness; joint pain
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling dizzy
- Poor memory; inability to concentrate
- Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
- Digestion problems such as nausea, diarrhea or cramping
- Poor appetite
More seriously, deficiency can lead to pernicious anemia which may cause memory loss, confusion and even long-term dementia.
How to detect a Vitamin B12 deficiency
Because its most noticeable symptoms of feeling tired and unfocused can result from a host of other micronutrient deficiencies, detecting a B12 deficiency can be tricky. Routine serum blood tests ordered by primary care physicians fail to detect a B12 deficiency 50% of the time. If such a test shows your B12 levels are normal – but you still suspect you have a deficiency – your next step would be to take our Micronutrient Test.This test will give you far more definitive results and you can begin to take steps to reestablish good levels of B12.
Top 6 Vitamin B12 Benefits
- Maintains energy levels. B12 is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose, providing energy for the body. It is also needed for neurotransmitter signaling that helps your muscle contract, another source of energy.
- Boosts the mood. One of B12’s important jobs is to help regulate the nervous system, helping suppress depression and anxiety. Since the body requires B12 to make the protective coating surrounding the nerves, inadequate B12 can expose nerves to damage.
- Prevents memory loss. It’s role in nerve health and neurotransmitter functioning benefits cognitive function. It lowers the risk of such neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
- Aids in digestion. B12 helps foster healthy bacteria in the gut and helps eliminate harmful bacteria, a dual role that prevents digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.
- Maintains heart health. B12 helps reduce elevated homocysteine levels, now considered a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Keeps skin and hair healthy. B12 plays a major role in cell reproduction, turning over fresh skin cells to reduce redness, dryness and inflammation. In a similar fashion, it reduces hair breakage and makes nails stronger
Who at risk for a B12 deficiency?
Older adults tend to have impaired digestion, producing less stomach acid that is needed to convert B12 properly.
Vegans are also at risk. Since B12 cannot be made by the body, it must come from food (and/or supplementation). Top 10 food sources of Vitamin B12. Vegans avoid eating animal foods which are some of the best sources of Vitamin B12. In their absence, vegans and vegetarians often opt to eat trending superfoods such as blue-green algae, which, unfortunately contains B12 that is poorly absorbed through the digestive system.
Smokers are at risk because nicotine can block B12 absorption
Alcoholics, people with anemia or digestion disorders like Crohn’s or celiac disease are also at risk.
It doesn’t take much B12 to feel more energetic
Compared to other vitamins, we don’t need a very large amount of vitamin B12 (just 2.4 micrograms for adults) — but we do need to replenish our supply just about every single day. B vitamins are water-soluble and flushed out of the body somewhat easily.
B12 injections at LivingYoung Center make it easy to replenish B12 levels. Bypassing the digestive system, they go right to work where tB12 is needed most. It’s like getting a super blast of energy!