B12 is one of the various vitamins that benefits both your mind and your body. It is involved in everything from red blood cell production to nail growth. The recommended daily intake for adults is 2.4 micrograms, and it is found in foods like meat, eggs, dairy, and fish. It can also be consumed as a supplement, injection, or an IV. Here are 5 ways B12 boosts your overall health:
1. Helps Produce Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells bring oxygen from our lungs to tissues throughout our body, and then carry carbon dioxide from those tissues back to the lungs where it is expelled. B12 is very important in the production of red blood cells, and if red blood cell production is impaired, it may cause megaloblastic anemia.
Megaloblastic anemia, sometimes known as just anemia, is a lack of blood cells specifically caused by a lack of B12. It causes symptoms such as fatigue, trouble concentrating, clumsiness, and dry skin. Anemia may also be caused by excessive bleeding or low iron, however, a healthy level of B12 is one way to prevent it.
2. May Prevent Dementia
Vitamin B12 is also associated with slowing brain atrophy. Brain atrophy is a shrinkage in brain volume and loss of neurons, which can cause diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy, well-functioning brain and overall nervous system. While B12 is associated with slowing brain atrophy, there is no research to suggest that B12 supplements improve memory loss in those who are already suffering from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
3. May Improve Mood and Symptoms of Depression
Research suggests that there is an association between B12 deficiency and neuropsychiatric conditions, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and mood swings. However, the extent of the association between the two is still debated in the medical community. B12 is required for serotonin production, which is the chemical in the brain that controls a person’s mood. Because of this, researchers recommend that B12 be included in treatment plans for those who have depression.
4. May Help Prevent Birth Defects
It is recommended that pregnant women increase their dosage of Vitamin B12 because it may help the prevention of severe birth defects, such as partial paralysis and an underdeveloped skull. When someone who already has low levels of B12 becomes pregnant, they have a higher probability of giving birth to a child with a neural tube defect, like anencephaly, where the child’s brain and skull are severely underdeveloped.
5. Boosts Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails
A healthy level of B12 can boost healthy skin, hair, and nails by providing oxygen to those tissues. In fact, low levels of B12 can cause skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, nail discoloration, hair changes, vitiligo, and angular stomatitis. Taking a B12 supplement, injection, or IV can improve symptoms of these conditions. However, if you already have a healthy level of B12, taking a supplement will likely not improve the hair, skin, or nails.
B12 has many benefits for many different people. Pregnant women, older adults, and those with certain skin conditions may benefit from receiving B12. B12 supplementation can also improve your mood and cognitive function, in addition to boosting healthy skin, hair, and nails.
If you’d like to learn about more natural ways to improve your skin, check out our blog post, 10 Foods to Eat to Benefit Your Skin.