10 Reasons You Need Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is the most popular vitamin among all the essential B vitamins. Unfortunately, a lot of people suffer from its deficiency because it is obtained only from sources of animal origin (meat, eggs, fish). All plant foods lack vitamin B12, unless they are fortified with it. Especially, if you’re a vegetarian you should not ignore the possibility of suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency since B12 plays a crucial role in several processes of the body – right from producing the red blood cells (RBCs) to stimulating the immune system and maintaining psychological health. Here are top 10 health benefits of vitamin B12 you should know about. 1. Fights fatigue: Since vitamin B12 is required for the production of red blood cells (RBCs), its deficiency is linked to overall weakness and fatigue. Several studies suggest that vitamin B12 supplementation can be used as potential treatment to combat fatigue and tiredness.   2. Reduces the risk of pernicious anemia: Vitamin B12 deficiency is not directly linked to anemia. Pernicious anemia is a condition where vitamin B12 is not absorbed by the body properly, resulting in overall ill-effects of deficiency. However, with vitamin B12 supplements and shots, there’s a good chance that your body can be protected against pernicious anemia.   3. Helps lower the risk of heart disease: Sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 are required to lower the levels of a compound called homocysteine that is linked to heart attack and stroke risk. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that increasing dietary intake or supplementation of vitamin B12 along with omega-3 fatty acids could significantly reduce the chances of blood clot formation (resulting in stroke) and heart disease, especially in vegetarians.   4. Improves mental health: The role of vitamin B12 in mental and cognitive improvement has been studied extensively and it was found that, high levels of homocysteine (the compound regulated by vitamin B12) are not only linked to heart disease but also to cognitive impairment or gradual decline in brain function. Studies have suggested that B12 supplementation can play an important role in improving symptoms that indicate delirium.   5. Prevents memory loss in elderly: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that daily intake of vitamin B12 supplements was associated with improvement in mental health scores and completion of memory tasks in the elderly population (60-74 years) after a period of 2 years.   6. Reduces the incidence of birth defects: Vitamin B12 is extremely important for synthesizing DNA of your cells. Hence with low levels of vitamin B12, DNA defects may result. The importance of vitamin B12 in the body becomes clearly evident when defects in DNA are expressed as birth defects. Studies have linked vitamin B12 deficiency with neural tube defects (NTD) and higher risk of Down’s syndrome in children.   7. May protect against cancer: Keeping in mind the role of vitamin B12 in DNA synthesis and repair, several researchers explored the association between B12 and cancer. One of them was a study by Slattery and colleagues which reported that high intake of vitamin B12 along with folate and vitamin B6 reduced the risk of colon cancer by 30% to 40% in participants having genes that can increase the risk of cancer in them.   8. Boosts hepatitis C treatment: Vitamin B12 is known for its role in boosting immune-function. This function was clearly indicated by a study published in the journal Gut, which assessed role of vitamin B12 supplements in patients with hepatitis C infection. Out of 94 patients with HCV infection, the ones who received vitamin B12 supplements along with the standard treatment for hepatitis C showed an increased response rate against the virus after completion of the treatment. Overall, the viral response was reported to strengthen by 34 percent.   9. May protect against Alzheimer’s disease: Although there are only a few studies analysing the role of vitamin B12 in Alzheimer’s disease, there is evidence that increased vitamin B12 levels could prevent Alzheimer’s by reducing the levels of homocysteine in the body. A study highlighted that with every picomolar increase in the level of active vitamin B12 reduced the risk Alzheimer’s by two percent.   10. Might help to reduce depression: A study by Coppen A and Bolander-Gouaille C showed that along with folic acid, low levels of vitamin B12 are also linked to mood disorders and clinical depression. Further, it has also been found that low levels of B12 interfere with the proper response to treatment with antidepressants. The study suggested that supplementation of vitamin B12 may help to improve outcomes in people with mood disorders.   Article Orignally Published At: http://health.india.com/fitness/health-benefits-of-vitamin-b12/

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