4 Important Effects of Vitamin B12 on Your Brain and Body

4 Important Effects of Vitamin B12 on Your Brain and Body

  • Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the formation of red blood cells and DNA.
  • Without enough B12, a person may have trouble walking, experience memory loss, or TKTK
  • The body does not make vitamin B12 and it is only naturally present in animal products.

The 8 “B” vitamins help the body convert food into energy, and all play an essential role in maintaining healthy hair, nails, eyes, liver and nervous system, according to Mount Sinai.

Vitamin B12 is a particularly important nutrient as it helps in the formation of red blood cells and DNA. Although vitamin B12 deficiencies are rare in the United States, vegetarians and vegans are more susceptible to the disease, Dr. Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, previously told Insider.

Villamor said the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency vary depending on how long a person has been without the nutrient.

Mild vitamin B12 deficiencies lead to fatigue, which can sometimes be debilitating; Doctors recently diagnosed a woman in the UK who suffered from extreme fatigue and difficulty walking for years with “dangerously low” vitamin B12 levels.

If anyone is concerned about a vitamin deficiency, dietitians and doctors told Insider they recommend talking to their healthcare provider before they start using supplements themselves.

Here are 4 essential roles vitamin B12 plays in the body:

1. Vitamin B12 is essential for the creation of red blood cells

Vitamin B12 plays a particularly important role in the creation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.

Vitamin B12 contributes to the complex process of making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. B12 activates the chemical “succinyl CoA” which the body eventually turns into hemoglobin.

Without B12, the body cannot make enough hemoglobin to produce fully functioning red blood cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Lack of healthy red blood cells due to vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, which causes pain, difficulty walking, memory loss, mood changes and vision problems.

2. The nutrient plays an important role in DNA formation

Vitamin B12 helps catalyze the biological processes that create DNA and RNA, according to the National Institutes of Health.

According to the NIH, people who are deficient in B12 synthesize DNA slowly. Because DNA is the building block of all cells, people who lack vitamin B12 can develop megaloblastic anemia, when the body produces abnormal large red blood cells.

The National Organization for Rare Diseases states that people with megaloblastic anemia may develop neurological symptoms, including:

  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Balance issues
  • Vision loss
  • Confusion
  • The Depression
  • panic attacks

3. B12 Maintains Nerve Health and Safety

According to the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, vitamins B12, B1, and B6 are known as “neurotropic” B vitamins because they play a role in maintaining a healthy central and peripheral nervous system.

Vitamin B12 helps form myelin, which is a protective sheath wrapped around nerves. Myelin sheaths allow nerves to send electrical impulses to other nerves quickly and efficiently, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The nutrient also plays an important role in creating new nerves and repairing nerves after injury, the CNS said. A deficiency in B12 can create a “huge health problem”, manifesting as damage to the brain’s spinal cord, damage to nerves outside the brain and impaired cognitive function.

4. Too little vitamin B12 could weaken bones

Low levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to osteoporosis or weakening of bones. A 2015 review found that a lack of vitamin B12 could prompt the body to make “osteoclasts,” or cells that break down bone.

However, too much B12 could also harm your bones. A study of 75,000 postmenopausal women found that those who took supplements that far exceeded the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 had an increased risk of hip fracture.

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