Why I Take B12 Every Day
There are many important processes in your body that require vitamin B12, a water-soluble nutrient. I make sure to take a vitamin B12 supplement every day so that I can stay healthy. For example, B12 helps to produce my red blood cells as well as my DNA.
Because the body doesn’t make this vitamin on its own, I have to get it from either supplements or animal-based foods. And even if you eat animal-based foods on a regular basis, you still might not be getting as much B12 as your body needs. Especially because it doesn’t stay stored in the body for very long.
Aside from DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation, vitamin B12 supports the normal function of your nerve cells and provides many other benefits as well. It can also help prevent heart disease, improve your memory, and boost your energy.
While the recommended daily intake (RDI) is 2.4 mcg for most adults, it’s much higher for women who are breastfeeding or pregnant.
So if you’re interested in learning more about B12, and why I take it every day, then keep on reading!
What Is Vitamin B12?
Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient. It’s necessary to keep your nerves and brain healthy and for making red blood cells and DNA.
It also lowers levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, when found in high levels, has been linked to osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, and dementia.
We usually get B12 through our diet. Rich sources include:
- fortified cereals
- soy milk
- almond milk
- rice milk
In order for us to digest the vitamin, we first need to shake it loose from these foods. That process is helped by stomach acid.
After B12 is freed from the food that we eat, it then binds to a protein that’s produced by cells in the linings of the stomach. The B12 then makes its way to the small intestine, where it can become absorbed into the bloodstream.
What Happens When You Have a B12 Deficiency?
There are a good number of adults over the age of 60 (around six percent) who are deficient in B12. And close to twenty percent of adults might be borderline deficient.
As we get older, we tend to produce less stomach acid. This can make it more difficult to extract B12 from our food.
Vegetarians and vegans are also at a higher risk of becoming deficient in B12. Other causes of deficiency include having an autoimmune problem that attacks the gastrointestinal tract or stomach lining.
You can also be at higher risk if you’re taking medications that suppress stomach acid or if you have undergone weight loss surgery.
Having a B12 deficiency is not fun.
Because I want to make sure I avoid the symptoms of a deficiency, I take a supplement every day. Let’s look at some of the most common symptoms so you have a better understanding of what I’m trying to avoid.
1. Jaundiced or Pale Skin
People who have a B12 deficiency will usually look pale. They also might have a slight yellow tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes. This is a condition that’s known as jaundice.
This condition occurs when there’s a lack of B12 because the body isn’t producing as many red blood cells. Without the vitamin, the instructions for building red blood cells are incomplete and the cells won’t be able to properly divide.
This can cause a kind of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia. That’s when the red blood cells made in your bone marrow are fragile and large.
These red blood cells are too big to move out of your bone marrow and into your circulation. Therefore, you won’t have as many red blood cells moving around in your body and your skin can start to look pale in color.
Because these cells are so weak, many of them will break down, which can lead to a surplus of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a slightly brown or red substance that’s made by the liver when it breaks down old blood cells.
Excessive amounts of bilirubin will give your eyes and skin a yellow tinge.
2. Sensations of Pins and Needles
Nerve damage is among the more serious side effects of a long-term deficiency in B12.
This can take place over time, since vitamin B12 is a crucial contributor to the metabolic pathway that makes myelin. Myelin is a fatty substance that surrounds the nerves as a form of insulation and protection.
Without the vitamin, myelin is made differently. Your nervous system then won’t be able to function properly.
A common symptom of this is paresthesia. That’s the sensation of pins and needs, which is kind of like a prickling sensation in your feet and hands.
Interestingly enough, the brain symptoms related to a B12 deficiency usually occur alongside anemia. However, people can still have neurological symptoms of deficiency without any signs of anemia.
With all that said, the sensation of feeling pins and needles is a common symptom with a lot of causes. So if you feel pins and needles, it can be a B12 deficiency or it can be something else.
3. Mouth Ulcers and Glossitis
The term glossitis is used to refer to a tongue that’s inflamed. If you have an inflamed tongue, then the shape and color of your tongue will change. It will become swollen, red, and painful.
Your tongue may also look smooth due to the inflammation. That’s because all of the little bumps on your tongue that contain the taste buds will disappear and then stretch out.
Not only is glossitis painful but it can also alter the way in which you speak and eat. If you have an inflamed and swollen tongue that has lesions on it, then you very well may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Also, some people who have a B12 deficiency might experience other problems in their mouths. This can include a sensitive tongue, itching or burning in the mouth, and mouth ulcers.
6. Breathlessness and Dizziness
As we already mentioned, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia. And anemia can lead to you feeling dizzy and short of breath, especially if you exert yourself. This is due to the fact that your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to get oxygen to the cells in your body.
7. Changes to Mobility
If your vitamin B12 deficiency goes untreated, then your nervous system can become seriously damaged. This can lead to changes in how you move and walk. It can even affect your coordination and balance and make you more prone to falling down.
This symptom tends to be noticed in undiagnosed deficiency of the elderly. People who are older than sixty years old are more likely to have a B12 deficiency.
Treating or preventing deficiencies in this group can help to improve mobility. This symptom can also be present in young people who have an untreated and severe deficiency.
The Benefits of Taking Vitamin B12 Every Day
Now that we’ve gone over why you don’t want to have a B12 deficiency, it’s time to go over the health benefits that come with taking vitamin B12 every day. Let’s look at those benefits below.
1. Supports Bone Health and Prevents Osteoporosis
When you maintain adequate levels of vitamin B12 in your body, you can boost your bone health. People who are deficient in vitamin B12 also have lower than average bone mineral density.
If your bones have decreased mineral density, then they can become fragile and delicate over time. And that can lead to you having an increased risk of osteoporosis.
2. Reduces Your Risk of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that mainly impairs your central vision. When you’re able to maintain proper levels of vitamin B12, you can lower your risk of getting age-related macular degeneration.
By taking vitamin B12 supplements, you can lower the amount of homocysteine in the body. When you have high levels of that amino acid, you also increase your risk of age-related macular degeneration. You can reduce that risk by supplementing with vitamin B12, along with folic acid and vitamin B6.
3. Improves Mood and Symptoms of Depression
Vitamin B12 doesn’t just make my body better, it also makes my mood better. That’s because vitamin B12 helps the body metabolize and synthesize serotonin, which is the chemical that’s in charge of regulating one’s mood.
If you don’t get enough vitamin B12, then you might experience a decreased production of serotonin, which can cause you to feel depressed. And by taking vitamin B12 with antidepressants, you can greatly improve any depressive symptoms that you might be experiencing.
Vitamin B12 deficiencies have been linked with severe depression. And high vitamin B12 levels have been linked to an increased probability of recovery from major depressive disorders and better treatment outcomes.
4. Boosts Cognitive Functioning by Preventing the Loss of Neurons
When you’re deficient in vitamin B12, you may experience memory loss. Especially if you’re an older adult.
This vitamin plays a big part in preventing brain atrophy. That’s when there is a loss of neurons in the brain and can lead to dementia or memory loss.
You can slow your mental decline by taking a combination of omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin B12 supplements.
And even if your vitamin B12 levels are just a bit below normal, you can still experience poor memory performance. Because of this, you should take B12 supplements to improve your memory, even if you don’t have a deficiency that’s been clinically diagnosed.
5. It Gives Me an Energy Boost to Start My Day
If you’re looking to boost your energy at the start of the day, then you should definitely consider taking vitamin B12 supplements. All B vitamins play an important role in producing energy in the body. However, they don’t necessarily provide energy on their own.
By taking a vitamin B12 supplement, you can boost your energy and avoid feelings of fatigue.
6. Vitamin B12 Improves My Heart Health by Decreasing Homocysteine
If you have high blood levels of the common amino acid homocysteine, then you’re likely at an increased risk of heart disease. And you’re likely to experience increased homocysteine levels if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
When you take vitamin B12 every day, you can decrease the homocysteine levels in your body and reduce your risk of heart disease.
7. Supports Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails
We already know that vitamin B12 plays an important role in cell production. So that would also mean that you need adequate levels in order to support healthy nails, skin, and hair.
In fact, you can end up with hair loss and inflamed skin if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency. It’s important that you take the vitamin every day in order to have a strong, healthy, and glowing body.
The Importance of Understanding Why I Take Vitamin B12 Every Day
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now have a better understanding of why I take vitamin B12 every day. As we can see, having adequate levels of B12 is crucial to proper bodily functioning. You can also boost your energy and mood with the vitamin, so there really is no excuse to not take it.