Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient. Most people consume enough of this vitamin as part of a regular, healthy diet. It is most commonly found in meat, fish, and dairy products. Additionally, some foods (like breakfast cereals) have been enriched with the vitamin.
Supplements are most commonly taken to cure a vitamin B12 deficiency. This condition occurs when an individual has low levels of the vitamin in the blood. A deficiency is common for vegetarians and vegans who don’t eat meat products. A deficiency can also occur if a person’s body is incapable of absorbing the vitamin properly.
Vitamin B12 supplements are also used to treat pernicious anemia. This serious type of anemia is most common among the older population.
Uses for Vitamin B12
A lot of the research surrounding vitamin B12 is fairly inconclusive. While there isn’t a significant amount of research available, it is believe vitamin B12 supplements may help treat or prevent the following conditions:
- AIDS side effects
- Amyothrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Gum disease
- Heart disease (by lowering high homocysteine levels)
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Lyme disease
- Macular Degeneration (an age-related eye disease)
- Male infertility
- Memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s Disease
- Mental disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Swollen tendons
- Vitiligo (a skin disease)
- Weight loss
Additionally, some claim vitamin B12 supplements might help prevent cervical, lung and breast cancer. The vitamin has also been known to boost mood, energy levels, concentration and focus. The vitamin can be applied to the skin (either alone or in combination with avocado oil) to treat psoriasis and eczema.
Why Vitamin B12 is Important ?
Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper function and development of the brain, nerves, and blood cells.
Without adequate levels of the vitamin, individuals experience urine leakage, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, tingling in fingers and toes, forgetfulness and confusion, hallucinations, tremors, and depression.
Treatment Methods and Dosages
There are various vitamin B12 supplements available. Those who suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency often turn to B12 injections, pills, liquid, transdermal patch, or nasal spray. It can be taken singly or in combination with other supplements.
Vitamin B12 is safe for most people, as long as it is taken via the proper method in the proper amount. A doctor or medical professional should be consulted before taking this – or any – supplement.
The vitamin is also likely safe for pregnant and breast feeding women. Pregnant women should not take more than 2.6 mcg per day and breastfeeding women should not exceed 2.8 mcg per day.
Individuals with megaloblastic anemia often find relief with a vitamin B12 supplement. However, there can be very serious side effects for these patients. It is important to be closely supervised by a doctor.
Also, those with Leber’s disease or an allergy (or sensitivity) to cobalt or cobalamin should not take vitamin B12 supplements.
Those who take the supplement often report incidents of diarrhea, blood clots, itching, serious allergic reaction or other side effects.
Understanding how the building blocks of nutrition affect our daily lives is very important. If you think you have a vitamin deficiency, consult your doctor. Also, ask about the possibility of using the supplement to help treat or prevent other health issues.
Guest author Chelsea Smith is a health and fitness writer. She usually specializes in topics related to exercise, weight loss, nutrition, and hair loss.