Vitamin B12: Health Benefits You Need to Know About

Vitamin B12: Health Benefits You Need to Know About
17.12.2023

Vitamin B12 is important for the health of your nervous system and your red blood cells. It can be found in many animal products and fortified foods.

Why do you need vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin, but it’s not one your body can produce. Instead, it is found naturally in many animal products.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for many processes in your body, including:

  • maintaining your ability to think
  • regulating and creating DNA
  • producing energy
  • keeping your brain and nervous system healthy

Your liver stores extra vitamin B12 for times when you consume less of it. But if those reserves run out, you may experience negative health effects.

What happens if your vitamin B12 is low?

Low vitamin B12 levels may cause symptoms such as:

  • tingling in your hands and feet
  • difficulty walking
  • confusion and memory loss
  • depression and irritability
  • problems with smell, taste, or vision
  • heart palpitations
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • pale skin
  • weight loss
  • glossitis (a painful, smooth, red tongue)

It’s important to treat low vitamin B12 levels to prevent anemia. Vitamin B12 is associated with a particular type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia.

If you have anemia due to a lack of vitamin B12, your red blood cells may be larger and more oval-shaped than usual. This irregular shape can prevent the red blood cells from moving from your bone marrow to your bloodstream at a typical rate.

What are the best sources of vitamin B12?

Foods high in vitamin B12 include:

  • fish and seafood such as salmon, clams, and oysters
  • lean red meat and chicken
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • eggs
  • dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
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Are there possible side effects from vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is not usually considered toxic, even at high levels. But vitamin B12 injections can cause some side effects, such as:

  • pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness
  • headaches

It’s important to let your doctor know if you experience serious side effects, such as heart palpitations, after a vitamin B12 injection.

Takeaway

Vitamin B12 is important for the health of your cells and nervous system. Low vitamin B12 levels can cause tingling in your hands and feet, difficulties with mental function, and fatigue.

You can get more vitamin B12 by eating certain animal products and fortified foods. If you have a low vitamin B12 level, a healthcare professional may recommend injections or oral supplements.

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