Do you find yourself getting tired around the middle of the day, but you’ve already consumed your daily quota of caffeine? Do you need an energy boost and no I am not talking about drinking one of those energy drinks either. I find that taking B12 in the afternoon gives me that natural pick me up without the caffeine jitters.
From protecting against cancer to looking after your hair and skin, there are many health benefits to Vitamin B12. The most common benefit of B12 is its ability to boost ones energy level, and speed up your metabolism. If you eat a vegan diet, you MUST be sure you’re getting the amount of Vitamin B12 you need. If you’ve eliminated red meat altogether, are a vegan or vegetarian, a nutritional yeast that is fortified with B12 (be sure to check the label) can also be an excellent source of this vitamin; simply sprinkle 1 tablespoon per day into your lasagnas, smoothies and even desserts for your daily dose of B12. While other plant foods may claim to be a source of B12, these are unreliable as the amount can vary; a fortified yeast (or breakfast cereal) is a better bet.
B12 deficiency isn’t a bizarre, rare disease, its actually far more common than most health care practitioners and the general public realize. Recent studies suggest anywhere from 15-40% of Americans don’t have adequate levels of B12 for optimal health.
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 has health benefits for young and old alike, and everyone in between. It combats asthma in children, has shown promise against HIV in adults, and has helped the elderly who find their minds aren’t as sharp as they used to be.
Older adults who notice a decline in mental function, even the emergence of Alzheimer’s disease, need to get on the B12 bandwagon. Experts have found that when mental symptoms are treated with vitamin B12 within six months of onset, many of the symptoms disappear or mental clarity improves.
As you get older, vitamin B12 can reverse mental slowdowns or just help you get a good night’s sleep.Vitamin B12 may also help alleviate depression in the elderly by working with a compound that helps to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for a calm feeling of well being.
B12 also plays a role in melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for letting you get a good night’s sleep. As we age, the body is less efficient at making this hormone. B12 supplementation has helped some older adults sleep better.
On the opposite end of the life spectrum, children who have asthma may benefit from vitamin B12 as well. Weekly injections of 1,000 mcg or daily oral supplements of 1 to 3 mcg improved their condition and resulted in less shortness of breath.
AIDS patients typically have low levels of this vitamin. This can be used as an indicator that overall nutritional status is low and that attention needs to be given to intake of all nutrients. In the laboratory, vitamin B12, in any form, reduces replication of HIV. This is a hopeful treatment yet to be tested in humans.
Several studies show that B12 dramatically increases sperm counts in men whose counts are low. The vitamin also jump-starts sperm’s action, increasing motility rates.
People with tinnitus, that constant ringing in the ears, are often deficient in vitamin B12. Supplementation diminishes the irritating ringing for some people.
For many Americans, including vitamin B12-rich foods and fortified foods can help them easily meet their needs. However, supplements and injections can be another option for people who already have or are at higher risk for deficiency. There are numerous vitamins, lozenges, dissolving oral tablets, lollipops and patches that deliver adequate amounts of B12, so choose a method that works for you, and be sure it provides the dose you are looking for. If you have a B12 deficiency, injections can also be very effective, as they provide an immediate boost of energy and help to correct the deficiency. However, they tend to be more expensive and you need to visit a doctor or health-care provider. Be sure to discuss all of your options and choose the one that is the best fit for your health needs, budget and lifestyle.
Vitamin B12 is just one of the many vitamins that are part of a healthy diet.