The Health Benefits of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

The Health Benefits of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

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Introduction & Biological Role

Let’s take a few minutes to talk about vitamin B12 also known as cobalamin. It’s an essential, water soluble vitamin. Like all B vitamins, vitamin B12 is utilized in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is important for maintaining healthy nerve cells and helps in the production of DNA and RNA. It also helps modulate red blood cell production and iron utilization as well as moderate homocysteine levels.

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Potential Benefits

Treatment of pernicious anemia

This is a type of anemia that occurs when your gastrointestinal tract does not make a specific enzyme that helps you absorb vitamin B12. Individuals with this disorder require supplementation to have normal levels of red blood cells.

Heart disease

Like vitamin B6 and vitamin B9, vitamin B12 also lowers homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. However, it is not well understood at this time whether supplementing vitamin b12 actually reduces the risk of any of these diseases.

Age related macular degeneration

May reduce risk, need more research.

Fatigue

Supplementation may boost energy levels

Male infertility

Preliminary studies suggest vitamin B12 supplements may improve sperm counts and sperm motility in men.

Potential benefits requiring more research

  • Shaky-leg syndrome.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Canker sores.
  • Cervical cancer.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Lung cancer.
  • Allergies.
  • Aging.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Preventing re-blockage of blood vessels after heart artery dilation (balloon angioplasty).
  • Fatigue or tiredness.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Immune system problems.
  • Memory problems.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Psoriasis.

Safety & Toxicity Profile

Vitamin B12 is considered safe and non-toxic

Drug Interactions

There are a fair number of drug interactions with vitamin B12 and you should talk to your doctor if you are on prescription medications before you begin supplementing.

Recommended Daily Allowance from NIH

  • 19 years and older: 2.4 mcg (RDA)
  • Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg (RDA)
  • Breastfeeding women: 2.8 mcg (RDA)

Dietary Sources (Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods)

  • Fish,
  • Shellfish,
  • Dairy products,
  • Organ meats -- particularly liver and kidney--
  • Eggs,
  • Beef, and
  • Pork.

Related Links (View All: Vitamins | Minerals | Supplements )

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Top 10 Dietary Sources of Vitamin B12

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