Vitamins are organic compounds found in the foods we eat. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients are technically classified as foods and not drugs because they occur naturally in plants and animals. In a perfect world, we would get all the nutrients we need from a nutrient-dense diet, but modern diets and stressful lifestyles often leave us deficient in certain vital nutrients, increasing health risks and undermining physical and mental performance. Vitamin B12 is a critical nutrient that many people do not get enough of.
Role of B12 in the Human Body
Vitamin B12 plays multiple crucial roles in human health. B12 compounds contain the mineral cobalt, and are collectively called “cobalamins.”
Adequate B12 levels are vital to the healthy function of multiple systems:
- Supports red blood cell formation. Red blood cells contain the protein hemoglobin that is responsible for transporting oxygen to cells throughout your body. Deficiency of B12 reduces the number and quality of red blood cells, a condition called pernicious anemia that inhibits oxygen delivery to the cells, causing fatigue and weakness, and potentially causing heart and nerve damage.
- Protects heart health. Vitamin B12 helps to convert the amino acid homocysteine to a more useful amino acid for protein synthesis. Elevated levels of homocysteine that are not buffered by B12 increase the risk of heart disease, putting those deficient in B12 at greater risk.
- Protects cognitive health. There appears to be a strong link between Vitamin B12 deficiency and the onset of dementia. One study (Wang et al., 2001) of 370 elderly patients aged 75 and older found that study participants with low levels of B12 were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
- Supports bone health. Healthy bones that resist fractures have a high bone mineral density (BMD). One longitudinal study (Tucker et al., 2005) involving 2576 adult participants found that both men and women with low plasma levels of B12 had significantly lower bone mineral density in the hip and spine. As with heart health, high levels of homocysteine played a significant role in low BMD.
- Promotes a positive mood. Low levels of Vitamin B12 play a key role in depressive disorders. A study by Tiemeier et al. (2002) of 278 subjects with a mean age of 72.9 years found that subjects deficient in B12 were almost 70% more likely to have a depressive disorder. Once again, elevated homocysteine levels played a key role.
- Protects against loss of muscle tissue (sarcopenia) and strength (dynapenia). B12 is important for building and maintaining healthy lean muscle mass. A study of 403 older adults (Bulut et al., 2017) suggested a link between significant loss of muscle mass and strength and low levels of Vitamin B12.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is arguably one of the most essential nutrients for optimal human health. Because it can only be obtained from animal sources like meat, eggs, fish and dairy, people who follow strict vegan or vegetarian diets, or whose diets consist of mostly processed foods, are likely to be deficient.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Anemia that results in numbness and poor circulation in the extremities
- Reduced cognitive function and dementia
- Low energy and muscle weakness
- Poor balance
- Sores in the mouth and tongue
Best Ways to Boost B12 Levels
Eating a diet rich in foods that deliver vitamin B12 is recommended as the best way to optimize B12 levels. However, most people do not get adequate amounts of B12 through diet alone, and supplementation is necessary. There are plenty of oral supplement options available, but because B12 is water soluble, supplements often lose their potency during the digestive process.
Two alternative routes for supplementing B12 are:
- B12 IV Therapy: Intravenous therapy is an efficient nutrient delivery option since it bypasses digestion, preserving the supplement’s potency. Because of B12’s role in red blood cell formation, delivery straight to the bloodstream means rapid results.
- B12 Shots: Regular intramuscular injections are also a more direct way to deliver Vitamin B12. As red blood cells circulate, they pick up the B12 compound from the muscles and distribute it via the bloodstream.
Vitamin B12 IV Therapy and B12 Shots in NYC
Ignoring a Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to serious problems that rob you of enjoying a vital healthy life. Vegans, vegetarians and people with poor eating habits are especially at risk. To quickly increase your B12 levels and boost your overall health, contact Advanced Cryo NYC today, and make your next appointment to take control of your health and restore healthy nutrient levels.
Bulut, Esra Ates, et al. “Vitamin B12 deficiency might be related to sarcopenia in older adults.” Experimental gerontology 95 (2017): 136-140.
Tiemeier, Henning, et al. “Vitamin B12, folate, and homocysteine in depression: the Rotterdam Study.” American Journal of Psychiatry 159.12 (2002): 2099-2101.
Tucker, Katherine L., et al. “Low plasma vitamin B12 is associated with lower BMD: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 20.1 (2005): 152-158.
Wang, Hui-Xin, et al. “Vitamin B12 and folate in relation to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.” Neurology 56.9 (2001): 1188-1194.