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Here’s Why You Should Optimize Your Vitamin B12 Levels

Out of the different vitamins praised for their possible benefits, vitamin B12 is probably one of the most ideal for improving your well-being. Also called cobalamin, this water-soluble nutrient plays a vital role in DNA production and red blood cell formation, enhancing nervous system function and improving cell metabolism.

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in food sources like pasture-raised chicken, meat, fish, nutritional yeast and grass fed milk. This B vitamin may greatly help:

  1. Reduce your risk for dementia and low cognitive function
  2. Regulate homocysteine levels in your blood
  3. Produce adrenal hormones
  4. Stimulate red blood cell circulation throughout the body
  5. Promote better digestion
  6. Improve reproductive system health
  7. Boost athletic performance

It’s best to get vitamin B12 from your diet, but supplements can help if you find you’re not getting enough through your foods. There are two main kinds of vitamin B12 supplements: cyanocobalamin (the synthetic form) and methylcobalamin (the naturally occurring form). Methylcobalamin is the better choice, since your body retains it in greater amounts.

Monitoring and increasing your body’s vitamin B12 stores not only allows your body to reap the benefits of this essential vitamin, but also helps you avoid vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, some people aren’t even aware that they’re lacking in this vital nutrient.

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Nearly half of Americans have less-than-stellar blood levels of vitamin B12, triggering symptoms such as numbness, slight nausea and dizziness, foggy vision, forgetfulness, feelings of pins and needles, weight loss, mouth sores, yellow skin (jaundice), mental confusion and diarrhea. If you become severely deficient in B12, you can also be at risk of complications, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Intestinal problems
  • Mood problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Different types of cancers

Plus, you need to be extra vigilant if you belong to any of these groups, as you’re more likely to experience a vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Older adults, especially those over 50 years old
  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • Alcohol drinkers
  • Coffee drinkers, particularly those who drink more than four cups a day
  • People diagnosed with autoimmune diseases that inhibit proper vitamin B12 absorption
  • People who take antibiotics, antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

The bottom line  is that the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency clearly show how important this nutrient is for your overall health, so don’t wait for symptoms to appear — it’s vital to make it a point to include more vitamin B12-rich options in your diet.