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Top 9 Vitamin B12 Benefits
Wonder how vitamin B12 functions as a health-promoting vitamin? Vitamin B12 functions as a beneficial substance in the following ways:

1. Helps Maintain Energy Levels
Vitamin B12 benefits your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into useable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, so this is the reason why people with vitamin B12 deficiencies often experience fatigue. Vitamin B12 is also needed for neurotransmitter signaling that helps your muscles contract and gives you energy to go about your day without feeling tired and run down.

2. Prevents Memory Loss and Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
A vitamin B12 deficiency may cause various neurologic and psychiatric disturbances. Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 benefits cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (9) (10)

3. Boosts Mood and Helps the Nervous System to Properly Function
One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folate, is needed as a major determinant of one-carbon metabolism, which produces the compound called SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). SAM is crucial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation. (11) (12)

Vitamin B12 is needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning, so a vitamin B12 deficiency can result in difficulty focusing and an increased risk for attention disorders.

4. Plays a Role in Maintaining Heart Health
Vitamin B12 benefits cardiovascular health in several ways, which is important considering the fact that heart disease is currently the number one cause of death worldwide. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. (13) Homocysteine is an amino acid and its levels in the blood are influenced by blood levels of B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 helps to protect against heart disease like a heart attack or stroke by lowering high homocysteine levels in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels. B vitamins are also able to control atherosclerotic diseases, in which someone experiences a dangerous build-up of plaque in the arteries. (14)

5. Needed for Healthy Skin and Hair
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays a major part in cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne blemishes — and can be applied to the skin for psoriasis and eczema. It can also reduce hair breakage and help nails to become stronger.
Vitamin B12 benefits

6. Aids in Digestion
Due to its role in helping with digestive enzyme production, vitamin B12 is needed to support a healthy metabolism and the breakdown of foods within the stomach. One of the ways that vitamin B12 benefits digestion? It helps foster healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract — and simultaneously the presence of beneficial bacteria — is what prevents digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) or Candida.

7. Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy
Vitamin B12 is needed to create nucleic acid, or DNA — the basic genetic material that’s used to create the entire body. Therefore, vitamin B12 is not only a key nutrient for growth and development, but a vital component of a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 also interacts with folate in the body, so it may help lower the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.

8. May Help Prevent Cancer
Vitamin B12 supplementation is now being studied as a way to help lower the risk of certain kinds of cancers, especially when taken with folate. (15) Some preliminary research shows that vitamin B12 benefits the immune system enough to potentially help prevent cancer, including cervical, prostate and colon cancers.

9. Helps Produce Red Blood Cells and Prevent Anemia
Vitamin B12 is needed to help produce a healthy level of red blood cells. It helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness. (16)

Best Sources of Vitamin B12
According to the National Institute of Health, two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from foods and experience the vitamin B12 benfits mentioned above.

First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached in food. After this, vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and is absorbed by the body. (17)

So, essentially, the health of your digestive system is just as important in absorbing and using adequate levels of vitamin B12 as the foods you’re eating are!

According to a 2007 done by the Experiential Biology and Medicine group, vitamin B12 is a difficult nutrient to absorb, with healthy adults only being able to actually absorb and use about 50 percent of the vitamin B12 present within food sources, and sometimes much less. (18) The vitamin B12 present in foods like chicken, meat and fish were found to be the most absorbable, while eggs were shown to be somewhat poorly absorbed, with only about 9 percent of its vitamin B12 being used by the body.

Another unfortunate finding was that algae foods, such as blue-green algae that is a popular “superfood” among vegans and vegetarians, was not a very absorbable source of vitamin B12 at all. This is another reason why many vegans are told to take vitamin B12 supplements daily, even if they believe they are acquiring enough from certain plant foods, in order to prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency. (19)

Although the exact rate of absorbability depends on the person’s digestive health, here are the top food sources that provide vitamin B12 (with percentages based on 2.4 milligrams daily for adults):

Beef and chicken liver (20) — 3 ounces: 81 milligrams (3,375% RDA)
Salmon (21) — 1 filet (108 grams): 19.5 milligrams (812%)
Herring (22) —1 filet (143 grams): 18.7 milligrams (779%)
Mackerel (23) — 3 ounces: 15.3 milligrams (637%)
Sardines (24) — 1 cup: 13.3 milligrams (554%)
Tuna (25) — 3 ounces: 9.3 milligrams (385%)
Trout (26) — 1 filet: 9.1 milligrams (379%)
Organic yogurt (27) — 1 container of plain Greek yogurt (170 grams): 1.3 mg (53%)
Turkey (28) — 3 ounces: 1.1 milligrams (43%)
Raw milk (29) — 1 cup: 1 milligrams (41%)
Beef tenderloin (30) — 3 ounces: 0.9 milligrams (38%)
Lamb (31) — 3 ounces: 0.8 milligrams (34%)