6 Important Facts About Vitamin B12

  1. A healthy gut is important for vitamin B12 absorption– Your gut health determines your vitamin B12 levels in multiple ways. Your stomach lining produces a protein called ‘intrinsic factor’ that helps in absorption of vitamin B12 from the food sources. Sometimes there is an insufficiency of this intrinsic factor due to several reasons like — autoimmune disorder, gastrectomy (where some part of stomach is surgically removed), or inflammation in gut due to infections. Unhealthy eating habits, excessive alcohol, low stomach acid, frequent use of antacids also result in poor gut health which leads to poor absorption of this vitamin. So, maintaining gut health is fundamental to maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12.
  2. Your body can produce vitamin B12– There’s a famous myth that your body cannot synthesize vitamin B12. Several scientific studies have debunked this myth. The good bacteria present in your gut can synthesize vitamin B12. This means, having diversity of good bacteria in your intestine is essential to normalize levels of vitamin B12. Probiotics rich foods like yoghurt, milk, and fermented foods contribute friendly bacteria which help in producing vitamin B12 in intestines. A diet rich in fiber- consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important to boost growth of friendly bacteria in the gut. The gut bacteria also need a mineral called ‘cobalt’ to make this vitamin. This mineral is commonly found in foods like milk, nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetables like cabbage, spinach and broccoli. Vitamin B12 deficiency is very commonly found, even in people who are non-vegetarian. The reason could be an unhealthy gut. The signs of an unhealthy gut are acidity, bloating, indigestion, and constipation.
  3. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can increase risk of heart disease– Vitamin B12 is involved in breakdown of a protein called ‘homocysteine’. High homocysteine levels in blood can lead to formation of blood clots and free radical damage to the cells that line arteries. This can lead to narrowing and blockage of arteries. Homocysteine is also known to reduce contractility of heart muscle through a different mechanism. This affects the pumping capacity of the heart and increases risk of congestive heart failure. A lack of adequate vitamin B12 can increase homocysteine levels.
  4. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to cognitive decline– Vitamin B12 plays an important role in brain functions. It helps in formation of ‘myelin sheath’ (a protective covering for nerves that carry messages from brain to the rest of your body) — so, its deficiency causes confusion, memory problems, brain fog, and the most common warning sign is numbness and tingling in hands and feet. High homocysteine levels due to deficiency of vitamin B12 are also linked with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive decline.
  5. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to weight gain– Vitamin B12 plays a key role in fat metabolism. A scientific study proved a link between the importance of vitamin B12 and various components of metabolism syndrome. Severe B12 deficiency leads to increased fat accumulation and obesity.

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