B12: The vital vitamin

A deficiency can affect the mind, body and emotions

brunch Updated: Nov 03, 2018 23:48 IST
Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times
Vitamin B12,animal-based foods,anaemia
Vitamin B12 helps with cell reproduction and constant skin renewal(Shutterstock)

If you are constantly drained, low on energy, feeling bloated and emotionally low, take a blood test to check the level of Vitamin B12 in your body. One of the most common deficiencies found among people today, Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Since it is only available in animal-based foods, a deficiency is common among vegetarians. Those of us with anaemia are also prone to Vitamin B12 deficiencies, as are many of us on weight loss diets that ignore micronutrients.

Importance of vitamin B12

Supports energy: Vitamin B12 keeps our cells healthy and agile because it converts carbohydrates into glucose within the body, thus leading to energy production.

Protects the heart: It removes a dangerous protein called homocysteine from the blood. Homocysteines damage the arteries, leading to inflammation and heart disease. Vitamin B12 also controls and improves unhealthy cholesterol levels, protects against strokes and controls blood pressure.

Our bones need it: Studies suggest that patients suffering from osteoporosis have higher levels of homocysteine and lower levels of Vitamin B12 than people with strong, healthy bones.

Improves mood: Vitamin B12 is a cofactor in the synthesis of the mood hormones serotonin and dopamine.

Protects brain health: Researchers have noted that patients of Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of B12 than those of a similar age who have a sharp and clear memory.

Keeps us youthful: Vitamin B12 helps with cell reproduction and constant skin renewal.

Prevents cancer: Vitamin B12 helps protect against breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

Helps you think: A deficiency can limit your ability to think clearly.

Food sources

Vitamin B12 is found only in animal-based foods such as eggs, chicken, seafood, and dairy products like milk, cheese (paneer), and yogurt. Swiss cheese has been shown to have the highest content of Vitamin B12.

Man-made forms include multivitamins, B-complex vitamins, and supplements. In its sublingual form, this vitamin is absorbed fast. It must be injected only under medical supervision.

From HT Brunch, November 4, 2018

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First Published: Nov 03, 2018 23:48 IST