Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps maintain proper body function. The body cannot make vitamin B12, so you must get this nutrient from your diet.

Restrictive diets may limit B12 consumption, and certain physiological changes as a part of normal aging can affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12. The result is that many adults are not getting the B12 they need for optimal health.

What Is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found mostly in animal-based foods such as dairy, red meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Vegetarian and vegan diets that omit these foods need to add additional sources of vitamin B12 to their diet. 

In addition to this, individuals over the age of 50 and anyone with underlying conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption may also need supplemental vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is important for several functions within the body. It supports heart health and the production of red blood cells. It also provides support for the nervous system and cognitive function, while helping promote sustained energy levels and healthy mood. 

If you are not getting enough B12, symptoms can appear slowly. These symptoms can be confused for other conditions, so it is often overlooked. It is important to have your levels tested regularly, if you notice: 

♦ numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
♦ difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
♦ low iron levels
♦ a swollen, inflamed tongue
♦ difficulty thinking and reasoning
♦ memory loss
♦ occasional weakness
occasional fatigue

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(According to the NIH, approximately 6% of adults younger than 60 years have vitamin B12 deficiency, but the rate is closer to 20% in those older than 60.)

Vitamin B12 for Your Heart

Along with the production of red blood cells, one of the most important roles of vitamin B12 is its support in cardiovascular health. This vitamin's ability to help maintain healthy hormone levels supports arterial integrity and healthy blood flow. 

Research has also found that vitamin B12 helps support healthy blood lipid levels. By maintaining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. B12 supports arterial health, proper circulation, and overall heart function.

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Additional Benefits of Vitamin B12

The importance of vitamin B12 for heart function is only one of its health benefits. In addition to supporting heart function, vitamin B12 promotes overall health in several ways.

Supports bone health: Vitamin B12 helps promote healthy bone density, especially in women.

Promotes eye function: Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy amino acid levels, which supports macular function and vision health.

Supports healthy mood: Vitamin B12 promotes serotonin production, which is associated with healthy mood maintenance.

Supports cognitive function: B12 supports healthy blood flow which allows for optimal nutrient delivery to brain cells for proper neurotransmitter performance to support learning, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Helps maintain normal energy:  Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the body's energy production

Taking Vitamin B12

The recommended dosage of vitamin B12 varies depending on how much you consume from your diet. In general, the recommended daily intake for adults under the age of 50 is 2.4mcg. This amount is easy to consume through diet. 

If you have a restricted diet, conditions that may interfere with nutrient absorption, or are looking to promote heart health, a higher dose may be recommended by your doctor.

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Possible Side Effects and Warnings

Vitamin B12 supplements are considered safe for adult consumption when taken as recommended, and there is no tolerable upper intake level set. As a water-soluble vitamin, your body will excrete anything you do not need or use. You should consult your doctor before adding a vitamin B12 supplement to your daily routine.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body needs for optimal function. You must get B2 through diet, and if for any reason you may not be getting enough, consult your doctor about starting a B12 supplement. With maintained vitamin B12 levels, you can support healthy heart and circulatory function, cognitive health, healthy mood, and normal energy, and live your best day, every day.