There’s been a lot of ruckus about vitamin B12 lately.  Many people are busy arguing the weight loss merits of the nutritional supplement.  Sadly, few people are bothering to take a look at the other benefits of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is, after all, an essential nutrient.  Therefore, it is safe to assume it plays a pretty important role in our overall health – regardless of whether or not it helps shed pounds.

Before we delve into a discussion on the benefits of the vitamin, let’s first take a look at the overall function of B12.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is just one of the nutrients that make up the B vitamin complex.  It combines with the other B vitamins to help regulate many of the body’s most important functions.  For example, vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining the health of our blood and circulatory system.

Another important role of vitamin B12 – and one we will take a specific look at today – is maintaining the functionality of the brain and nervous system.

What if There isn’t Enough Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient.  Therefore, its absence can significantly hurt the body.  Unfortunately, a vitamin B12 deficiency is much too common.

Vitamin B12 can only naturally be found in animal products – fish, meat, eggs, milk, etc.  Some foods (like breakfast cereals or energy bars) that have been fortified with extra vitamins contain B12.

If you aren’t consuming enough of these foods (or your body fails to absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat), you could become vitamin B12 deficient.

A vitamin B12 deficiency comes with many side effects.  In the beginning, before the levels drop too significantly, patients reported feeling dizzy and tired.  If left untreated, the deficiency progresses and symptoms worsen.  Patients will suffer from extreme mood swings, memory loss, depression (some to the extreme of suicidal tendencies), mania, and psychosis.

How Can Vitamin B12 Injections Affect Long-Term Mental Health?

If a vitamin B12 deficiency is left untreated, patients can experience severe, irreversible effects to their nervous system.

But even those with just slightly lower-than-normal levels can benefit from B12 too; you don’t have to have a diagnosed deficiency to impact your health with vitamin supplements.

Recently, there was a study conducted at Oxford University.  Dr. Celeste de Jager, a neuropsychologist, gathered 270 men and women to join in an Alzheimer’s study.

All of the participants were showing mild cognitive impairment before they joined the study.  Patients were specifically chosen because of their memory problems, language issues or other mental impairments.  Why?  Mild cognitive impairment affects one in six adults over the age of 70 – and 50% of those go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease within five years.

By combining vitamin B12 with B6 and folic acid, Dr. Celeste de Jager was able to present significant findings to the mental health community.  In large doses, these nutrients help reduce the cognitive decline that is an instigator of many dementias.

After two years, participants were seeing positive results.  The vitamin cocktail had reduced the overall shrinkage of the participants’ brains by 30-50%.

Why does it have to be Injections? Don’t other Supplements Work?

Vitamin B12 comes in a variety of different supplement options – injections, oral pills, sublingual (under the tongue) drops or skin patches.  However, injections have proven to be the most effective.

All other forms of supplementation must first be metabolized and absorbed by the body.  A great majority of the nutrient is lost during this process.

Vitamin B12 injections are placed directly into the muscle.  Therefore, 100% is absorbed by the bloodstream.  This supplementation option is really the only one that works for the older generations.  Once we advance past a certain age, the body has an extremely difficult time absorbing vitamin B12.  Therefore, any supplementation method other than injections is basically useless.

When we are young and full of life, it is difficult to imagine late-life illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease.  However, our actions when we are young – and the attention we give our overall health – will make a big different down the road.

Those who have been around awhile shouldn’t despair.  It isn’t too late to attend to mental health issues.  Start vitamin B12 injections to decrease the chance of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

There’s no time like the present.  What are you waiting for?!

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