What is Vitamin B12?
Cobalamin, more commonly known as vitamin B12, is a substance that has many important applications throughout your body. It is necessary for proper metabolism, aids in developing the brain and prevents brain shrinkage, and is also needed to keep your nervous system protected and functioning.
Vitamin B12 is most commonly found naturally in animal products, such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. It is also artificially added to some foods, typically fortified breakfast cereals.
Vitamin B12 is water soluble, so it is especially easy for your body to remove any excess in the case that you acquire too much B12 at any one time. However, your liver is also capable of storing vitamin B12 for long periods of time, so the vitamin rarely goes to waste.
Why Supplement With B12?
B12 supplements are most often used to treat conditions that are associated with B12 deficiency. Pernicious anemia is one of the most common conditions that B12 supplements are used to treat, though there are numerous other potential uses for vitamin B12.
Your brain and nervous system rely heavily on vitamin B12, and supplementing may improved your mental functions, such as memory and concentration, while simultaneously reducing the risk of brain damage from malnutrition. Without adequate levels of B12, your nervous system may not function properly, and the risk of brain shrinkage increases significantly. In addition to this, improved B12 levels may lower the risk of suffering from depression or anxiety, and may even offer some help in achieving a healthy sleep cycle.
However, B12 is needed for much more than just your mental health. Your body also makes use of B12 for metabolism and energy production, and is often used to promote weight loss. Having enough B12 is an important part of weight loss program, as B12 is needed to provide you with energy and proper metabolism. Additionally, B12 may bolster the immune system and help you resist disease.
Types of B12
When it comes to supplements, there are two common forms of B12: cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.
The synthetic, and often more widely available and affordable, version of B12. This form of B12 combines the cobalamin with a cyanide group, though despite cyanide being widely known as a dangerous poison, it is easily extracted and expelled from your body when taken in this form.
Cyanocobalamin may be used to treat any B12-related condition, including pernicious anemia. However, it is possible to be allergic to this type of B12, and you should speak to your doctor before beginning use about concerns related to allergies or complications related to interaction between cyanocobalamin and other medications.
Cyanocobalamin injections are the most common and effective way of receiving this supplements. When taken regularly, they may be able to keep your B12 levels at a health range.
This form of cobalamin replaces the cyanide with a methyl group, one that contains carbon and hydrogen, and is typically more expensive and more difficult to find. The benefit of using methylcobalamin instead is that it typically has a more potent and longer lasting effect.
Much like cyanocobalamin, it is possible to be allergic to this type of B12, and it may have poor interactions with certain medications. You should speak with your doctor before starting use of methylcobalamin.
Injections are the most common and effective of this supplement, as well. Despite the differences in composition, methylcobalamin is used in essentially the same way as cyanocobalamin.
Side Effects of Vitamin B12
Side effects from taking B12 supplements is rare, but it is possible to see some. These side effects include:
- Light to moderate diarrhea
- Low potassium in the blood
- Pain or soreness at the injection site
B12 supplements are classified as vitamin supplements, and are available in solutions for inter-muscular injection.
B12 supplements are recommended for effective treatment of B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia.
Do not use if you have sensitivity to B12 or folic acid deficiency. Speak with a doctor before use if you are pregnant. Speak with a physician about any illness or infection you have before beginning use. May not be effective for treating neurological damage if it has persisted for a year or more.