Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential to mental and physical health. It helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, and is needed to make DNA. It can also increase energy levels by improving the efficiency of carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

There is significant controversy about vitamin B12 because it is not found in substantial quantities in any plant foods. Some see this as proof that the human body requires meat to be healthy. Vegetarians generally reject this claim, arguing that unnatural eating and living conditions explain the difficulty.

One theory holds that as a result of inorganic farming methods our soil is no longer rich in the bacteria needed to produce vitamin B12. This in combination with overly thorough washing of produce has eliminated the B12 that was once found on the surface of vegetables.

Another theory points to a lack of vital bacteria in the human digestive tract that would normally create adequate amounts of B12. The Western diet, combined with overuse of antibiotics, has all but destroyed healthy internal bacteria necessary for the production of vitamin B12. They propose taking high quality probiotics to rebuild healthy human bacterial colonies and at the same time modifying dietary factors that kill off healthy bacteria. Although they have not yet been shown to provide enough B12 for the body, there is some evidence that probiotics do make a positive impact.

Regardless of how one gets vitamin B12, experts all agree that it is vital to human health. Taking sub-lingual vitamin B12 tablets and/or eating nutritional yeast on a regular basis are excellent ways to maintain adequate levels of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms can include appetite loss, diarrhea, numbness in the hands and feet, fatigue, sore mouth and tongue, depression, nervousness, or dandruff. If not treated, B12 deficiency can cause memory loss, confusion, and irreversible damage to the central nervous system.

There are no known toxicity symptoms from consuming too much vitamin B12. The excess is flushed out of the body in the urine. The urine may be bright yellow after taking B12, but this color change is harmless.

US Recommended Daily Allowance: 6 mcg

Health Benefits of Vitamin B12

Blood Important for maintaining healthy red blood cells. A deficiency can cause pernicious anemia which is characterized by large, immature red blood cells.
Hair A deficiency may cause dandruff.
Memory A deficiency can lead to memory loss.
Mood A deficiency can cause depression and confusion.
Motor Function A deficiency can cause movement disorders, delayed development, and poor balance, particularly in infants.
Nails A deficiency can lead to dark nails that are flat or thin.
Nerves Important for maintaining healthy nerve cells. A deficiency can lead to a host of neurological problems such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, and poor memory. Nerve damage may be irreversible in some cases.
Sleep Cycle Often used to treat insomnia.