Vitamin B-12 is commonly brought up when someone mentions a vegetarian or vegan diet because it’s a very important nutrient that only reliably appears in fortified plant-based foods. This is one vitamin people adhering to those diets need to add, either by taking a supplement or ensuring their meals contain foods fortified with B-12.
The benefits of the vitamin include the formation and regeneration of red blood cells, promoting growth in children, assisting in the absorption of calcium and helping carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Additionally, it is considered a tremendous resource in combating fatigue. Unlike other B vitamins, B-12 is stored in the muscle and other organs in the body and can take years to deplete. Usually later in life, after age 40, a combination of poor eating habits and losing the ability to properly absorb B-12 can catch up with us. It is at these times, especially, B-12 deficiency can set in and supplementation becomes necessary.
Further benefits of B-12 include boosting the mood and helping the nervous system to function properly, and proper brain development. Perhaps the most long-term effect of B-12 is its relationship to the Central Nervous System, as it assists in the formation of the myelin sheath, which is a protective covering for the nerves. B-12 works toward DNA synthesis and, by virtue of its red blood cell building, helps prevent anemia. And its role in cell division is critical because if certain cells are not divided–such as mucus–it can lead to a greater risk of disease. In fact, to consider the symptoms of B-12 deficiency, one can see the substantial benefits. That deficiency is linked to Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s is evidence enough to convince us that this is truly an important vitamin