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10 Amazing Benefits Of Vitamin B12 (And Where To Get It)

10 Amazing Benefits Of Vitamin B12 (And Where To Get It)

Vitamin B12 is necessary to ensure the proper functioning and health of nerve tissues, brain function, and red blood cells.

A wide variety of signs and symptoms[1] may occur when you are deficient including cognitive impairment and slowed mental processing and a host of behavioral and emotional issues such as depression, irritability, and psychosis. In young children, the symptoms include poor growth and development, and difficulties with movement.

This vitamin can be found most commonly in foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products. As you age, your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food slows down making it difficult to reap vitamin B12 benefits[2]. The following as some of the benefits of Vitamin B12:

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 1.  Helps maintain a healthy digestive system

Vitamin B12 also protects against heart disease by regulating cholesterol levels[3], which assists in the prevention of high blood pressure.

Improving absorption begins with consuming adequate amounts of B12-rich foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and other fortified foods which assist in producing healthy gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria keeps the digestive system functioning well and ensures that B12 is properly absorbed.

2. Helps keep hair, skin and nails healthy

Vitamin B12 helps in the reproduction of tissue cells and cellular regeneration is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails.[4]  It is important for metabolism and its metabolic boosting properties assist in boosting the skin’s metabolism. Nutrients are able to more easily reach your skin, resulting in healthier tissue, vibrant skin tone and strong healthy hair and nails.

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3. Helps in healthy regulation of the nervous system

Healthy amounts of vitamin B12 can assist in reducing brain shrinkage which can cause depression and stress.[5] B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate are linked to depression.

4. It is a natural energy enhancer

Low energy levels, lethargy and the feeling of not wanting to do anything may be a sign that you are not getting enough Vitamin B12. Working in concert with the other B vitamins, B12 is known for its ability to keep you alert and feeling energized. It is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose in the body, leading to energy production and a decrease in fatigue and lethargy in the body

5. Helps to prevent anemia

B12 is necessary for the production of a healthy level of red blood cells. The constant production of red blood cells helps to ward off megaloblastic anemia[6]which causes chronic fatigue and physical weakness throughout the body.

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6. Protects and treats certain types of cancer

Vitamin B12 helps in the prevention and treatment of certain cancers, particularly prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancer.

7Protects Against Heart Disease

B12 has been shown to assist in sustaining and improving the cardiovascular system overall.[7] Adequate levels of vitamin B12 is a major part of a comprehensive approach to maintaining a healthy heart.

8. Helps to prevent stroke

B vitamins have been linked to a lower incidence of stroke which is a condition that occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, or a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Vitamin B12 helps to protect against heart disease like a heart attack or stroke by lowering high homocysteine levels in the blood.

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Foods that enhance vitamin B12 benefits

Foods high in Vitamin B12[8] include shellfish, liver, fish, crab, fortified soy products (tofu, soymilk), fortified cereals, red meat, low-fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. Below are the top 10 foods ranked in order according to the percentage of B12 they contain based on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommending daily value (DV) index.[9]

  1. Shell fish[10]Clams, oysters and mussels contain massive amounts of B12. One 3 oz. serving of cooked clams contains 1401% of the recommended DV.
  2. Liver[11]: A three-ounce serving of beef liver will provide you with 1178% of the recommended DV.
  3. Fish[12]: Fish highest in B12 are  Mackerel (269% DV), Smoked Salmon (257% DV), Herring (186% DV), Tuna (154% DV) , Canned Sardines (126% DV) and Trout (106% DV)
  4. Crustaceans[13]: Crustaceans include crayfish, shrimp, lobster and crab. A three oz. serving of crab contains 163% DV.
  5. Red Meat[14]: Beef and lamb are particularly high in this vitamin. A three ounce serving of cooked beef contains 85% DV
  6. Fortified Soy Products[15]: This category is inclusive of food items such as tofu and plain soymilk which contains 34% DV.
  7. Fortified Cereals[16]: The amount of B12 in cereals will vary by brand and in order to find the correct cereal to fit your nutritional needs, make sure to check the label. A cup of Kellogg’s All-Bran Buds cereal contains 300% of the recommended DV. Most cereals do not have B12 levels this high.
  8.  Dairy products[17]: These products include: Nonfat Yogurt (25% DV), Reduced Fat Milk (22% DV), Skim Milk (21% DV) Whole Milk (18% DV), and Full Fat Yogurt (15% DV)
  9. Cheese[18]: Adding three ounce serving of the following cheeses to your favorite dishes is a great way to get some additional B12 incorporated into your diet: Swiss (14% DV), Reduced Fat Mozzarella, Parmesan and Gietost (11% DV), Tilsit (10% DV) and Feta (8% DV).
  10. Eggs[19]: Surprisingly, there are a variety of eggs that provide a good dose of B12, including: Chicken eggs (6% DV per yolk), Goose (122% DV), Duck (63% DV), Turkey (22% DV), and Quail (2% DV).

As you can see, most foods delivering vitamin B12 benefits are primarily meat products, which can prove to be problematic for those who do not eat meat or meat products.

Here are some ways vegans can maintain their meat-free diet and still avoid becoming B12 deficient:[20]

  1. Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day
  2. OR  Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms
  3. OR  Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

It is important to note that the less frequently your body receives B12 the more you will need to take. Vitamin B12 is best absorbed in small amounts although there is no harm in exceeding the recommended amounts or using more than one option above to receive the recommended daily dose. Fortified foods such as grains, nut or grain ‘milks’ and nutritional or brewers yeast can be added to foods to provide B12 organically. Yeast can easily be added to foods with little or no effect on the taste or texture.

Precautions

Vitamin B12 is considered safe for most people when taken orally, applied to the skin, taken through the nose, administered as a shot, or injected into the vein (by IV). It is even considered safe in large doses. However, here are a few specific precautions and warnings you should be aware of:[21]

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Doctors recommend that pregnant and breast-feeding women are careful not to exceed the recommended DV as the effects of taking higher doses during these times are unknown.
  • Post-surgical stent placement: Vitamins B6, B12 and folate should be avoided after this type of coronary procedure as it could cause the blood vessels to narrow and lead to complications.
  • Allergy or sensitivity to cobalt or cobalamin; Leber’s disease or a hereditary eye disease: People with these conditions should avoid taking B12
  • Abnormal red blood cells (megaloblastic anemia): This condition is often treated by vitamin B12 therapy, however, it could also exacerbate this condition. Follow the advice of your health care provider
  • High numbers of red blood cells (polycythemia vera): Vitamin B12 deficiency therapy could unmask the symptoms of this condition.

Reference

[1] http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes#1
[2] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219822.php
[3] http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/heart-health/lowering-cholesterol-naturally-with-b-vitamins/
[4] https://eunatural.com/vitamin-b12-hair/
[5] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/vitamin-b12-and-depression/faq-20058077
[6] https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/anemia-megaloblastic/
[7] http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/health-benefits-of-vitamin/2015/04/07/id/387945/
[8] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-B12.php#vitamin-b12-density-by-gram
[9] http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm
[10] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=15159&t=15159&h=15159&s=100&e=85.0&r=190.0
[11] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=13327&t=13327&h=07041&s=100&e=81.0&r=28.4
[12] http://www.lifehack.org/496827/10-foods-highest-in-vitamin-d-that-you-should-include-in-your-diet
[13] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=15137&t=15137&h=15137&s=100&e=134.0&r=85.0
[14] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=23065&t=23065&h=23065&s=100&e=34.0&r=85.0
[15] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=16272&t=16272&h=16238&s=100&e=91.0&r=243.0
[16] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=08005&t=08005&h=&s=100&e=30.0&r=31.0
[17] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=01151&t=01151&h=01118&s=100&e=245.0&r=245.0
[18] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/cheese-high-in-vitamin-b12.php
[19] https://www.healthaliciousness.com/nutritionfacts/nutrition-comparison.php?o=01125&t=01125&h=01131&s=100&e=17.0&r=50.0
[20] http://veganhealth.org/articles/vitaminb12
[21] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-926-vitamin%20b12.aspx?activeingredientid=926

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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