Advertising
Advertising

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:

Advertising

 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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

20 Simple Ways to Bring Positive Energy into Life Right Now Why It’s Never Too Late To Redefine Yourself 30 Best Business Podcasts That Help Entrepreneurs Become Successful Day 10 Shocking! Exercise Right After Eating Ain’t That Bad for Health The 10 Best Nonfiction Books Of All Time You Should Not Miss

Trending in Food and Drink

1 27 Healthy Pressure Cooker Meals (with Easy Recipes) 2 15 Easy-to-Make Crockpot Freezer Meals for Busy Nights 3 5 Savory Ice-Cream Sandwiches Every Dessert Lover Can’t Miss 4 8 Hearty Soups That Will Surely Keep You Warm This Fall 5 8 Mouth-Watering Turkey Stuffing Recipes For Thanksgiving

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

Advertising

Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

Advertising

What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

Advertising

  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

Advertising

Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next