Are you getting enough vitamin B12?
You want to make sure you have plenty of this amazing vitamin. B12 is a building block for wellbeing. Your body uses it for a wide variety of things, including smooth brain function, hormones, vibrant skin, and mood regulation.
About 15% of Americans are deficient in vitamin B12 and another 20% are borderline deficient . You don’t want to be in either category. Let’s talk about why it’s so important to get plenty of vitamin B12 and take a look at the best vitamin B12 sources.
Vitamin B12 for mood and brain function
Vitamin B12 is, first and foremost, a brain nutrient. B12 gets the nickname “the energy vitamin” for a reason: you use B12 to create neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and insulate your neurons, making sure that your brain runs smoothly and you have plenty of focus and mental energy.
Vitamin B12 is essential for making :
– Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls your mood. Antidepressants often boost serotonin.
– Dopamine, another neurotransmitter which controls motivation and feelings of enjoyment.
– Melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.
With B12 as an essential ingredient in neurotransmitters that regulate mood and motivation, it’s no surprise that depression, lethargy, decreased brain function, and impaired memory are all major signs of B12 deficiency .
On the other hand, balancing your B12 levels improves mood, protects your brain from stress-related damage, increases motivation and energy, and even eases anxiety [3,4].
Vitamin B12 to balance your hormones
Vitamin B12 is also an integral part of methylation, a process your liver uses to break down cellular waste products and excess hormones. If you have low B12, you may not be methylating properly; a compound called homocysteine can build up in your blood, throwing your estrogen levels out of balance and contributing to fatigue, mood swings, inflammation, and cardiovascular health .
B12 also influences your ability to make melatonin, a hormone that regulates deep sleep and triggers nighttime repair mechanisms. Speaking of…
Vitamin B12 for deeper sleep
Shift workers who took vitamin B12 got significantly deeper sleep and had to sleep for less time , possibly because B12 helped balance their melatonin production and reset their sleep-wake cycle.
Another study in healthy people found similar results: B12 increased daytime alertness and improved sleep quality, while decreasing time asleep . The researchers concluded that it was thanks to B12 supporting melatonin production. They also noted that only one form of B12, methylcobalamin, increased daytime alertness, and that it had more benefits than other B12 supplements. Speaking of which…
Methylcobalamin is the best form of vitamin B12 supplement
If you’re going to take B12, choose supplement that uses methylcobalamin (also called methyl-B12).
Methylcobalamin is the best vitamin B12 supplement. It has better bioavailability than cyanocobalamin, the most common form of B12, and methylcobalamin is much easier to assimilate for the 40% of the population that has MTHFR gene mutations (this video explains how MTHFR affects your health and happiness, and what to do about it) .
It also seems methylcobalamin gives you benefits that other forms do not, like the increased daytime alertness in the study you read about a moment ago .
B12 sources: where to get methylcobalamin
The easiest way to get methylcobalamin is in supplement form. East-West Boost contains a spectrum of B vitamins, including B12, in the ideal amounts and most bioavailable forms. It also has methylfolate, which works alongside vitamin B12 to support and protect your brain . You want to make sure you balance B12 and folate; they use each other up, so a deficiency in one will throw the other out of balance as well.
If you don’t want to take a supplement, you can get your B12 (as methylcobalamin) from food sources.
– Grass-fed beef liver is the richest source of B12.
– Oysters, mussels, clams, and other shellfish are a decent source of B12 as well.
– Grass-fed beef has moderate B12, although perhaps not quite enough to get as much as your body needs. You’re best off including grass-fed liver in your diet a couple times a week.
However you get your B12, make sure that this potent vitamin is always in good supply. Your brain and hormones will thank you for it.