Why is Vitamin B12 Important for Healthy Brain Function?
Memory and Focus
When considering what functions represent a healthy brain, quick-thinking, memory, or focus may come to mind. It is true that healthy levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to all of these things. Vitamin B12 is also necessary for proper nerve function, and the brain and nervous system work closely together. The myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells is responsible for how quickly signals
move through your brain, and vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining the strength of the myelin sheath.
Therefore, maintaining a consistent amount of vitamin B12 in your body will increase the speed of your thinking, aid memory, and increase focus.
Formation of Blood Cells
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells. When you have a deficiency of vitamin B12, red blood cells tend to be large and oval, as opposed to healthy blood cells which are small and round. When red blood cells are too large and irregular in shape, they cannot move readily through your bone marrow, causing anemia. In turn, when you are anemic, there aren’t enough red
blood cells to transport oxygen to your brain and other vital organs.
Sufficient levels of vitamin B12 also aid in the synthesizing and metabolizing of serotonin, a chemical produced naturally by your body that regulates mood. Therefore, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause a depressed mood or further lower the mood of those with chronic depression.
Many seniors diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s are in fact “only” B12-deficient and can make remarkable recoveries when their low B12 levels are addressed.
This misdiagnosis occurs because the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency closely mimic that of these diseases.
Both vitamin B12 injections and high doses of oral supplements have proven effective for treating people with these disorders.
There’s exciting evidence that a cocktail of B-complex vitamins may prevent and be useful for treating Alzheimer’s.
An Oxford University study found that taking vitamin B12 along with vitamins B6 and folic acid improved brain function and dramatically reduced brain shrinkage in the area of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s.
Mental Health Benefits of B12
But where vitamin B12 is really crucial is in keeping the brain and nervous system healthy and functioning optimally. B12 is needed for normal capacities in memory, focus, and concentration. Low B12 levels are associated with depression.
This makes sense when you consider that B12 is required for the formation of the mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Vitamin B12 can alleviate some of the symptoms of schizophrenia such as apathy, social withdrawal, and emotional in-expressiveness.
Some researchers believe the link between B12 deficiency and dementia and psychiatric disorders is so strong that patients with these conditions should have their B12 levels closely monitored for life.