Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, provides a plethora of health benefits that help to maintain a healthy heart. It can improve blood circulation levels, reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke, and prevent other cardiovascular problems.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin just like other B-vitamins. It dissolves in water and can easily travel through the bloodstream.
Although this nutrient is essential for your body, it needs to be taken as an external supplement because the body cannot produce it.
Animal products, especially meat, contain high sources of Vitamin B12, however, people who are are vegetarians can consume the Vitamin B12 supplement in the form of pills or injections. According to doctors, the human body is capable of storing Vitamin B12 for up to four years.
Which Foods Are the Sources of Vitamin B12?
As mentioned, vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products. It is not easily found in plant products. Some of the best dietary sources of Vitamin B12 are-
- Fish- tuna and haddock
- Dairy products- milk, cheese, and yogurt
Other sources rich in vitamin B12 are shellfish with a portion of clams and crab mussels.
A serving of chicken or turkey may account for 15% to 40% of your daily recommended intake.
To increase the intake of vitamin B12, avoid red meat, as it is high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Plus, it can cause extra fat to collect on the walls of your arteries.
It is vital to maintain a balanced diet to get a sufficient supply of healthy nutrients for your body. Deficiencies of Vitamin B12 can have major side effects on your health.
How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need on Average?
The National Institutes of Health in the United States, have recommended that people above the age of 14 years should consume at least 2.4 micrograms(mcg) of Vitamin B12 for heart daily.
Pregnant women must take a daily intake of 2.6 mcg while lactating women should take 2.8 mcg.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B12 for Heart and Arteries?
Vitamin B12 is necessary for the healthy functioning of the body. It helps in the formation of new red blood cells, aiding blood circulation and providing oxygen to vital organs. It keeps the homocysteine levels low to reduce the risk of heart disease and also keeps the arteries pliable. Some of the major benefits of Vitamin B12 for your heart are:
- Lowers Homocysteine Levels
Homocysteine is a type of amino acid that affects your heart health. If your body has a deficiency of vitamin B12, then your homocysteine levels would be elevated. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was revealed that people with high levels of homocysteine were at a greater risk of heart diseases.
When your body has an adequate amount of vitamin B12 along with other B-vitamins, the homocysteine levels remain moderated.
- Improved Arterial Health
It is often believed that those following a vegan diet are healthier than non-vegetarians. This is only one half of the truth. Vegetarians usually have a low LDL and total cholesterol level in contrast to meat lovers. This might reduce the risk of heart problems. However, vegans may not necessarily have healthier arteries.
In 2011, a study published in Vascular Health and Risk Management compared two groups of people- vegan and omnivores.
A comparative study was conducted between 49 healthy vegans and 41 omnivores of the same age. It was found that the vegans had very low vitamin B12 levels and extremely poor brachial artery resistance or elasticity. The study attributed arterial stiffness in vegans due to vitamin B12 deficiency, suggesting that vitamin B12 can improve arterial health.
- Formation of New Red Blood Cells
An adequate amount of vitamin B12 in your daily diet can facilitate the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.
Healthy red blood cells are small in size and round. They become large and oval in case of vitamin B12 deficiency.
When your body is producing enough red blood cells, it quickens the flow of oxygen throughout the body and to the vital organs. This way the heart is pumped with sufficient oxygen to maintain its smooth functioning.
Risk Factors from Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A vitamin B12 deficiency can occur in anyone, but elderly people are at a greater risk. Deficiencies usually surface if you do not consume an adequate amount of vitamin B12 in your diet or your body is unable to absorb it from the food you eat.
People who are typically at risk of B12 deficiency are-
- Strict Vegetarians
- People taking long-term antacids for heartburn
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that one must consume through diet or vitamin b12 supplement. It is a catalyst for various health benefits, especially those related to cardiovascular functions. Maintaining a healthy diet containing vitamin B12 is crucial for good health.