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This Vitamin Boosts your Brains Health and Fatigue, According to Dietitians

Vitamin B12 is a key input to a well-functioning body. While there are many vitamins and minerals that are crucial to our daily wellbeing, B12 may stand out—after all, it's responsible for making DNA, keeping your body’s nerve cells healthy, and forming pink blood cells. And as a result, your physique will do its job in reminding you when you’re not quite living up to your vitamin B12 intake potential.

Here, we spoke with two top dietitians to better understand vitamin B12 benefits and how much your body needs.

The key vitamin B12 benefits

Vitamin B12 is central to a wide range of your body’s critical functions. “Vitamin B12 is needed for nerve system functioning, blood cell formation, and DNA synthesis,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RDN. “B12 is additionally involved in producing neurotransmitters that affect your mood, which may be why some research suggests that vitamin B12 may be helpful for people prone to depression.” That said, Cassetty notes, these linkages haven’t been solidly established, so be sure to check with your doctor before trying any home remedies for depression or other psychological concerns.

1. It can boost brain health and improve cognitive functioning.

Upping your B12 intake has been shown to help protect your neurological health. “Studies show that having low levels of B12 may damage cognitive health by accelerating neuron loss and negatively affecting brain function,” Kubala says. “In fact, even low-normal B12 levels may lead to poor cognition.” One study of people with early-stage dementia additionally showed that a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids helped slowed mental decline.

2. B12 can up your energy levels.

Vitamin B12 can also assist reduce fatigue and increase your energy levels, Kubala says. But before you start popping them like candy in place of coffee, note that all B vitamins play an important role in your body’s energy production, though they don’t always provide energy themselves. Vitamin B12's specific impact on energy has only been proven with folks who are deficient in the essential vitamin or have low levels of it—so if you’re good on B12, taking supplements likely won’t provide you the added energy boost you’re looking for.

3. It could help with your mood and mental health.

Kubala agrees with Cassetty's take on B12 for mood-boosting benefits. “Research shows that having low to low-normal levels of B12 increases the risk for depression,” Kubala says. "B12 may improve symptoms of depression and different mood disorders such as anxiety, especially in those with B12 deficiency or who have low-normal B12 levels.”

How much vitamin B12 should I be consuming a day?

“The encouraged dietary allowance—RDA—for B12 is 2.4 micrograms [mcg] per day,” says Keri Gans, RDN. Note that this is the average recommendation for adults, and there are some variants in recommendation based on gender and health status. For example, for those who are pregnant, Cassetty says that the RDA increases to 2.6 micrograms, and for those breastfeeding, it is 2.8 micrograms. You should check with a doctor or dietitian for your own recommended intake.

Originally published: Well+Good

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