A deficiency of vitamin B12 can manifest itself as depression, mania, chronic fatigue, poor sleep, lack of concentration and more. Without enough B12, our health and energy levels suffer. Because B12 plays a crucial role in turning carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy, it is necessary to have adequate levels of B12 to extract energy from the food we eat. B12 also protects brain cells and affects our state of mind.
What causes vitamin B12 deficiency?
B12 deficiency is often linked to vegetarian and vegan diets because foods that contain B12 (such as milk, eggs and liver) are not part of the meal plan. However, this is only one possible cause of a B12 deficiency. You may also be deficient in B12 if stomach acid levels are low, if your gut flora is imbalanced and if your intestinal lining is not functioning properly. As we age, our absorption of vitamin B12 diminishes, so the older we get the more likely we are to suffer from a deficiency.
The Importance of B12
Ignoring how B12 affects our moods is a grave mistake. One 2003 Finnish study noted that those with higher serum B12 levels were more likely to overcome depression. Other studies have verified the connection between depression and B12 deficiency.
The great thing about vitamin B12 is its balancing effect. It increases energy, but it also calms the system. One small study showed that while B12 injections shortened overall sleep time, quality of sleep and daytime alertness were improved.
Testing and Supplementation
Testing B12 levels may help you determine whether or not you have a deficiency, but it may not speak to whether or not you would benefit from supplementation. In 1975 at McGill University, researchers noted that patients showed great improvement in their symptoms when they received B12 therapy–even when their B12 levels tested within normal range.
For these reasons, a great many people may find that vitamin B12 therapy can restore their energy levels and improve their moods. Therapy may include oral supplementation (usually of the more bioavailable form of B12, methylcobalamin) or intravenous injections for those who have severe deficiencies.