In my early days of practicing medicine, people used to go to their doctor to get a vitamin B12 shot, and they felt dramatically better. In fact, people used to beg me for the shot.
The reason it worked is that many people are walking around with a deficiency. Yet, even today few doctors test patients for vitamin B12. As a result, many people have a deficit of this critical vitamin and don’t even know it.
What Is Vitamin B12?
This water-soluble vitamin is found primarily in meat products, including beef, poultry, fish, and eggs. You also get this important vitamin in dairy products, including yogurt, milk, and cheese.
Your entire body needs vitamin B12. It’s critical for brain function because it helps to support nerve function. It also protects your prostate by minimizing chromosomal breakage. Plus, every cell in your body needs vitamin B12 to synthesize fats and produce energy.
You also need vitamin B12 to generate red blood cells. Without enough vitamin B12, anemia can occur—which is why many of my patients with a vitamin B12 deficit felt dramatically better after getting a shot of this important vitamin.
Vitamin B12 and Heart Health
One of the biggest heart health benefits of vitamin B12 is that it helps to reduce harmful homocysteine levels in your body. Homocysteine is an ugly amino acid that causes your body to lay down sticky, artery-hardening platelets in blood vessels.
Some homocysteine is fine; your body is equipped to handle it. But excess homocysteine is like having a silent, asymptomatic killer lurking in your bloodstream.
Data from large and respected trials, including the Nurses' Health Study, have shown that daily consumption of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid helps to neutralize high homocysteine levels which is critical for heart health.
How Much Do You Need?
Our ability to absorb vitamin B12 diminishes with age. Plus, some medications, including cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, can deplete your body’s supply of vitamin B12. That’s why I recommend taking B-vitamins daily, including:
- Vitamin B12: 200-750 mcg daily
- Vitamin B6: 30-40 mg daily
- Folic Acid: 400-800 mcg of folic acid