Vitamin B12 is a popular supplement for many reasons. The benefits of vitamin B12 include increased energy, improvement in mood, weight loss and healthy hair and skin.
But this popular B vitamin may also play an important role in a bodily process that can affect our bodies in many different ways: Inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is defined as a natural response. When your body is stressed, injured in some way or ill, your body's inflammatory response is triggered by pattern recognition receptors (PRR) which help send more blood and plasma to the affected area. Immediate symptoms of inflammation include swelling, redness, pain or a warm feeling -- this is known as acute inflammation. The symptoms of acute inflammation only last a few days or so and are usually caused by an infection, irritant, trauma, allergic reaction or other injury.
Chronic inflammation occurs when these symptoms become constant. This condition can be caused by several things such as diet, lack of sleep or exercise, stress
, nerve damage
or even over-training. Age, obesity and smoking can also put you at risk for developing chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammatory diseases include arthritis
and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
. It can also lead to conditions like heart disease
and Alzheimer's disease
How Vitamin B12 Can Help
The main job of vitamin B12 is to increase energy production
. Your body uses fats and proteins as fuel and vitamin B12 helps to facilitate this process. Being deficient in this vitamin can make you feel fatigued, short of breath or experience a tingling sensation in your limbs. Vitamin B12 can help relieve inflammation in the joints by attaching to proteins and preventing them from carrying white blood cells that release chemical agents responsible for inflammatory symptoms like swelling and pain, called cytokines. The Framingham Osteoporosis Study, conducted at Tufts University, also concluded that vitamin B12 deficiency can also be linked to preventing bone loss that can result in fracture. Vitamin B12 was also recommended by Dr. Mehmet Oz on the May 21 episode of "The Dr. Oz Show" as a possible way to help with chronic inflammation.
Taking vitamin B12 orally or applying topical treatments like creams containing it have also shown possible results for inflammatory conditions like IBS as well as eczema
. According to the British Journal of Dermatology
, participants who used a topical cream containing vitamin B12 saw improvements in their eczema over periods of two, four, six and eight weeks. The B12 inhibited the production of cytokines and trapped nitric oxide that can lead to symptoms.
Using Vitamin B12
Fish, poultry and dairy are natural sources of vitamin B12, but if you're concerned you're not getting enough in your diet, you can try a supplement.
There's virtually no risk of overdosing on vitamin B12 -- your body's able to get rid of any extra you take in. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 2.4 mcg (supplements can be as strong as 10,000 mcg) and injections are also available through a licensed practitioner. The additional benefits couldn't hurt either. Consult your doctor if you're currently being treated for inflammation to avoid any drug interactions. Don't stop taking your prescribed medications without first speaking to your doctor about your symptoms and concerns.
If you're experiencing chronic inflammation, you may be deficient in vitamin B12. So talk to your doctor and find out if adding a vitamin B12 supplement can help you find relief.