With so many supplements on the market, it’s often hard to know which vitamin or mineral to choose for optimal health. Much has been written about the “rock star” vitamins C and E, but while you’re perusing the aisles of your local health food store, there’s another nutritional powerhouse that should not be neglected – vitamin B12.
Also known as cobalamin, B12 is an important vitamin that’s loaded with health benefits. In addition to keeping your nerves and red blood cells functioning properly, this water soluble nutrient is necessary for the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose for energy production, according to the medical community.
Research shows that this essential vitamin also helps reduce depression and stress, it’s vital for regulation of the nervous system, it helps maintain a healthy digestive system, and it guards against heart disease by lowering high cholesterol levels.1
Scientists say that elevated cholesterol levels can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Health professionals warn that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can result in a host of disorders, among them anemia, fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, depression, poor memory and vision problems.2 Cobalamin is found in animal and dairy sources such as meat, shellfish, milk, cheese and eggs. Because vegetarians and vegans do not consume animal products, they are at a greater risk for developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. Doctors advise people who don’t eat meat or dairy products, or who don’t get adequate amounts of B12 from their diet, to take supplements containing cobalamin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 71 million American adults have elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or the bad boy cholesterol. This waxy substance collects in the walls of the arteries, causing blockages. The CDC warns that having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. People with increased cholesterol levels have about twice the risk of developing heart disease as people with lower levels.3
Medical experts believe that vitamin B12 is beneficial for lowering high cholesterol levels. Not only has research shown that taking vitamin B12 supplements can reduce cholesterol levels, but it is also thought to provide additional cardiovascular health benefits, such as curbing the risk of developing atherosclerosis, a condition known as hardening and narrowing of the arteries.4
A Japanese study found that vitamin B12 administered intravenously significantly improved homocysteine levels and lipid profiles.5 Lipid profiles include total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the “good” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels. During the course of the three-month study, scientists evaluated 16 women and 21 men with end-stage renal disease, who had high serum levels of homocysteine (an amino acid marker for heart disease) and abnormal lipid profiles. The participants were given oral doses of vitamin B12 and folic acid per day during the first phase of the trial and intravenous doses of vitamin B12 every other day for the second phase. At the conclusion of the study, scientists reported amazing findings. The patients showed significantly lower serum homocysteine levels and reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased dramatically among the participants taking the vitamin B12 orally and intravenously.
This is good news for people who suffer from high cholesterol, but who are reluctant to take prescription medication for their condition. Speak to your general practitioner to determine if vitamin B12 supplements can be added to your cholesterol management program and, if so, the correct amounts to take. Vitamin B12 is generally considered safe if it is taken in amounts that do not exceed the recommended dietary allowance.6
High cholesterol is a serious disorder that can prove deadly if left untreated, according to the scientific community. Studies have shown that vitamin B12 supplementation can be a natural alternative to cholesterol-lowering medication, among its many other health benefits. When incorporated in a daily regimen that includes exercise, a balanced diet, plenty of fiber and quitting smoking, vitamin B12 can promote wellness and contribute to a healthy body.