2. May Prevent Major Birth Defects
Adequate vitamin B12 levels are crucial to a healthy pregnancy. Studies show that a fetus’s brain and nervous system require sufficient B12 levels from the mother to develop properly. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the beginning stages of pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.
One study found that women with vitamin B12 levels lower than 250 mg/dL were three times more likely to give birth to a child with birth defects, compared to those with adequate levels For women with a vitamin B12 deficiency and levels below 150 mg/dL the risk was five times higher, compared to women with levels above 400 mg/dL
How Much To Get?
The answer depends on things including your age, your eating habits and medical conditions, and what medications you take.
Depression Prevention and Treatment
Vitamin B12 plays a role in serotonin production, so a deficiency may be connected with clinical depression. Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration
Supplementing with vitamin B12 is believed to lower homocysteine in the bloodstream, which may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that can cause blindness in older adults. In one study of 5,000 women age 40 and up, those who took supplements of vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid had 34% fewer cases of macular degeneration after seven years than a placebo group.
If a woman has a vitamin B12 deficiency in the early stages of pregnancy, her child is at an increased risk of neural tube birth defects and low birthweight. Mothers with low B12 levels are also more likely to miscarry or give birth prematurely. Women with low levels of vitamin B12 are three times more likely to have a child with birth defects.
Brain atrophy, which refers to the loss of neurons in the brain, is associated with memory loss and dementia. In one randomized trial, older adults with early-stage dementia who were given vitamin B12 supplements to lower their blood homocysteine levels demonstrated a slower rate of cognitive and clinical decline. Another study found that low B12 levels, even within the normal range, contribute to poor memory performance.
It’s easy to see why people who have a B12 deficiency can suffer from symptoms of fatigue and weakness.