All the foods that we eat can affect our bodies both physically and mentally. B vitamins are necessary for proper digestion, metabolism, growth, immune system and mental health. In particular, adequate vitamin B-12 intake is needed for healthy brain and neurological functioning. Without it, fatigue, sleeplessness and depression can develop over time.
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Functions of B-12
Vitamin B-12 is used by the body during all stages of growth and development. Because it is needed to help build DNA and red blood cells, it is essential during the first years of life. It is recommended that adults consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 each day. B-12 deficiency can occur from lack of B-12 intake , but is more common in those with digestive problems like gastritis or recent stomach resection.
Insomnia and B-12 Deficiency
B-12 deficiency can be linked to insomnia in several ways. Depression is a mental symptom of B-12 deficiency. According to PubMed, depression can be a major cause of secondary insomnia. Often, insomnia is the main reason those with depression seek medical attention. Vitamin B-12 also works closely in the body with the hormone melatonin. This hormone is responsible for regulating the circadian rhythms within our bodies. More specifically, it helps to regulate our sleep patterns. Vitamin B-12 also affects melatonin production -- high levels can increase your melatonin production, causing you to go to sleep sooner. Those with B-12 deficiencies may experience altered sleep patterns, difficulty falling asleep or lack of sleep.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency may not be obvious because the symptoms of deficiency can develop slowly over time and often go unnoticed. A symptom of vitamin B-12 deficiency is pernicious anemia -- a condition where the body can't make enough red blood cells because it lacks B-12. Other common symptoms include fatigue, physical weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, confusion, memory loss, poor balance, mouth soreness and tingling sensations in the hands and feet.
The most common form of treatment for vitamin B-12 deficiency is B-12 injections. Initially, injections are used to help restore proper vitamin status within the body and to resolve symptoms. Once sufficient levels are obtained, it is necessary to determine the cause of the vitamin deficiency. Dietary problems can be treated by including foods in the diet that are high in B-12, including clams, fortified breakfast cereals and certain types of fish. Animal food sources are the only dietary sources with significant vitamin B-12 content. Supplements can also be used to help increase vitamin B-12 intake. For those with problems absorbing vitamin B-12 from foods, injections may be continued in order to help maintain adequate B-12 levels within the body.