Dark circles under your eyes significantly contribute to how other people perceive your health and age. Contrary to popular belief, dark circles usually are not a sign of exhaustion or serious illness, although they can make you feel older, unhealthy and tired. Dark circles have multiple causes, including genetic links. They affect both men and women, often starting in adulthood, although children can develop them also. Vitamin B-12 deficiency may play a role in the formation or accentuation of dark circles under your eyes. Consult with your doctor about potential causes and ways to help you get rid of dark eye circles.
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Causes of Dark Circles
There are a number of factors that contribute to causing the formation of dark circles underneath your eyes. The area around your eyes is covered by thin and delicate skin, which is filled with small blood vessels called capillaries. Blood sometimes leaks from these vessels, which degrades and discolors the overlying skin much like a bruise does. Heredity is a primary cause of dark circles because it dictates skin tone, including the degree of transparency, which can highlight the discoloration caused by the degradation of the hemoglobin within the leaked blood. Genes are also related to weakened capillaries in the tissue around your eyes. Other common causes of dark circles include allergies, anemia, overexposure to the sun, eczema and dietary and lifestyle factors. Tiredness may accentuate your dark circles because lack of sleep makes your skin pale and causes puffiness around your eyes, which can cast shadows.
Functions of B-12
Vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, is a large, complex molecule involved in metabolism, energy production, nerve function, cell division, brain function and the production of red blood cells in your bone marrow, according to “The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs.” A deficiency of B-12 leads to anemia, or lack of red cells, and reduced metabolic function, among other problems. Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen to your tissues and metabolism is necessary for energy production.
B-12 for Tiredness and Pale Skin
Common symptoms of anemia caused by a B-12 deficiency include tiredness and pale skin, explains the “Textbook for Functional Medicine.” As noted, pale skin and tiredness accentuate dark circles under your eyes. As such, B-12 deficiency does not seem to be a direct cause of dark circles, but may be a significant contributing factor. B-12 is found in meats, seafood and green leafy vegetables, but B-12 deficiency is often caused by an inability to absorb it from the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, B-12 injections or sublingual supplementation may be necessary.
B-12 sublingual supplements largely bypass the stomach and intestines because the vitamin gets absorbed by the thin mucosa underneath your tongue, albeit not very efficiently. Adults require between 2 and 3 micrograms of B-12 per day to avoid deficiency symptoms, but sublingual B-12 supplements are often at least 50 micrograms and sometimes as high as 500 micrograms so as to counteract the low absorption rates. As such, if you suspect that your dark eye circles are strongly related to B-12 deficiency, you should consider a B-12 injection from your doctor.