The Connection between Vitamin B12 and Heart Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death in the United States in the twenty-first century thus far is heart disease.
Men have higher risk for heart disease, though women are by no means immune. Regular cardio exercise and foods such as garlic and grapes are well-known for their benefits for the heart.
However, a connection between vitamin B12 and heart health has also recently been established that could change the way people approach maintaining a healthy heart.
Vitamin B12 and heart health are closely linked because of the effect that vitamin B12 has on homocysteine levels in the blood.
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid found in blood. Homocysteine levels are determined by genetics and diet.
Although homocysteine is naturally found in the body, having too much in the blood can cause health complications such as:
• heart disease
• Alzheimer’s disease
• fatty build-ups in the arteries
• increased blood pressure
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin, is a vitamin naturally found in most animal-derived products. As such, most people who eat a balanced diet that includes products such as shellfish, red meat, and eggs get enough B12 from diet alone.
However, other groups such as vegans need vitamin B12 from alternate sources such as supplements.
Vitamin B12 is well-known for the role is plays in maintaining the nervous system, including regulating mood. For this reason vitamin B12 and depression are closely linked. B12 also aids in the production of red blood cells and breaking down homocysteine in the blood.
The Connection between Homocysteine and Vitamin B12
In a recent study conducted by the University of California at San Francisco, researchers sampled data regarding homocysteine levels of the U.S. population.
They found higher levels of homocysteine were indicators of increased risk for heart disease as compared to people with average or low levels of homocysteine.
In a follow-up study, random clinical trials were held to uncover the effect of vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 (known as folic acid) on homocysteine levels.
Researchers found that adding B9 to one’s diet can reduce homocysteine levels in the blood by up to 25 percent. Adding B12 can reduce homocysteine levels a further 7 percent.
These findings correlate with the trend in lower homocysteine levels that occurred as a result of the Food and Drug Association mandating that all enriched wheat products contain 140 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of wheat. This mandate was passed in 1998, after which a general drop in homocysteine levels across the population occurred.
Clearly, increased levels of vitamin B12 and its cousin vitamin B9 are linked to decreased levels of homocysteine because these two vitamins are necessary elements needed by the body in the process of breaking down homocysteine.
UCSF researchers project that if everyone added a 1 mg folic acid supplement and a 0.5 mg vitamin B12 supplement to their diet, there would be 310,000 fewer deaths from heart disease in the U.S. over a ten year period.
Vitamin B12 Supplements
Supplements of vitamin B12 are recommended for a variety of reasons such as preventing anemia and maintaining cognitive function.
Now that the link between vitamin B12 and heart health is more clearly understood, doctors may start recommending supplements as a low-cost preventative measure against heart disease.
Supplements come in a variety of forms. One method that is gaining in popularity is B12 injectable supplements. B12 injections are popular because they guarantee maximum absorption and therefore maximum benefit. By being administered via a shot, B12 can immediately be absorbed by the blood stream and begin breaking down homocysteine.
Maintaining heart health is an issue that concerns everyone, particularly those at high risk due to genetics and lifestyle factors.
Thankfully, there are small steps you can take that can have a huge impact on your overall well-being. Paying attention to vitamin B12 and heart health is just one way you and your heart can enjoy a healthier life. If you’d like to start taking better care of your heart, check out our impressive selection of vitamin injections—including vitamin B12.