Vitamin B12 deficiency: Have you been sleeping like this? Sign you’re lacking the vitamin

Vitamin B12 is important for brain function, supporting cardiovascular health including red blood cell formation, and in supporting DNA activity. When a person lacks in this essential vitamin a variety of worrying symptoms may ensue including a disturbance with your sleep-wake rhythm.

Several studies have demonstrated that vitamin B12 is involved in regulating sleep-wake cycles by helping to keep circadian rhythms in sync.

At the same time, the influence of B12 directly on sleep isn’t clear.

Some studies show a connection between low vitamin B12 and insomnia, while other studies show higher levels of Vitamin B12 are linked to sleep disruption and shorter sleep times.

In a study with the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 treatment for sleep-wake rhythm disorders was investigated.

The study noted: “Vitamin B12 was administered to two patients suffering for many years from different sleep-wake rhythm disorders.

“One patient was a 15-year-old blind girl suffering from a free-running sleep-wake rhythm.

“A daily dose of 1.5 mg of B12 was administered. Shortly thereafter, her sleep-wake rhythm was entrained and her 24-hour sleep-wake rhythm was maintained while she was on the medication.

“The other patient was a 55-year-old man suffering from delayed sleep phase syndrome for 18 years of age.

“After administration of VB12 at the daily doses of 1.5 mg, his sleep-wake rhythm disorder was improved.”

The study concluded that vitamin B12 supplements might help to improve sleep disorders.

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In another study published in Academia, treatment for sleep-wake rhythm disorders and vitamin B12 capsules was further investigated.

The study said: “The first report of using vitamin B12 for the sleep-wake rhythm disorder concerned a patient who had suffered from insomnia and headache for many years and who was diagnosed as having the hyper nychthemeral syndrome on the basis of his sleep diary.

“In addition, he had mild hypothyroidism.

“Given the reported high incidence of vitamin B12 deficiency in patients with thyroid disease, he decided to medicate himself with vitamin B12 capsules, which unexpectedly improved his sleep-wake rhythm disorder.”

What foods are rich in B12

Meat is the most naturally rich vitamin B12 food, beef liver is jam‐packed full of vitamin B12, with an 81g portion containing a whopping 67.3 micrograms of vitamin B12.

Second comes Sirloin steak, closely followed by a 0.5 fillet of salmon. Whilst this is great news for meat‐eaters, how can vegetarians and vegans consume these all‐important vitamins?

It’s essential that all vegan diets contain a reliable source of vitamin B12, this is also true for vegetarians that do not consume fish and eggs.

How to increase B12 consumption

The Vegan Society state that in over 60 years of vegan experimentation only vitamin B12 fortified foods and vitamin B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12 capable of supporting optimal health.

Vitamin B12 injections could be considered a convenient weekly supplement option for those wanting to achieve adequate intake.

Sophie Matthews, Specialist Dietitian from The Hospital Group states: “Only animal derived foods contain vitamin B12 therefore, if you follow a vegan diet you are more likely to become deficient in vitamin B12.”

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