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What are the potential health benefits of vitamin B12?

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Quick Answer

Vitamin B-12 supplements may help boost mood, slow aging, address sleep disorders, treat depression and ease symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, according to WebMD. Some people also use vitamin B-12 supplements to treat gum disease, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease or liver disease.

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Full Answer

Vitamin B-12, when injected as a shot, is useful for treating pernicious anemia, explains WebMD. Pernicious anemia is a low red blood cell count caused by inadequate absorption of vitamin B-12. Taking vitamin B-12 orally or as a shot addresses a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Research has not shown vitamin B-12 supplements to be effective for treating sleep disorders or improving mental function, though some patients do take it for these purposes.

The typically recommended dose of vitamin B-12 is 1 to 25 micrograms taken once per day, according to WebMD. Those with pernicious anemia, however, may require as much as 300 to 10,000 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per day. Vitamin B-12 supplements are generally safe for most people, including pregnant women; however, pregnant women are advised to take no more than 2.6 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per day. Patients with Leber's disease should not take vitamin B-12 supplements, since doing so may harm the optic nerve. Those who have had coronary stents surgically inserted should not take vitamin B-12 in combination with vitamin B-6 and folate, as this may cause the arteries to narrow.

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