Often overshadowed by its other counterparts, i.e., DHA and EPA, Vitamin B12 is believed to play a significant role in maintaining overall well-being. An intriguing aspect gaining scientific traction these days is the potential impact of Vitamin B12 on heart health.
Vitamin B12 is a water and fat-soluble vitamin. This characteristic has further added to its bioavailability. It is instrumental in nerve function, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis.
It is an essential vitamin that needs to be added to the diet. But what if you fall vitamin B12 deficient? Can vitamin B12 deficiency cause heart problems?
Well, it's a long debate that needs to be answered at all costs since life is at stake. This question is pertinent and compelling with heart disease reigning as a leading global cause of death.
In this blog post, we'll explore the intriguing relationship between Vitamin B12 deficiency and heart health, delving into the latest scientific studies illuminating this covert connection in our evolving understanding of the cardiovascular disease."
Vitamin B12 and Cardiovascular Health
Recent research highlights the potential link between vitamin B12 and its promising effect on cardiac health. This possible link can be rooted in the role of Vitamin B12 in maintaining homocysteine levels and preventing pernicious anemia.
You might have heard about the process of methylation. Vitamin B12 is responsible for the methylation of a more harmful amino acid, homocysteine, into a beneficial one, i.e., methionine. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in high levels of homocysteine, which is associated with chronic heart diseases.
This conversion process involves two essential B vitamins - Vitamin B12 and B6 and folic acid (Vitamin B9). Here's how it works:
- Vitamin B12 facilitates the transformation of homocysteine into methionine. This process, mediated by the enzyme methionine synthase, helps regulate homocysteine levels, reducing heart disease risk.
- The same reaction also generates S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound integral to immune function and mood balance.
Vitamin B12 is long known for its ability to promote red blood cell formation. When your body doesn't have enough Vitamin B12, it can lead to a type of anemia called pernicious anemia or Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
When Vitamin B12 levels are low, the produced red blood cells are larger than usual and can't divide properly. These abnormal cells, called megaloblasts, are too large to pass out of the bone marrow and into circulation.
As a result, there aren't enough red blood cells in the bloodstream to adequately supply the body with oxygen.
The heart must work on more blood pumping to compensate for oxygen scarcity. This can lead to an increased heart rate. Over time, the extra workload can cause the heart to enlarge and can lead to heart failure.
Scientific Evidence of Vitamin B12 and Cardiac Health
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the link between Vitamin B12 deficiency and heart health:
- The Framingham Offspring Study found that participants with the highest homocysteine levels were significantly more likely to have coronary heart disease and stroke.
- A 2017 review in BioMed Research International found that B-vitamin supplementation, including B12, lowered homocysteine levels and reduced stroke risk, although it did not significantly affect heart disease risk.
You can either source vitamin B12 through diet or get vitamin B12 supplementation such as CardioCan to promote cardiac health.
Consequences of Vitamin B12 Deficiency on Heart Health
Since vitamin B12 is scientifically proven to have a vasodilatory effect, vitamin B12 deficiency can compromise cardiac health and functioning. It has the following severe impacts on heart health.
Elevated heart rate
To compensate for the oxygen scarcity, your heart has to work the extra mile to retain overall well-being. This might create an undue strain on cardiac performance leading to elevated heart rate and increased pumping.
Enlarged heart or heart failure
The continuous struggle of the heart to pump more blood to suffice the oxygen needs of the body results in heart enlargement, a condition called hypertrophy.
Heart enlargement, or hypertrophy, can initially help the heart pump blood more forcefully. However, if the underlying issue (in this case, the Vitamin B12 deficiency and resulting anemia) is not addressed, this adaptation can eventually lead to heart failure.
Increased risk of blood clots
Vitamin B12 deficiency comes along with an increased level of homocysteine, a condition known as hyperhomocysteinemia. This condition results in more blood clotting resulting in heart stroke.
Some researchers have also unveiled that vitamin B12 deficiency interferes with Platelet production and function. This ultimately results in compromised blood clotting.
Increased Blood Pressure
In the case of B12 deficiency, elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with endothelial damage to the arteries, resulting in high blood pressure.
In addition, pernicious anemia also adds to the increased blood pressure to cater oxygen needs of the body.
Some studies also suggest the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on the Renin Angio-tensin system. It is a hormone that regulates blood flow.
Vitamin B12 and chest tightness
Chest tightness is an attribute of vitamin B12 deficiency. The lack of oxygen in vitamin B12 anemia requires the heart to do extra work to suffice the body’s oxygen needs. This condition leads to chest tightness and pain.
In addition, the rise of homocysteine levels also damages the arteries, leading to chest tightness in the long run.
Can a Vitamin B12 deficiency cause palpitations or irregular heart rhythms?
Vitamin B12 deficiency may result in increased heart pulse and irregular heart rhythms. This might be due to high homocysteine levels and anemia. However, various factors could trigger the same symptoms. So, it's better to have a healthcare consultation.
Frequently Answered Questions
How does Vitamin B12 deficiency affect cholesterol levels?
Vitamin B12 plays a significant role in nutrient metabolism and absorption. With low levels of vitamin B12, cholesterol metabolism gets impaired, resulting in LDL and triglyceride spikes. However, the exact mechanism of how vitamin B12 affects cholesterol levels is still yet to be determined.
What are the best sources of Vitamin B12 for heart health?
Vitamin B12 can be best sourced from animals. The most potent sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Dietary products (milk and yogurt)
- Egg Yolk
- Lean meat (chicken and turkey)
- Fish (salmon, tuna, and trout)
What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency that relate to heart health?
- Increases heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart enlargement
- Heart strokes
- Chest tightness
In a nutshell, vitamin B12 plays a significant role in maintaining heart health. Its deficiency can result in impaired cardiac functioning. Where more research is needed to conclude the more specific link between vitamin B12 and heart health, it is clear that keeping adequate vitamin b12 is critical. This could be made possible by taking a balanced diet or adding multivitamin supplementation. However, if you suspect any heart or chest pain issue, it's better to get an immediate checkup of the homocysteine and vitamin B12 levels.