If you've ever had an energy drink later on in the day you'll quickly find out that diet can have a profound effect on sleep quality. We all know that vitamins and minerals are vital to our health but there's one vitamin in particular that's pivotal in energy production but could also be helpful for sleep.
Right now you're probably thinking of magnesium, zinc, melatonin or a myriad of herbs and tonics but no...
Introducing vitamin B12?
Yes that's right, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is very important when it comes to our wellbeing. It plays a role in producing red blood cells, supports DNA and helps maintain a healthy nervous system. It is a structurally complex vitamin and the only one to contain a metal ion, cobalt.
Those with low levels of vitamin B12 often experience a number of health conditions including depression, anemia, osteoporosis and sleep disturbances.
Given the importance of this vitamin, deficiency is actually quite common which can be attributable to either inadequate intake or an inability to absorb. Those following a plant-based diet are particularly vulnerable because vitamin B12 is derived from animal foods, whereas vitamin B12 absorption is likely to affect older people.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Deficiencies of vitamin B12 can often be mistaken for other conditions as the symptoms are wide-ranging but they generally include:
- Tingling hands or feet
- Brain fog
- Low energy / weakness
- Swollen tongue
It's important to note that the only way to know whether you have a B12 deficiency is through a blood test with your health professional.
The Connection With Vitamin B12 & Sleep
Studies* have shown that supplementing with vitamin B12 helped patients with delayed sleep phase disorders in terms of bringing their sleep-wake cycles back into a normal range. They suggests that vitamin B12 could have potential impact over our circadian rhythm which is pivotal to restorative sleep.
On the topic of circadian rhythm, vitamin B12 works on the pineal gland, which is responsible for the production of melatonin which is an effective sleep aid. It is possible that a deficiency of B12 could lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
Also, higher levels of vitamin B12 have been connected to a lower risk of depression. Circadian rhythm disruptions are a significant underlying factor for depression. According to John Hopkins Medicine, depression and sleep problems are closely linked. People with insomnia, for example, may have a tenfold higher risk of developing depression than people who get a good night's sleep. And among people with depression, 75 percent have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Where To Get Vitamin B12
It's important to note that Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal-based products with unused B12 stored in the liver. With this in mind it’s no surprise that the number one source of the vitamin B12 is organ meat, with beef liver offering the best source. Other options include red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and milk.
Whole foods offer the most bio-available sources whereas processed foods are often fortified with B12, such as breakfast cereals, yeast spreads, soy-based products etc.
Other Important Nutrients For Better Sleep
Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of how Vitamin B12 can support quality sleep. Other vitamins such as D, E, C and B6 all have different roles to play and minerals, such as magnesium, zinc are also important.
Beef liver and organs are particularly rich in B-vitamins, and are also rich in minerals, including magnesium and zinc. These are the building blocks required to support optimal energy while also supporting sleep. They also come packed as nature intended in a whole food animal-based source that are generally more bioavailable than plant-based or synthetic supplements.
*Reference: Sleep Facilitating Effects of Vitamin B12