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Brain Injury and Vitamin B12: How This “Brain Vitamin” Can Speed Up Your Recovery

man with food rich in vitamin B12 for brain injury showing thumbs up

Vitamin B12 is one of the most important supplements you can take during brain injury recovery.

In fact, it may even help TBI patients regenerate neurons.

To learn more about the numerous benefits B12 can offer, read on.

Brain Injury and Vitamin B12

While all B vitamins are good for your brain, vitamin B12 may be the most critical.

That’s because vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the brain and nerve cells.

Specifically, B12 is used for the production and maintenance of myelin sheaths, an insulating layer of protein and fat that forms around your nerves. These sheaths protect the nerves of the central and peripheral nervous system and allow neural impulses to travel quickly and efficiently.

B12 also helps with the formation of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that transmit impulses between neurons.

Therefore, one of the main benefits of vitamin B12 is that it can help your brain and nerve cells to communicate easier with each other.

This means that B12 can help you improve cognitive function and processing speed after brain injury. But that’s not all this vitamin has to offer.

How Vitamin B12 Repairs the Brain After TBI

3-d illustration of nerve synapses being improved by vitamin B12

©iStock/Rost-9D

Besides boosting overall brain function, vitamin B12 also helps promote axonal growth after a traumatic brain injury.

Axons are the part of a neuron that connects it to other neurons. Think of them like bridges that allow neural messages to travel back and forth.  

Without axons, therefore, it would be impossible for any of the billions of neurons in your brain to communicate with each other.

In fact, one of the main causes of cognitive and physical decline after brain injury is axonal damage. If neurons can’t communicate, then the brain cannot function.

That’s why vitamin B12 is so crucial for brain injury patients. It can help repair damaged axons and even plays a role in regenerating nerve cells. This means it can promote a fuller recovery.

How to Get More Vitamin B12 In Your Diet

Since the body does not produce vitamin B12 naturally, you must get it from your diet.

B12 is found mostly in animal products. The following are a few good sources of B12.

1. Dairy products

milk, cheese, yogurt sitting on table. dairy products are great sources of vitamin B12 for brain injury

©iStock/nehopelon

Milk and other dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, are rich in vitamin B12.

For example, one cup of whole milk can give you 18% of the daily intake of B12, and one ounce of swiss cheese contains about 16%.

The body also absorbs vitamin B12 in dairy more efficiently than in eggs or fish, which makes it one of the best sources to use.

2. Eggs

Eggs are another great source of B vitamins, especially B12.

Two large eggs can supply you with 22% of the recommended daily dose of B12.

Egg yolks are particularly rich in a type of vitamin B12 that is easier for the body to absorb. Therefore, you should try to eat the entire egg if possible.

3. Trout

Rainbow trout are one of the richest sources of vitamin B and protein.

In fact, one serving of trout offers over 125% of the recommended daily intake of B12.

Plus, it can also give you over 1300 mg of omega 3 fatty acids, another crucial nutrient for TBI survivors. Omega 3 boosts the production of BDNF in the brain, which helps you regenerate new brain cells.

All of this makes trout one of the best foods for brain injury patients.

4. Liver

Animal livers are perhaps the foods with the highest natural levels of vitamin B12.

One 3.5 oz serving of lamb liver, for example, contains an astounding 1500% of the RDI for B12, and lamb kidneys contain about 1300.

Beef liver offers a little less than lamb does, but even it still contains about 990% of the recommended amount of B12.

Therefore, if your B12 levels are extremely low, animal livers are probably the best choice.

Other Sources of Vitamin B12

While animal products are the only natural sources of B12, there are other options for those who would prefer to avoid meat and dairy.

Fortified soy milk is an excellent vegan source of vitamin B12. In fact, one cup of soy milk can give you about 30% more B12 than dairy milk. Just make sure the bottle says that it is fortified because ordinary soy milk does not contain any B12.

You can also take supplements to help you increase your B12 intake. When choosing a B12 supplement, look for methylcobalamin. This type of B-12 is easier for your body to absorb and retain than other types of B-12.

Vitamin B12 and Brain Injury

Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient for preserving brain and nerve health, and can even help brain injury patients improve their cognitive function.

It is naturally found in many animal products, but supplements can also be a great source.

We hope this article inspires you to add more vitamin B12 to your diet and give your TBI recovery a helpful boost.

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