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Vitamin B12 sources, health benefits and uses

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by

Vitamin B12, also referred to as cobalamin, is part of the eightB complex vitamins. Like all B vitamins, it is water-soluble, which means that it dissolves in water and travels through the bloodstream. Vitamin B12 can be stored in the human body for up to four years. The excess or unwanted amounts of vitamin B12 are excreted through urine.

It is structurally the largest and most complicated vitamin. This vitamin can only be industrially produced through bacterial fermentation synthesis.

Cobalamin can be found naturally in animal products such as fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products. However, it is not typically found in plant foods. Vegans can take vitamin B12 dietary supplements to avoid deficiency.

Some types of soy milk, breakfast cereals, and some nutritional yeast products are fortified with vitamin B12.

Medicinal uses for vitamin B12

Cobalamin is used for treating pernicious anemia, a type of anemia that happens when stomach cells are not able to make intrinsic factor, thereby resulting in the body’s inability to absorb vitamin B12.

People who are concerned about heart disease should try to get enough B vitamins. Vitamin B12, like vitamins B9 (folate) and B6 (pyridoxine), helps lower homocysteine levels. Many studies suggested that people with high levels of homocysteine were almost two times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

A large study also found that women who took 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12, with 2,500 mcg of folic acid and 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin B6 daily, reduced the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that causes vision loss.

A symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue. Studies found that people with chronic fatigue symptoms might benefit from B12 injections.

Vitamin B12 works with folate in the body, so it may help reduce breast cancer risk. A study found that postmenopausal women who had the lowest amount of B12 in their diet had an increased risk for breast cancer.

Cobalamin improves male fertility. Sperm counts and sperms’ ability to swim may improve by taking vitamin B12 supplements, according to studies.

Body systems supported by vitamin B12

Cobalamin is good for the nervous system. It has a role in the prevention of disorders of brain development, mood disorders, and Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia in the elderly. It is useful in neuronal regeneration and it repairs the negative effects of ischemia on neurons. This vitamin also increases regeneration of axons. Supplementation of this vitamin also improves depressive symptoms. Vitamin B12 also helps improve sleeping patterns.

Methylcobalamin, a type of vitamin B12, is an anti-inflammatory agent. It suppresses cytokine production of T lymphocytes in cells.

This vitamin supports the integumentary system. It is good for the skin and is a new therapeutic option in treating atopic dermatitis.

Cobalamin has positive effects in pregnancy and lactation. A study suggests that oral cobalamin supplementation with 250 mg a day throughout pregnancy and early lactation elevates maternal, fetal, and breast milk vitamin B12 levels.

Where to learn more


Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that contributes to the successful synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the normal functioning of the nervous system, and the production of hemoglobin. It benefits skin, heart, and brain health.

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