Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) - What does it do? Where do I get it? How much do I need? What are the symptoms of deficiency?
vitamin b12 shellfish

Vitamin B12 Benefits and Funtion

What is Vitamin B12 good for?

Vitamin B12 is needed to form red blood cells and DNA. It is also a key player in the function and development of brain and nerve cells.

Vitamin B12, together with vitamins B6 and vitamin B9, is involved in the breakdown of a protein called homocysteine

High homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke as it may promote the formation of blood clots and excess free radical cells, and may impair normal blood vessel function. 

A lack of adequate vitamin B12 can increase homocysteine levels

If you choose to take Multivitamin supplement , make sure it includes vitamin B12.

VitaminB12 Food

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products and therefore it is essential for vegetarians and vegans to consume products that have been fortified with vitamin B12

The best sources include fish, shellfish, liver, and meat. Dairy products are also a great source of B12.

Recommended Daily Dose of Vitin B12

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for men and women ages 14 years and older is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily. 

For pregnant women, 2.6 µg is recommended and breastfeeding women should get at least 2.8 µg.

Too Much Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, so any unused amount will exit the body through the urine. The upper intake level is 1 mg a day.

Vitamin B12 Deficency

Most people get sufficient vitamin B12 from their diet. 

With age, it can become harder to absorb this vitamin. It can also happen if you have had weight loss surgery or another operation that removed part of your stomach, or if you drink heavily.

Who is at Risk of Vitamin B12Deficiency?

You might be at higher risk of deficiency if you don’t eat animal products or if you have any of the below conditions:

Vitamin B12 and Medication

Some medications can interfere with the absorption of B12. This includes some heartburn medicines, such as rabeprazole,  omeprazole,  esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and pantoprazole.

Same applies to some H2 blockers such as cimetidine, famotidine, and ranitidine. It is also known for certain diabetes medicines such as metformin.

Vitamin B12 Symptoms of Deficiency:

  • Reduction of blood cells in the blood, which again can be of larger size than normal. 
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Nerve damage with numbness, tingling in the hands and legs
  • Memory loss, confusion
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Seizures


As with any other medication, you should consult with your physician before starting taking any supplements. With vitamin B12 you might not be at risk of taking to high doses, but you might already be getting enough from your diet. Vegans inparticular should in general supplement vitamin B12 as main food sources are in animal products.

Read more about Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 and Health

Vitamin B12 Supplementation Study

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[…] Vitamin B12: B vitamins, especially vitamin B12 are important for energy and neurological function. Absorption of this key nutrient can decrease as you age, so look for at least 2.4mcg of vitamin B12 in your multivitamin. […]

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