Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin B12

September 3, 2019
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is essential for your body to function properly. Find out everything you need to know about this vitamin and the foods that contain it here!

Vitamin B12 is essential for your body because it helps your body perform several important processes. For example, it helps your body convert the food you eat into glucose. Your body needs glucose to transform food into energy.

Join us to discover everything you need to know about vitamin B12, also called cobalamin. We’ll tell you what it does, and we’ll also recommend some foods that provided it.

Keep reading to find out more!

All About Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is very important to the formation of blood cells, cell metabolism, nerve function, and DNA production. Also, it helps prevent megaloblastic anemia.

Discover: Iron Deficiency Anemia: Dietary Guidelines

1. Recommended daily dose

Vitamin B12 is very important for your body to function properly.

The amount of vitamin B12 you should take will depend on your age:

  • Babies should get between 0.4 and 0.5 mcg during their first year of life, and 0.9 mcg until they’re 3.
  • Children 3-8 should get 1.2 mcg, and 8-13 should take 1.8 mcg.
  • Kids 13-18 should get 2.4 mcg, and then the dose stays the same.
  • Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should get between 2.6 and 2.8 mcg respectively.

2. How your body absorbs vitamin B12

By eating foods rich in vitamin B12, your stomach acid separates it from the proteins it’s attached to. Then, cobalamin combines with a stomach protein to absorb into your body.

However, some people can’t produce this stomach protein, like those that suffer from pernicious anemia. Then, they usually have problems absorbing vitamin B12.

Even though it’s rare to have a cobalamin deficiency, it’s not impossible. People who suffer from it show symptoms like:

  • Feeling like pins and needles in their hands and feet,
  • Movement problems from damage to their peripheral nerve,
  • Pale or yellowish skin,
  • Extreme fatiguerelated to pernicious anemia,
  • Fast heartbeat,
  • Shortness of breath.

3. The benefits of cobalamin

Consuming vitamin B12 can help improve your mood and energy levels.

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that vitamin B12 is essential for your body to work and function properly.

Some of the most important benefits are:

  • It may decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • This vitamin helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
  • It prevents megaloblastic anemia. It does this by helping produce red blood cells properly.
  • B12 maintains bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Different studies have found that vitamin B12 deficiency could be related to low bone density.
  • It may reduce the risk of macular degeneration by decreasing homocysteine. Generally, high levels of this hormone are associated with this disease.
  • This vitamin can improve your mood. Research has found that cobalamin could help people that suffer from depression. In fact, cobalamin could even be a supplemental medication.
  • It improves memory.
  • B12 promotes the growth of hair and nails, in addition to promoting skin health. This is because of all the work this vitamin does with cell production.

Also read: 6 Diet Tips to Help You Prevent Osteoporosis

4. Foods rich in vitamin B12

This vitamin is in lots of different foods. Typically, it’s mainly animal products. Therefore, people that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Some of the main foods that contain this vitamin are:

  • Liver and kidney: These are the two cuts with the highest amount of B12, especially in lambs. In fact, lamb liver has 990% of the daily dose per 100 grams.
  • Clams: Not only do they have lots of B12, but they also have antioxidants and proteins.
  • Sardines: For every 150 grams, they have twice your daily dose of vitamin B12.
  • Fortified grains: Choose grains that are fortified with vitamin B12. Therefore, check the label before buying!
  • Tune: 100 grams of tuna provides 160% of the necessary daily dose.
  • Salmon: 180 grams of salmon have 80% of your daily value.

If you experience any of the symptoms of a deficiency that we mentioned, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. Remember, there’s no one better than a specialist to help you follow a proper and balanced diet.

  • NCBI. (2009). Maternal Vitamin B12 Status and Risk of Neural Tube Defects in a Population With High Neural Tube Defect Prevalence and No Folic Acid Fortification. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161975/
  • Mayo Clinic. Vitamina B12. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/drugs-supplements-vitamin-b12/art-20363663
  • NCBI. (2005). Low plasma vitamin B12 is associated with lower BMD: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15619681
  • NCBI. (2013). Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Treating Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856388/
  • NCBI. (2016). Vitamin B-12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26912492
  • NCBI. (2014). Genetic Associations with Plasma B12, B6, and Folate Levels in an Ischemic Stroke Population from the Vitamin Intervention for Stroke Prevention (VISP) Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25147783/