Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods. It is added to some foods, and it is available as a dietary supplement and also a prescription medication. Vitamin B12 exists in several forms and contains the mineral cobalt. The vitamin benefits are required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Any excess unneeded portion of this vitamin is eliminated from the body in the urine. The body can store vitamin B12 in the liver for years.
It may also be listed on labels or in articles as Adenosylcobalamin, aquocobalamin, cobalamin, cobrynamide, cyanocobalamin, cobamide, hydroxocobalamin, hydroxycyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and nitrotocobalamin.
Vitamin B12 is dependent upon a second substance, called intrinsic factor, to make its way from the the stomach and intestines into the rest of the body. Intrinsic factor is a unique protein made in the stomach and without it, vitamin B12 cannot gain access to the rest of the body where it is needed.
Who is at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency? People who are:
If you are on any of the above medications, please see your health professional and get your vitamin B12 levels checked.
People with pernicious anemia are often treated with injections of vitamin B12. Oral administration are sometimes used as an alternative to vitamin B12 injections. Everyone should include enough foods with vitamin B12 in their daily diet. Absorption of vitamin B12 is reduced with increasing age.
How do other nutrients interact with vitamin B12?
This page provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. I encourage you to talk to your health care professional about your use of dietary supplements and questions about what is best for your overall health.