What is vitamin B12 and what does it do?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps maintain the body’s nerve and blood cells healthful and helps make DNA, the genetic fabric in all cells. Vitamin B12 additionally helps stop a kind of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia that makes humans worn-out and weak.

Two steps are required for the physique to soak up nutrition B12 from food. First, hydrochloric acid in the belly separates nutrition B12 from the protein to which nutrition B12 is connected in food. After this, diet B12 combines with a protein made by way of the belly known as intrinsic thing and is absorbed by means of the body. Some human beings have pernicious anemia, a situation in which they can't make intrinsic factor. As a result, they have bother absorbing nutrition B12 from all ingredients and dietary supplements.

How plenty diet B12 do I need?

The quantity of nutrition B12 you want every day relies upon on your age. Average each day endorsed quantities for specific a while are listed under in micrograms (mcg):

Life Stage Recommended Amount

Birth to 6 months 0.4 mcg

Infants 7–12 months 0.5 mcg

Children 1–3 years 0.9 mcg

Children 4–8 years 1.2 mcg

Children 9–13 years 1.8 mcg

Teens 14–18 years 2.4 mcg

Adults 2.4 mcg

Pregnant young adults and women 2.6 mcg

Breastfeeding young adults and women 2.8 mcg

What ingredients supply diet B12?

Vitamin B12 is determined naturally in a vast range of animal ingredients and is delivered to some fortified foods. Plant ingredients have no diet B12 except they are fortified. You can get encouraged quantities of diet B12 by using consuming a range of meals which include the following:

Beef liver and clams, which are the fantastic sources of nutrition B12.

Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and different dairy products, which additionally comprise diet B12.

Some breakfast cereals, dietary yeasts and different meals merchandise that are fortified with diet B12. To locate out if diet B12 has been brought to a meals product, test the product labels.

What sorts of nutrition B12 dietary dietary supplements are available?

Vitamin B12 is observed in nearly all multivitamins. Dietary dietary supplements that comprise solely nutrition B12, or nutrition B12 with vitamins such as folic acid and different B vitamins, are additionally available. Check the Supplement Facts label to decide the quantity of nutrition B12 provided.

Vitamin B12 is additionally handy in sublingual types (which are dissolved below the tongue). There is no proof that sublingual varieties are higher absorbed than capsules that are swallowed.

A prescription structure of diet B12 can be administered as a shot. This is generally used to deal with nutrition B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is additionally on hand as a prescription medicine in a nasal gel shape that is sprayed into the nose.

Am I getting sufficient nutrition B12?

Most humans in the United States get adequate diet B12 from the meals they eat. But some human beings have bother absorbing diet B12 from food. As a result, nutrition B12 deficiency impacts between 1.5% and 15% of the public. Your physician can check your diet B12 stage to see if you have a deficiency.

Certain businesses may additionally no longer get ample nutrition B12 or have hassle absorbing it:

Many older adults, who do no longer have sufficient hydrochloric acid in their belly to take in the diet B12 naturally current in food. People over 50 have to get most of their diet B12 from fortified meals or dietary dietary supplements because, in most cases, their our bodies can take in diet B12 from these sources.

People with pernicious anemia whose our bodies do no longer make the intrinsic aspect wanted to take in diet B12. Doctors normally deal with pernicious anemia with nutrition B12 shots, even though very excessive oral doses of nutrition B12 would possibly additionally be effective.

People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac sickness or Crohn’s disease. These prerequisites can reduce the quantity of nutrition B12 that the physique can absorb.

Some human beings who devour little or no animal ingredients such as vegetarians and vegans. Only animal ingredients have nutrition B12 naturally. When pregnant girls and girls who breastfeed their toddlers are strict vegetarians or vegans, their toddlers would possibly additionally no longer get adequate nutrition B12.

What are some results of nutrition B12 on health?

Scientists are analyzing diet B12 to apprehend how it impacts health. Here are numerous examples of what this lookup has shown:

Heart disease

Vitamin B12 dietary supplements (along with folic acid and nutrition B6) do no longer minimize the danger of getting cardiovascular disease. Scientists had concept that these nutritional vitamins would possibly be useful due to the fact they minimize blood ranges of homocysteine, a compound linked to an accelerated threat of having a coronary heart assault or stroke.


As they get older, some humans increase dementia. These human beings frequently have excessive stages of homocysteine in the blood. Vitamin B12 (with folic acid and nutrition B6) can decrease homocysteine levels, however scientists don’t comprehend but whether or not these nutritional vitamins honestly assist forestall or deal with dementia.

Energy and athletic performance

Advertisements frequently promote diet B12 dietary supplements as a way to expand power or endurance. Except in humans with a diet B12 deficiency, no proof indicates that diet B12 dietary supplements extend power or enhance athletic performance.


This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by ODS of that product, service, or expert advice.

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