Vitamin B12: What is it? And How Does it Affect your Body?

Vitamin B12: What is it? And How Does it Affect your Body? - Source Biology

B12 is one of those vitamins many are familiar with, but might not know too much about. It's often talked about in the context of energy levels, and being low in B12 can lead to tiredness and other problems.

But what does B12 actually do? What exactly is it, and what are the benefits of taking this vitamin? Read through to find out.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B vitamins predominantly found in animal foods. It is also found in some fortified foods and in dietary supplements. Vitamin B12 is important for many body processes, including the production of red blood cells and DNA. It also helps keep the nervous system functioning properly.

Vitamin B12 is actually one of the most important vitamins for your overall health. Its benefits are clear, as discussed below.

Uses and Health Benefits of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B 12 is important for many different functions in the body. Here are the top uses and health benefits of Vitamin B12:

1. Energy production

If you’re feeling run down, you might need more B12. This water-soluble vitamin helps the body convert the food you eat into glucose, giving you energy.

2. Red blood cell formation

B12 is also necessary for the production of red blood cells. These cells are vital for carrying oxygen throughout your body. Without them, you would frequently feel fatigued and weak.

A deficiency of Vitamin B12 leads to decreased normal red blood cell production. This, in turn, can lead to a number of health problems, including anemia.

3. DNA synthesis

Your body needs vitamin B-12 to make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. DNA is what tells your cells how to grow and function.

4. Nerve function

Vitamin B12 has been found to inhibit apoptosis, or programmed cell death, of damaged neurons. Vitamin B12 also creates conditions for the recovery of nerve function and prevents or delays the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

5. Immune support

The red blood cells made with help of B12 are necessary for delivering oxygen throughout the body, including to the immune system.

A lack of Vitamin B12 can cause anemia, a body condition in which the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. This can leave the immune system struggling to get the oxygen it needs, making you more susceptible to infection.

Vitamin B12 Sources

Vitamin B12 has three main origins: natural sources, fortified foods, and supplements.

Natural Sources

Natural sources, which are typically animal foods, are the best source of vitamin B12. This includes meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Fish and shellfish also contain some vitamin B12. Plant foods do not generally contain vitamin B12, so vegans and vegetarians should consider the options below.

Fortified foods

Vitamin B12 is also added to other food products. Some foods fortified with varying amounts of vitamin B12 include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Dairy-free yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Spreads
  • Fruit juice

Dietary supplements

The water-soluble vitamin B12 is also available as a dietary supplement. It's mainly recommended for those who don’t eat meat or poultry, since animal-based foods are the best natural sources of B12.

As a supplement, Vitamin B12 is primarily available in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquids.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

It's a good thing that B12 is found in so many foods, like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. But if you don't eat any of these, or if there’s a problem in the absorption of the Vitamin in the body, then you might be at risk of a deficiency.

Symptoms of a B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, headaches, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and nerve problems. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor about getting tested.


B-12 is an important vitamin that keeps your body running like a well-oiled machine. Without it, you could start feeling run down and sluggish. A severe defficeincy could be even more serious. So always make sure you're getting enough o

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