Vitamin B12 is comprises a group of chemically related vitamers. Vitamin B12 contains the biochemically rare element cobalt and is one of 8 B vitamins in the same group. Nature is only capable of creating B12 through specific bacteria and algae, but the human body is capable of converting different forms of the vitamin for a number of key purposes.
One common form of vitamin B12, Cyanocobalamin, a synthetic form of Vitamin B12, doesn’t occur in nature but is used as a supplement and food additive due to its stability and cost effectiveness. Once ingested, cyanocobalamin is converted to the physiological forms methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, leaving the cyanide behind. Vitamin B12 is the most structurally complicated vitamin.
Sardines are a great source for Vitamin B12. Also innards such as liver and kidneys contain a high vitamin B12 amount.
Vitamin B12: Functions in the Human Body
- Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system and the brain.
- It is required for the formation of blood.
- Vitamin B is involved in fatty acid synthesis and the production of energy.
- The vitamin is needed for the metabolism of all cells.
Vitamin B was discovered because of its relationship with the autoimmune disease pernicious anemia, which destroys the parietal cells that secrete intrinsic factor in the stomach. Intrinsic factor is vital for the absorption of B12, and thus pernicious anemia causes B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12: Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
The vitamin B12 RDI for adults ranges from 2 to 3 µg per day. The RDI for vitamin B12 in pregnant women is 2.6 µg per day and 2.8 µg during lactation period. It is recommended that vegans and vegetarians either consistently eat foods fortified with B12 or take a daily or weekly B12 supplement.
Vitamin B12: Risk of Overdose
Vitamin B12 has very low toxicity and high doses will make little impact on the body. The effects on pregnant women taking above the RDI are undocumented, but in the interest of exercising precaution it is unadvisable. Allergic reactions to cobalt, cobalamin or other ingredients in vitamin B12 are extremely rare.