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Everyone hears about taking vitamins.  The question is, what do they help our bodies with? Last month I reviewed vitamin B6. Today I am reviewing vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 gets a lot attention.  Three important reasons why are: energy production and metabolism, helping regulate our mood and nervous system function and it is important in our DNA synthesis and red blood cell production. Let us review each one.

  1. Energy production and metabolism: Vitamin B12 is involved in the conversion of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy the body can utilize. This is particularly important for those who have an active lifestyle.
  2. Mood regulation and nervous system function: Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and is vital for the proper functioning of our nervous system. Vitamin B12 plays a role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine help regulate mood and overall mental well-being. A study published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (Penninx et al., 2000) found that low levels of vitamin B12 were associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms in older adults.
  3. DNA synthesis and red blood cell production: Vitamin B12 is extremely important in the synthesis of our DNA and cell division.  It also helps the formation of our red blood cells. Having adequate amounts of vitamin B12 is necessary to prevent anemia.  Not enough vitamin B12 can lead to megaloblastic anemia, which is a condition of abnormally large and immature red blood cells. 

Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include:

  • Beef liver
  • Clams
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Sardines
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Mussels
  • Crab
  • Nutritional Yeast

Incorporating foods high in vitamin B12 in your diet is beneficial. However, the amount of vitamin B12 someone needs depends on the individual.  The age, activity level and any health conditions.  If you have any concerns about your needs, please seek help from a healthcare professional.