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What Does Vitamin B12 Do?

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. Since vitamin B12 contains cobalt, it is also known as cobalamin.

Some of vitamin B12's functions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, are as follows:

  • Vitamin B12 is an especially important vitamin for maintaining healthy nerve cells, and it aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body's genetic material.

  • Vitamin B12 also works closely with vitamin B9 (folate) to regulate the formation of red blood cells and to help iron function better in the body.

  • Folate and B12 work together to produce S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound involved in immune function and mood.

  • Vitamins B12, B6, and B9 work together to control blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease.
The major effect of a vitamin B12 deficiency is a rise in homocysteine levels. This toxic element can cause damage to the brain and the heart, and it may play a role in risk of Alzheimer's disease as well.

Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include fish, dairy products, eggs and organ meats such as liver. A diet rich in vitamin B12 is important for you to obtain and maintain optimal health.

Since vegetarians and vegans avoid animal products in their diet, it is important for them to take a quality vitamin B12 supplement on a daily basis.

Vitamin B12: Benefits, Sources, RDA, Deficiency
Vitamin B12: Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

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