Vitamin B12

Vitamin B1 is effective against mosquito bites

The term vitamin B12 stands for several water-soluble compounds. Vitamin B12 has a complicated structure and contains the trace element cobalt. This is why this group of vitamins is also called cobalamins. Vitamin B12 is produced by microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract of animals.

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The vitamin helps the human body to ensure the functioning of several metabolic reactions. Hence, the body needs vitamin B12 for the activation of folic acid and for the forming of new cells as well as for cell division. The vitamin is also needed for the formation of new nerve fibers. Vitamin B12 provides some protection against heart and circulatory diseases. Therefore it is also referred to as heart-protection vitamin. If the homocysteine level is too high it can be reduced by the intake of vitamin B12. The body’s mucous membranes regenerate more easily if a sufficient amount of this vitamin is available.

  • Formation of new cells, good for cell division
  • Formation of new nerve fibers
  • Protects the heart
  • Improves circulation
  • Regenerates mucous membranes


The international Food Association recommends a dose of 3 µg vitamin B12 per day. However, the need for this vitamin varies a lot. Therefore, the adequate daily intake of vitamin B12 is between 5-15 µg. Even though the human body can produce the vitamin itself, it is not always able to be optimally absorbed by the intestine.

This is especially true for elderly people (over 60 years) as well as for patients with gastrointestinal diseases. Strict vegetarians as well as diabetics and patients with disorders of the pancreas require a regular supply of vitamin B12. However, pregnant women require a higher dosage. Smokers, people with much stress in their job as well as athletes and growing children also need to take more vitamin B12.

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All animal food products contain vitamin B12. The consumption of 100 g ready-to-eat cheese and dairy products as well as eggs covers 15 per cent of the daily nutritional requirements. The vitamin B12 level in fish and meat, however, varies greatly. Giblets like liver, heart and kidneys are particularly rich in vitamin B12. Herring, mackerel and tuna also contain a very high amount of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 only occurs in plant food when it has undergone fermentation and ripening process like e.g. sauerkraut and lactic fermented vegetables such as pickled gherkins. Beer and bread drink also contain a small amount of vitamin B12.


Deficiency symptoms often only become evident after many years. Symptoms manifest themselves by a disruption in the formation of blood cells. An increased homocysteine level as well as a low hemoglobin level can be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. Other symptoms may include susceptibility to infections, depressions, anxiety as well as weariness and tingling in hands and feet. Your liver can store up an approximate 12-year supply of this water-soluble vitamin.

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There is no reason to be afraid of an overdose of vitamin B12 because an excess is generally excreted from your body in urine.

A study: Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly