Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in animal foods such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs. It's also found in some fortified plant-based foods like soy milk, breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast. Vitamin B12 is stored in the body in the liver and can last for months or even years.
Why is vitamin B12 important?
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. It's also important for a healthy nervous system because it protects the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material of all cells.
How much vitamin B12 does the body need every day?
The daily requirement of vitamin B12 depends on age, gender and state of health. According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), the recommended daily intake (RDA) is
- Infants up to 4 months: 0.4 micrograms (mcg)
- Infants from 4 to 12 months: 0.5 mcg
- Children 1 to 4 years: 1.0 mcg
- Children 4 to 7 years: 1.5 mcg
- Children 7 to 10 years: 2.0 mcg
- Adolescents and adults 10 years and older: 3.0 mcg
- Pregnant women: 4.0 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 4.5 mcg
It's important to note that older adults and people who follow a vegan diet are at a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. In these cases, supplementation may be recommended.
Which foods contain vitamin B12?
- Beef, liver and kidneys
- chicken liver and eggs
- Fish species such as salmon, tuna and mackerel
- milk, cheese and yoghurt
Fortified plant-based foods like soy milk, breakfast cereal, and nutritional yeast can also be a source of vitamin B12 .
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient needed for red blood cell formation, maintaining a healthy nervous system, and synthesizing DNA. The daily requirement of vitamin B12 depends on age, gender and state of health. It is particularly important for older people and people who eat a vegan diet to take in enough vitamin B12 with food. If you suspect a deficiency, talk to your doctor about possible supplementation.