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Vitamin B12

I. What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins. In order to support bodily functions and to feel good, it is important to consume enough of it. In this article you will learn everything you need to know about vitamin B12 - from its definition and importance, its functions in the body and its sources, to the symptoms and consequences of a deficiency, as well as diagnosis and treatment. Read on to learn more about vitamin B12!

a. definition and meaning

Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that our body cannot synthesize itself, so it must be obtained from food. It is an important part of the human body and takes part in various metabolic processes that are necessary for the functioning of the nervous system, the immune system and energy metabolism.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that if overdosed, it can easily be excreted in the urine. The vitamin is formed by microorganisms and is mainly found in animal products such as eggs, milk and meat.

Vitamin B12 is needed to maintain DNA synthesis and the body's energy balance. The main functions of the vitamin in the body include blood formation, regulating cell growth and cell division, lowering homocysteine ​​levels, supporting the immune system and supporting the nervous system.

b. forms of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 comes in different forms. The most common form is cyanocobalamin, a synthetic form most commonly used in dietary supplements. It's also found in foods naturally rich in B12, such as fish, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and seaweed. Other forms of vitamin B12 include adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin.

Adenosylcobalamin is the most active form of vitamin B12 in our body. It is a cofactor in the production of coenzyme A and is required for the synthesis of myelin.

Methylcobalamin is the most active form of the vitamin in the blood and is also found in foods containing B12. It is a cofactor in homocysteine ​​synthesis and is required for the enzymatic activity of methionine synthase.

Another form is hydroxocobalamin. This form is also given as a vitamin B12 injection, but is not found in food. It is mainly used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency and other anemias.

c. functions in the body

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that the body needs to function normally. It is an important factor in overall health as it performs a variety of important functions in the body.

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in building and maintaining all body cells, especially in the formation of red blood cells. It contributes to the regulation of carbohydrate, fat and energy metabolism through the biotransformation of amino acids , carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA molecules, which are necessary for the growth and development of cells and the breakdown of cellular waste. In addition, the vitamin helps control the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which in turn are important for the proper functioning of the nervous system, brain and psyche.

Vitamin B12 is also involved in immune system function because it plays a role in the production and function of various immune cells that help fight infection. It also helps reduce inflammation associated with certain diseases. In addition, vitamin B12 may help relieve chronic fatigue and stress, improve focus and memory, and stabilize mood.

i.e. daily requirement

The daily requirement of vitamin B12 is influenced by various factors such as age, gender, dietary habits and other medical conditions. Therefore, it is important to determine your personal needs to ensure a healthy diet.

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily dose of 4 µg per day from the age of 13. While children under the age of 13 have a lower requirement of between 1.5-3.5 µg, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume 4.5 or 5.5 µg of vitamin B12 per day.

II. Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in many foods such as B. in fish, meat, milk, eggs, poultry and dairy products. It is produced by microorganisms such as B. Bacteria are formed and is therefore also found in some vegan and vegetarian foods such as algae and certain fungi. In addition, dietary supplements can support the supply of vitamin B12.

a. Animal Sources

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods, as most animals produce vitamin B12 naturally. Good animal sources include:

  • Liver: It is one of the richest sources and also contains other valuable nutrients such as iron, zinc , vitamin A and coenzyme Q10 .
  • Beef brisket: This is also a highly nutritious source that also contains other nutrients such as vitamin A , selenium, and zinc .
  • Fish: Tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring are some of the healthiest types of fish.
  • eggs
  • Poultry: such as chicken breast, turkey, duck and goose.
  • Dairy products: such as milk, yogurt, cheese and buttermilk
  • Crustaceans: such as mussels, shrimp and crab contain other nutrients in addition to B12, such as selenium, zinc, vitamin A and protein.

b. Vegetable sources

Vitamin B12 is essential for the human body but poses a particular problem for vegans and vegetarians as it is mainly found in animal products. However, there is also a wealth of plant-based foods that contain vitamin B12, such as: B. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. Depending on the ripening time, all three contain a relatively high content of vitamin B12.

Some brownish seaweed, particularly wakame and nori, are also good sources of vitamin B12. Available in powder , tablets , or sheets, these seaweeds can be used in many Asian dishes. Green algae like chlorella and spirulina also contain relatively high amounts of B12.

Some vegan and vegetarian products available in supermarkets are also fortified with vitamin B12, e.g. B. some types of cereals, bread and milk. These products usually contain synthetic vitamin B12, which is easily absorbed by the body.

c. supplements

Vitamin B12 supplements are available in many forms. Some examples are tablets, liquids, powders and nasal sprays. Vitamin B12 tablets often contain rapidly absorbable forms of the vitamin such as cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Liquids are often used in combination with other vitamins, while vitamin B12 powders are a good source of the vitamin but are not absorbed as well as pills or liquids. Nasal sprays are also an option, but it's important to note that they aren't suitable for everyone or work for everyone right away.

III. Risk groups for vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency may be more common in certain populations than others. These groups include:

  • People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet
  • People with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis
  • People who take certain medications
  • People suffering from gastrointestinal diseases
  • people over 50 years of age

a. vegetarians and vegans

Those on a vegetarian or vegan diet are at an increased risk of developing B12 deficiency as they struggle to get enough vitamin B12 from food. Although some vegan foods also contain vitamin B12, the concentration in these is so low that an adequate supply of B12 through food alone is almost impossible for a vegan or vegetarian diet.

b. People with gastrointestinal diseases

People with gastrointestinal diseases (have a higher risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. An auxiliary substance formed in the gastric mucosa, the so-called intrinsic factor, is necessary for the absorption of B12. In the case of stomach diseases, through operations or through ingestion Certain medications can reduce or even prevent the formation of this excipient.

In people with celiac disease, a deficiency can be caused by an underactive pancreas. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the intestinal mucosa degenerates and the ability to absorb vitamin B12 is reduced.

c. Elderly people

Vitamin B12 intake is particularly important for people over the age of 65, as they have an increased risk of developing a deficiency. This is due to a number of age-related factors, e.g. B. the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food decreases with age.

IV. Symptoms and consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency

A lack of vitamin B12 often only becomes noticeable after years, as the vitamin is stored in the liver in amounts of 2 mg to 5 mg. If persistent signs of insufficient vitamin B12 intake become noticeable, they should always be taken seriously and checked out by a doctor to prevent serious health consequences.

a. Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency

One of the first signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency is an inability to concentrate. This is often described as confusion. Many people also report feeling tired, dizzy, or light-headed for short periods of time. Increased tiredness and exhaustion, weakness and depressive moods can also be signs of a B12 deficiency.

Another common sign of vitamin B12 deficiency is persistent itching or burning of the skin . The skin may also be more sensitive to touch.

The last common clue to vitamin B12 deficiency is a change in taste or smell. Many people with vitamin B12 deficiency report that their sense of taste is altered or that they have a bitter or metallic taste in their mouth. The sense of smell can also be impaired; some people report smelling things that aren't there.

b. Consequences of a vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a number of health problems. Prolonged deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, anemia and immune deficiency. If not treated in time, it can even lead to irreversible neurological damage and severe nerve dysfunction.

A B12 deficiency can also lead to a reduced efficiency of the blood cells and thus to anemia. Anemia means that there are not enough red blood cells in the blood, causing the oxygen levels in the bloodstream to drop. Anemia can also lead to headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and decreased ability to concentrate.

In addition, an undersupply of vitamin B12 can impair the immune system . Since vitamin B12 is important for the maintenance and function of immune cells, a deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system. This can make colds and flu more common.

Vitamin B12 can also impair neurological functions such as B. damage to nerve fibers, muscle spasms, paralysis, numbness, impaired balance and memory loss.

V. Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected by various blood tests. These include measuring the level of vitamin B12 in the blood, a blood clotting (PT) test, and a blood test for folate. Doctors may also do a bone marrow biopsy to determine levels of vitamin B12 in the bone marrow. If the results of the blood test indicate a deficiency, the doctor can recommend various treatment options. The most common treatment is regular intake of vitamin B12 supplements. In severe cases, vitamin B12 injections may also be prescribed. In some cases, high-dose therapy with vitamin B12 is also recommended.

a. diagnosis

In order to confirm the diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency, the doctor must first collect information about the patient's health and past dietary habits. Then a series of tests are done to measure the levels of vitamin B12 in the blood. This includes a serum methylmalonic acid and a homocysteine ​​test as well as a blood test to determine the serum vitamin B12 level.

The doctor may also do a test to measure thyroid hormone levels, thyroid antibodies, folic acid, and other vitamins that are important for vitamin B12 absorption. They may also do tests to check how the gastrointestinal tract is working, as certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as B. gastritis, which can affect the absorption of vitamin B12.

b. Treatment

Treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency depends on the cause. If there is an undersupply of vitamin B12 due to a diet or a lack of suitable foods, the diet must be changed. Vitamin B12 tablets, capsules or injections should be considered.

Vitamin B12 supplements such as tablets and capsules usually contain vitamin B12 hydrochloride or cobalamin. Tablets and capsules can be taken orally and are available in pharmacies and drugstores. They can therefore be taken by anyone without a doctor's prescription. Drinking vitamin B12 energy drinks can also help increase vitamin B12 levels.

Injections directly into the vein are another way to increase vitamin B12 levels. These injections are usually given by a healthcare professional and can be given directly into a vein or muscle. Injections are primarily given to people with nerve damage.

VI. Conclusion on vitamin B12

Now that we have gathered all the important information, we can conclude that vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the body. In order to function properly, the body needs sufficient vitamin B12.

a. Summary

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is vital to overall health and well-being. Since it is not manufactured by the human body itself, it must be obtained from food or in the form of dietary supplements.

The vitamin is required for numerous biological processes and is involved in energy metabolism, the processing of the neurotoxin homocysteine, the protection of the nervous system and blood formation. Vitamin B12 is also important for DNA synthesis and the production of brain chemicals.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a range of symptoms including fatigue, confusion, memory problems, muscle weakness, breathing problems, speech and swallowing difficulties, abnormal blood counts and nervous system problems. A deficiency can also lead to anemia.

Most people get enough vitamin B12 from food, but some can become deficient as they age or have certain health conditions. Therefore, it is important that people who are at risk of deficiency get enough vitamin B12.

b. Recommendations for the prevention and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a disease that is often underestimated and can have serious consequences. Since it is a lifelong condition that can only be corrected by taking vitamin B12 regularly, it is important to support the body in preventing and treating a deficiency.

The best way to prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency and its consequences is to take in a sufficient amount of the vitamin every day. Regular blood tests can help to diagnose a deficiency early and prevent a lifelong vitamin B12 undersupply.

Vitamin B12 can be absorbed in different ways. The most common sources are meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and vitamin B12 supplements. People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet should have their vitamin B12 levels checked regularly, as they have an increased risk of a deficiency due to the lack of animal protein.

Individuals suffering from a B12 deficiency should take additional measures in addition to regular intake to promote a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. This includes getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are also important for the functioning of the body.


What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

A lack of vitamin B12 can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, anemia, dizziness, confusion, depression, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, and problems with memory and concentration.

How is a vitamin B12 deficiency diagnosed?

A B12 deficiency can be detected by a blood test. The doctor examines the blood for vitamin B12 levels and the number of red blood cells. A low vitamin B12 level combined with a high red blood cell count can indicate a deficiency.

Can You Take Too Much Vitamin B12?

There are no known negative effects of too much vitamin B12 on the body. Because the vitamin is water soluble, excess B12 is easily excreted from the body.

How Much Vitamin B12 Should I Consume Daily?

The recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 varies depending on age and gender. In general, it is between 2.4 and 2.8 micrograms per day for adults. However, people over the age of 50, vegetarians or vegans, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat more.

Can vitamin B12 also be obtained from plant sources?

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products, plant foods contain little vitamin B12. However, some vegetarian and vegan products such as soy products and breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamin B12.

Which foods contain vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans?

For vegetarians and vegans, choosing foods fortified with vitamin B12 or using dietary supplements can be helpful. Some algae and fungi also contain vitamin B 12, but only in very small amounts

Can Vitamin B12 Deficiency Lead to Dementia in Older People?

A severe B12 deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and dementia. However, it is not clear whether a slight deficiency can lead to dementia. However, it is known that older people are at higher risk of B12 deficiency.

How can I have my vitamin B12 levels tested?

A blood test can determine the level of vitamin B12 in the body. If you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency or are at increased risk of deficiency, talk to your doctor about the possibility of a blood test.

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