Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a water soluble vitamin. It can only be absorbed in conjunction with intrinsic factor, a type of protein secreted by the stomach.
What does vitamin B12 do?
Vitamin B12 plays a key role in:
Together with vitamins B6 and B9, vitamin B12 helps prevent cardiovascular disease by limiting the formation of a sulfur-based amino acid that causes arterial and venous vascular accidents (homocysteine) in blood.
Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin B12:
|Age||Amount (µg* per day)|
|Infants||0 to 6 months||0,4µg**|
|7 to 12 months||0,5µg**|
|Children||1 to 3 years||0,9µg|
|4 to 8 years||1,2µg|
|Preteens||9 to 13 years||1,8µg|
|Teens||14 years and up||2,4µg|
|Pregnant women|| ||2,6µg|
|Nursing mothers|| ||2,8µg|
Source: www.passeportsante.net; Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline, 2000. This data reflects a consensus between Canadian and U.S. health authorities.
*µg = microgram = 1 millionth of a gram
**Due to a lack of sufficient scientific evidence, authorities have established adequate intake (AI) amounts rather than recommended dietary allowances (RDAs). The adequate intake for vitamin B12 is based on observed average intakes in North American babies in good health.
Vitamin B12 is naturally present mostly in foods of animal origin. Many processed foods are enriched with vitamin B12.
Food Sources for Vitamin B12:
|Foods||Portion Size||Vitamin B12 (µg*)|
|Tinned clams||100g (3½oz) (13 medium)||99µg|
|Cooked beef liver||100g (3½oz)||71µg to 83µg|
|Braised lamb, turkey, and veal testicles and liver||100g (3½oz)||37µg to 77µg|
|Clam and tomato cocktail||125ml (1/2 cup)||39µg|
|Boiled octopus||100g (3½oz)||36µg|
|Raw or steamed Pacific oysters||100g (3½oz) (2 to 4 medium)||16µg to 28µg|
|Sautéed or braised veal brains||100g (3½oz)||10µg to 21µg|
|Steamed crab||100g (3½oz)||7µg to 12µg|
|Grilled tuna||100g (3½oz)||11µg|
|Stewed poultry giblets||100g (3½oz)||9µg|
|Tinned sardines (bone-in)||100g (3½oz) (8 medium)||9µg|
|Tinned, baked, grilled, or smoked salmon||100g (3½oz)||4µg to 6µg|
|Baked or grilled rainbow trout||100g (3½oz)||5µg|
|Pickled herring||100g (3½oz)||5µg|
|Cooked beef and veal, all parts||100g (3½oz)||2µg to 4µg|
|Tinned tuna||100g (3½oz)||2µg to 4µg|
|Raw egg yolk||30g to 60g (2 to 4 yolks)||3µg|
|Baked swordfish||100g (3½oz)||2µg|
|Steamed shrimp||100g (3½oz)||2µg|
|Braised lamb, all parts||100g (3½oz)||2µg|
Source: www.passeportsanté.net; Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File, versions 2001b and 2005; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
*µg = microgram = 1 millionth of a gram
Vitamin B12 deficiency is difficult to diagnose as the body’s cobalamin reserves are quite high thanks to the liver, which retains them for long periods of time. The symptoms of deficiency may therefore take a number of months or even years to appear.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often caused by poor absorption. Because vitamin B12 must bond with intrinsic factor, which is secreted by the stomach, to be absorbed, it must first be separated via gastric acidity from food proteins. Vitamin B12 absorption is compromised if one of these two steps does not take place or is slowed down.
Particular care should be taken by:
Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency:
No harmful effects have been observed among healthy individuals who ingest excessive amounts of vitamin B12 through food or supplements. The low apparent toxicity of this vitamin may result from the fact that only a small amount of vitamin B12 is absorbed through the digestive tract, even when large doses are taken orally.
Signs of excess vitamin B12:
NOTE: Very high doses may aggravate acne.
Natural health products or vitamin supplements:
Speak with your pharmacist if you plan to take vitamin B12 supplements. Your pharmacist can help you choose the solution that’s best for you based on your health and any drugs you take.
Vitamin B12, Cobalamin