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What makes Vitamin B12 so unique?

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Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in various physiological functions in the body. It is a member of the B-vitamin complex and is essential for the formation of red blood cells, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.


Key functions of vitamin B12 include:
  1. Red Blood Cell Formation: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. It works in conjunction with folate to support the synthesis of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood.
  2. Neurological Function: Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It plays a role in the maintenance of myelin, a protective covering around nerve fibers. Deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and difficulty with coordination.
  3. DNA Synthesis: Vitamin B12 is involved in DNA synthesis and cell division. It is particularly important for rapidly dividing cells, such as those found in bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Metabolism of Folate: Vitamin B12 helps activate folate (vitamin B9) to its active form, which is necessary for DNA synthesis and repair.
Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:
  • Animal products: Meat (particularly liver and kidney), fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Fortified foods: Some plant-based foods, such as certain cereals, plant-based milk alternatives, and nutritional yeast, may be fortified with vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is unique among the B-vitamins in that it is not found in significant amounts in plant-based foods. Therefore, individuals following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may be at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and should consider supplementation or consume fortified foods.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a condition known as pernicious anemia, characterized by fatigue, weakness, and pale or jaundiced skin. Neurological symptoms, such as difficulty walking and memory problems, can also occur.

Supplementation with vitamin B12 may be necessary for individuals with conditions that affect absorption, such as pernicious anemia, certain gastrointestinal disorders, or those who follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. As always, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation.

-- Written by Hala, founder of Dietapplements

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