As part of the B vitamin complex, vitamin B12—also known as cobalamin due to its elemental cobalt makeup—contributes to your body’s natural energy production and other related biological processes.
B12 is the largest and most complex vitamin, which carries along a few important implications for human health.
Because of its large chemical structure, vitamin B12 is not as easily absorbed as other vitamins (like most other B vitamins).
Ironically, however, it can be stored in your body quite well (unlike most other B vitamins).
Vitamin B12 can be safely consumed in large doses, though, because excess is easily excreted or simply stored in your liver to be made available as needed when supplies run low. That excess B12 can last for up to a year in your body.
Vitamin B12 Benefits
B12 plays an important role in the formation of DNA. It’s also crucial to the processes that create healthy blood cells and keep your nervous system working properly.
Along with its role in red blood cell production, vitamin B12 also helps keep your overall cardiovascular system in check.
Even a small B12 deficiency can have serious consequences for your health.
Running low on this important B complex nutrient can lead to general fatigue, and long-term deficiencies can lead to even worse health concerns. Vegetarians and vegans who eat no animal products whatsoever, along with the elderly who absorb less vitamin B12 are the two most at-risk populations.
Why? It’s a matter of where natural vitamin B12 comes from...
What Foods Have Vitamin B12?
The challenge of consuming adequate amounts of vitamin B12 is finding the right foods that naturally provide this unique nutrient.
Plants can’t manufacture it. Animals can’t either.
Microorganisms—especially bacteria and fungi—are the only organisms definitively known to produce vitamin B12, which is why so many foods like cereals and breads are fortified with the nutrient.
For vegans and vegetarians, it’s especially difficult to get enough B12 without supplementation.
According to VeganHealth.org, “unlike animals, most, if not all, plants have no B12 requirement for any function, and therefore have no active mechanisms to produce or store B12. When B12 is found in them it can be due to contamination which is not reliable.”
The only plant found to provide any B12 activity in humans is chlorella, but even those findings may be due to contamination.
So where do we get our B12?
B12 comes almost exclusively from animal food sources like meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. If you’re looking to add more B12 to your daily diet, start with this list:
What foods that are high in Vitamin B12 do you regulary eat? What B12 rich foods might you adds to your diet?