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Vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, is the largest and most complex vitamin currently known to man. A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B12 can only be manufactured by bacteria and can only be found naturally in animal products, however, synthetic forms are widely available and added to many foods like cereals .
A unique essential nutrient, vitamin B-12 isn’t produced by plants, animals, or even fungi, instead being produced only by certain bacteria. Human requirements for vitamin B-12 as set by the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) are 2-3 micrograms/mcg per day to upwards of 4-7 micrograms/mcg per day. [ 2 ] Naturally-occurring sources of Vitamin B-12 are found primarily in foods of animal origin and among fortified foods of vegetarian/vegan origin. If you are a practicing vegan, supplementation may be the best option for you to ensure you receive adequate to optimal daily intake.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Vitamin B12 exists in several forms and contains the mineral cobalt [ 1-4 ], so compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively called "cobalamins". Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 that are active in human metabolism [ 5 ].
If you are trying to maintain a proper diet, foods with vitamin B12 should be eaten. Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that is necessary in the body to help red blood cells function properly. Often times, vitamin B12 is attached to the protein that you get when you eat certain types of food. However, vitamin B12 can also be added synthetically to foods to help you get your recommended daily dosage of vitamin B12. Additionally, vitamin B12 is available as a supplement for those who do not get enough in their diet.