The Importance Of Vitamin B12 And Its Relationship With Cobalt

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, and plays multiple roles in your body. The trace mineral cobalt is a key constituent of B12, hence this vitamin is also known as cobalamin.


B12 is required for the production and function of many diverse cells throughout the body, ranging from the brain, to blood, nervous system, and bone marrow. So this vitamin is crucial for optimum brain and nervous system function, and deficiency symptoms include poor memory and depression.

In the blood, B12 is a key element in the production of red blood cells, hence one deficiency symptom is fatigue, where there are insufficient red blood cells to supply oxygen to all the cells of the body.

B12 plays a vital metabolic role. It is involved in the metabolism of all food groups, especially the dietary fats, for energy production.

On a genetic level, B12 is a key factor in the production of RNA and DNA, on which our genetic blueprint is written.

Foods rich in B12

Animal protein contains the richest source of vitamin B12, especially liver. Many people turn their noses up at the thought of eating liver, but lambs liver is surprisingly tasty and tender, and can be eaten with grilled onions and mushrooms, with a side serving of vegetables to make a highly nutritious meal. Fish is also a rich source, especially canned anchovies and canned herrings.

Eggs are considered by some to be a good source, but they're not as effective as people think, due to a factor in eggs that inhibits B12 absorption. As with all vitamins and minerals, it's not simply the amount in foods that's important, it's the ease of absorption into the body and the body's ability to use it, known as bioavailability. Another prime example of amounts verses bioavailability is seaweed, which is very high in B12, but not in a form that can be easily absorbed and used by humans.

Dairy foods are a reasonably good source of B12, such as milk and cheese, which makes these good options for vegetarians.

Vegans struggle to get sufficient vitamin B12 from whole foods, so they need foods fortified with B12, such as fortified cereals. If you are a vegan, it's worth consulting your doctor about B12 supplements.


Alcoholics, vegans, the elderly, are three groups at risk of deficiency. Alcoholics are deficient because alcohol consumed in excess reduces the digestive system's ability to absorb B12. And the elderly are at risk because the richest sources of B12 are protein foods, and for the B12 to be released from protein the food needs to be broken down by gastric acid, which is not produced sufficiently in the elderly.

There is a malabsorption syndrome called pernicious anemia, which is another cause of B12 deficiency. This syndrome is an auto-immune disease in which the stomach's parietal cells are destroyed. These cells are responsible for producing intrinsic factor, which is needed for B12 absorption.

If there are two main messages to take away from this article, one would be to buy some lambs liver and make it a regular part of your diet. And if you're a vegan, stock up on cereals fortified with B12 and get your doctor's advice on B12 supplements.

Dominic Londesborough is a top Personal Trainer in London

By Dominic_Londesborough

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