How much do you know about vitamin B12? Vitamin B12 is naturally found in some foods, added to other foods, and available as a medication and dietary supplement. This water-soluble vitamin is a real workhorse when it comes to supporting health.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 supports health on many levels including the production of red blood cells, proper brain and nerve function, mental focus and concentration, energy and endurance, and normal homocysteine levels for a healthy heart.1, 3 What many people may not know about vitamin B12 is that it also supports the immune system.
Research shows that vitamin B12 supports the activity of important cells within the immune system in particular natural killer (NK) cell function and T lymphocyte production.2 Vitamin B12 helps support a healthy, balanced immune response and if there is not enough vitamin B12 from the diet or dietary supplements, the immune system may not be getting the support it needs.3
What Foods Have Vitamin B12 in Them?
From a dietary standpoint, a good source of vitamin B12 is fortified nutritional yeast, as well as clams, salmon, and tuna.4 Beef liver has the highest amount of vitamin B12, and ground beef also contains B12.4
Unfortunately, absorption of this important nutrient can be an issue. For example, bioavailability of vitamin B12 is about three times higher in dairy products than in meat, fish, and protein, and absorption from dietary supplements is about 50% higher than from food.4
Here are the daily recommended dietary intakes for vitamin B12 for both women and men:5
1-3 years 0.9 mcg
9-13 years 1.8 mcg
14 years + 2.4 mcg
Women who are pregnant need 2.6 mcg and when lactating need 2.8 mcg.
B Ready with B-12!
It can be difficult to get enough vitamin B12 from diet alone, especially for older adults, individuals with gastrointestinal issues, vegetarians, and vegans.4 Because reduced absorption of vitamin B12 may be an issue, especially for those over age 50, the National Academy of Sciences recommends getting vitamin B12 through fortified food and/or dietary supplements.6
The active form of vitamin B12 is known as methylcobalamin, which is a superior, biologically active form of this valuable nutrient so be sure this is indicated on the label of the dietary supplement you choose. Be ready with vitamin B12, this valuable vitamin will help support immunity and so much more.
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- European Food Safety Authority. Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12 and red blood cell formation, cell division, energy-yielding metabolism, and function of the immune system. EFSA Journal. 2009;7(9):1223. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1223
- Maggini S, Pierre A, Calder PC. Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1531. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212925/?report=reader
- Mikkelsen K, Apostolopoulos V. Vitamin B12, folic acid, and the immune system. Nutrition and Immunity. 2019. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-16073-9_6#citeas
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2022;Dec 22. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
- Aslam M, Majeed S, Aslam S, Irfan J. Vitamins: key role players in boosting gup immune response—a mini review. Vitamins & Minerals. 2017;6:1. https://www.hilarispublisher.com/open-access/vitamins-key-role-players-in-boosting-up-immune-responsea-mini-review-2376-1318-1000153.pdf
- National Academy of Sciences. Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. National Academies Press (US). 1998;9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114302/?report=reader#_NBK114302_pubdet_