foods high in vitamin b12 vegan
Medically reviewed by Sara Osman,RD,PT

Introduction

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that contains the mineral cobalt and hence also referred to as Cobalamin.

Vitamin b12 is readily available in foods of animal origin but not available in plant-based foods. However, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified nutritional yeasts are good sources of vitamin B12 that have high bioavailability [1].

Also, vitamin B12 has the largest and most complex chemical structure of all the vitamins.

  • Vitamin B12 is processed in the stomach and the small intestine before being released into the circulation and the liver takes up almost 50 per cent of circulating nutrient and the remainder is transported to other tissues [4,6].
  • Vitamin B12 bioavailability varies with foods and is 3 times higher in dairy products than in meat, fish and poultry [1].
  • Similarly, the bioavailability of vitamin B12 from dietary supplements is about 50% higher than that from food sources [1].
  • However, absorption rates decrease with 1–2 mcg vitamin B12 and doses higher than that [1,6].
  • Although vitamin b12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the body stores some amount of the nutrient in the liver, around 1 to 5 mg which could possibly last 3-5 years [1,5].
  • Significant amounts of cobalamin are also found in the kidneys [7].
  • In case of inadequate intake, the body uses the stored nutrient levels and it might take few years for deficiency symptoms to appear [1].
  • The excretion of vitamin B12 is proportional to body stores [4].
  • Various studies have indicated losses of 0.1 to 0.2 per cent of the B12 pool per day [6,7].
  • It is usually excreted through stool but also in the urine and through the skin [3,4].

Body Functions

Recommended Daily Intake

how much vitamin b12 cobalamin is recommended daily
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Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin B12 Food Sources

foods high in b12 vegan
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Excessive Intake/ Toxicity Side Effects

Toxicity is rare for this nutrient as it’s a water-soluble vitamin and the body removes excess amount instantly [1,2,4].

Groups At Risk of B12 Deficiency

B12 Interaction With Other Nutrients

  • Folate Vitamin b12 plays a critical role in folate metabolism [2,4,7].

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Medically reviewed by Sara Osman,RD,PT

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