What are the health benefits of vitamin B12?

Dr. Rovenia Brock, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, plays a critical role the pathways of the body that produce energy. It is also needed for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and for healthy nervous system function. Individuals who follow vegan or vegetarian diets may benefit from a B12 supplement since B12 is predominantly found in foods of animal origin, such as chicken, beef, fish, milk and eggs.
Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
The following are health benefits of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin):
  • Aids in lowering homocysteine levels; not clear whether it lowers heart disease risk
  • Assists in making new cells and breaking down some fatty acids and amino acids
  • Protects nerve cells and encourages their normal growth
  • Helps make red blood cells
The health benefits of consuming vitamin B12 include helping to keep your body functioning optimally. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is essential for normal metabolism and preventing fatigue. It is also vital to the normal functioning of your nervous system, including your brain, helping to keep you clear-headed and your memory sharp.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is needed for the formation of normal red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying life-promoting oxygen throughout your body. Like all B vitamins, B12 can also help keep your hair, skin, eyes and liver healthy.

Most people can get enough vitamin B12 from eating foods that come from animals, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. If your blood levels of vitamin B12 are normal and you are not deficient in the nutrient, there is no strong evidence that taking vitamin B12 supplements can make you more healthy, energetic, smart or attractive. Supplements that include vitamin B12 are sometimes recommended for women who are pregnant, as B12 is essential to normal fetal development. Talk to your doctor for more information about vitamin B12 and your own B12 needs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.