convert carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), which is then "burned" to produce
energy. B vitamins are often referred to as B-complex vitamins and are essential in
the metabolism of fats and protein.  They are necessary for maintaining muscle tone
in the gastrointestinal tract and promoting the health of the nervous system, skin,
hair, eyes, mouth, and liver.  

Vitamin B12 is especially important for maintaining healthy nerve cells.  It's also
helpful in the production of DNA and RNA (the body's genetic material). Vitamin B12  
and vitamin B9 work closely together to regulate the formation of red blood cells and
to help iron function better in the body.


Deficiency of Vitamin B12:
In order for the body to absorb vitamin B12, there must be normal function of the
stomach, pancreas, and small intestine.  Vitamin B12 deficiency is usually caused by a
lack of intrinsic factor, which is a substance that allows the body to absorb vitamin
B12 from the digestive system.  Other potential causes include a blood disorder called
pernicious anemia, vegetarians who follow a strict vegan or macrobiotic diet,
individuals with certain intestinal infections such as tapeworm, and those with an
eating disorder.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, diarrhea, shortness of breath,
nervousness, and numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes

Note: A variety of medical conditions can lead to the symptoms mentioned above.  Therefore, it is
important to have a physician evaluate them so that appropriate medical care can be given.


Toxicity (Vitamin B12 Overdose):
Vitamin B12 supplements should be avoided by people who are sensitive or allergic to
cobalamin and cobalt.  Taking very high doses of vitamin B12 can cause diarrhea,
itching, rash, transitory exanthema, and urticaria.  Taking any one of the B complex
vitamins for a long period of time can cause an imbalance of the other important B
vitamins.  To avoid the imbalance, it is recommended that you take a B-complex
vitamin instead of isolating any single B vitamin.  


Caution: Eating natural foods that are high in vitamin B12 is the safest and healthiest
way to get an adequate supply of the nutrient.  Due to risk of toxicity, individuals
should always consult with a knowledgeable health care provider before starting
doses of supplements.  Before giving supplements to children, it is recommended that
you first consult with their pediatrician.  Also, some supplements may interfere with
medications.  If you are taking medication, it is recommended that you consult with
your physician before taking any supplements.  All supplements should be kept in
childproof bottles and out of children's reach.


Vitamin B12 Food Chart (List of Foods High in Vitamin B12):

Clams, steamed, 3 ounces - (84.0 mcg)
Mussels, steamed, 3 ounces - (20.4 mcg)
Crab, steamed, 3 ounces - (8.8 mcg)
Salmon, baked, 3 ounces - (2.4 mcg)
Beef, cooked, 3 ounces - (2.1 mcg)
Milk, skim, 8 ounces - (0.9 mcg)
Egg, poached, 1 large - (0.6 mcg)
Brie, cheese, 1 ounce - (0.5 mcg)
Chicken, roasted, 3 ounces - (0.3 mcg)
Turkey, roasted, 3 ounces - (0.3 mcg)



Sources:

American Dietetic Association: Complete Food And Nutrition Guide (2nd Edition)
Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS

Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and More
Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH

University of Maryland Medical Center - umm.edu

Linus Pauling Institute - oregonstate.edu

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
Eating foods that are high in
vitamin B12 can help prevent
conditions such as cancer, neural
tube defects, dementia, and
depression.  Foods high in
vitamin B12 include: meat,
poultry, and fish.     


What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is one of eight
water-soluble B vitamins.  


Function of Vitamin B12:
The B vitamins work together to
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