Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient the body gets from food. It helps to boost metabolism for energy and burn stored fat and calories, and also is involved in the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to every cell in the body. In addition, vitamin B12 is important in the synthesis of DNA and RNA and helps to keep nerve fibers healthy.
Metabolism occurs constantly in the body to provide energy, build and repair body tissues and keep the brain, heart and all body systems functioning. The food we eat is broken down and metabolized to provide energy, as is the fat that is stored in the abdomen and other areas. Vitamin B12 and other vitamins act as co-enzymes that help bring together the necessary chemicals and molecules for metabolism reactions to occur.
Vitamin B12 helps to boost metabolism and promote fat burning in the body in several ways. It helps to transform fats and protein to energy through metabolism. Oxygen is required for the metabolic reactions that occur in each cell, and vitamin B12 works with folic acid to produce red blood cells (erythrocytes) that carry oxygen from the lungs to every cell in the body. Without enough vitamin B12, red blood cells would be deformed and unable to carry oxygen efficiently, causing decreased metabolism, low energy and health problems.
Vitamin B12 helps to maintain the protective myelin sheath around the nerves, which speeds up messages to and from the brain and the body. This helps the nervous system to control body respiration and keep metabolism running at an optimum level. Vitamin B12 is necessary for overall healthy neurological function.
Vitamin B12 Deficiencies
Vitamin B12 is acquired by eating certain foods, particularly proteins from animals and animal products. In the stomach, the digestive enzymes hydrochloric acid and pepsin release vitamin B12 from the dietary protein so that it is free to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are usually caused by poor absorption due to an inadequate amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach or a lack of a chemical called intrinsic factor that binds to free vitamin B12 and enables it to be absorbed. A deficiency of intrinsic factor is called pernicious anemia and causes large, malformed red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 Sources
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body cannot store it; about 2mcg of of vitamin B12 are needed per day through the diet. The best sources for vitamin B12 are meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fortified cereals and milk and other dairy products. Strict vegans who consume no animal products whatsoever and elderly people who produce lower levels of intrinsic factor might develop vitamin B12 deficiencies that require supplementation or injections.