What Are Vitamins B6 & B12 Good For?

Vitamins are essential for normal growth and development and for many chemical reactions in your body. Vitamins B6 and B12 are water soluble, meaning they cannot be made or be stored in your body and must be obtained from your diet regularly. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is found in plant and animal sources, whereas vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal products.

Fortified breakfast cereals are excellent sources of vitamins B6 and B12. (Image: eugena-klykova/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 plays a key role in the formation of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells. It helps the production of antibodies that fight infection, the hormone insulin, amino acids and chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells. It also helps your body maintain normal blood glucose levels. Vitamin B6 is important for the maintenance of lymphoid organs that make white blood cells in your body. The recommended daily allowance of this vitamin is 1.3 milligrams for adults age 19 to 50. Low intake of vitamin B6 can lead to weakness, nausea, cracked lips, diarrhea, loss of appetite and depression.

Foods with Vitamin B6

Beef, poultry and fish are some of the best animal sources of vitamin B6. Half a chicken breast contains 25 percent, and 3 ounces of rainbow trout contain 15 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6. Many fruits and vegetables -- including bananas, spinach, avocados and potatoes -- are good sources of this vitamin. Many breakfast cereals contain added vitamin B6 to help boost your daily consumption.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is necessary for the production of DNA, hormones and red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. It is needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the processing of fats and carbohydrates. This vitamin is especially important for babies, young children and teenagers. The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily allowance of 2.4 micrograms for people 14 years and older. Low intake of vitamin B12 can lead to megaloblastic anemia, dementia, weakness, nerve damage and loss of appetite.

Foods With Vitamin B12

Cooked beef liver is among the richest sources of vitamin B12. One 2.4-ounce slice contains about 48 micrograms of vitamin B12, 800 percent of the recommended daily intake, notes SkipThePie.org. Seafood, including trout, haddock and tuna, provides a good source of this vitamin. Steamed clams are a particularly rich source of vitamin B12, offering 1,401 percent of the recommended daily allowance in just 3 ounces. Eggs, chicken, milk, cheese and yogurt contain reasonable amounts of vitamin B12. Like vitamin B6, vitamin B12 is also found in enriched breakfast cereals.

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