Vitamin B-12 is an essential water-soluble nutrient used for the production of red blood cells, proper nervous system function, DNA synthesis and various metabolic processes. Available as a supplement and in food sources such as seafood, breakfast cereals and meats, vitamin B-12 plays an important role in healthy metabolic function and energy distribution in the body. Vitamin B-12 is beneficial for many metabolic processes in your body.
Metabolism of Fatty Acids and Proteins
One of the primary roles of vitamin B-12 is serving as a necessary cofactor for various enzyme reactions. For example, this B vitamin is required for catalyzing the conversion of L-methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA, which is a reaction that is essential for the production of energy from fats and proteins. An adequate intake of vitamin B-12 allows your body to break down fats and proteins efficiently, resulting in a more-thorough utilization of the food that you eat.
Vitamin B-12 is added to energy drinks and energy supplements because of its effects on metabolism and energy production. Because of its role as an enzyme cofactor, your body's energy production is faster and more efficient. If you don't get enough B-12, you may succumb to physical fatigue and feelings of weakness, known as megaloblastic anemia. Under these conditions, vitamin B-12 supplementation improves energy and reverses symptoms, leading some to believe that supplementation under normal circumstances results in increased energy and improved physical performance. But there is no evidence to suggest that vitamin B-12 supplementation beyond the recommended dietary allowance is associated with a corresponding increase in energy or performance.
Synthesis of Fatty Acids and Hemoglobin
Another metabolic benefit of vitamin B-12 is its role in synthesizing fatty acids, which are used in the cell membranes of nerve cells. Vitamin B-12 also supports enzymes that create hemoglobin, a compound used to transport oxygen in red blood cells. Oxygen is used throughout the body as fuel for metabolizing food, which means that vitamin B-12 is vital for all forms of metabolism.
One of vitamin B-12's most significant metabolic benefits is its function in the synthesis of DNA. Vitamin B-12 is a cofactor for an enzyme called methionine synthase, which is used to produce methionine, an enzyme that is used to synthesize DNA. Successful DNA synthesis results in stronger strands of DNA that are less susceptible to damage, which reduces a major risk factor for cancer.