Vitamin B12 - Cyanocobalamin

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is used by the body for several functions including red blood cell production, DNA production and cell replication, maintenance of the myelin sheath around nerves and the conversion of food into energy.

Vitamin B12 also works with Vitamin B9 (folic acid) and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) to control the level of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of this amino acid like substance can increase the risk of heart disease.

Food sources of Vitamin B12 include those of animal origin such as meat, eggs, dairy products, poultry and fish. The main vegan source of Vitamin B12 is seaweed although amounts appear to vary so this is not a reliable supply.

If the body stops producing a substance known as intrinsic factor it then becomes unable to absorb Vitamin B12 correctly which in turn leads to a deficiency. This deficiency can develop in Pernicious Anaemia. A high dose Vitamin B12 supplement (under medical supervision) will correct the deficiency as some is still absorbed in the small intestine even without intrinsic factor.

Absorbtion of Vitamin B12 decreases with age so it is thought that older people may benefit from a supplement. Strict vegans may also not get sufficient quantities of this vitamin in their diet and are also advised to take a good quality supplement. It has been shown that taking Cyanocobalamin in a form that dissolves under the tongue - known as sublingual - may be more effective as the vitamin gets into the blood stream more easily and quickly.

It is recommended that you also take Vitamin B9 - better known as Folic acid - when supplementing with Vitamin B12. This is because a high intake of one can in turn mask a deficiency of the other.

If you are currently taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions please consult your doctor or consultant, to seek advice before taking any vitamins or supplements.