What is COBALAMIN DEFICIENCY (Vitamin B12) - Benefits, Absorption & Foods

What is COBALAMIN DEFICIENCY (Vitamin B12) - Benefits, Absorption & Foods






Cobalamin or vitamin B12

Here is a vitamin that raises many concerns for vegetarians and even vegans. A vegetable diet unfortunately not provide all the vitamins our bodies need.

Vitamin B12 does not exist in the plant world and vegetarians who eat no eggs or dairy products should ensure they have adequate supplies of this vitamin.

Role of Vitamin B12 Cobalamin

Vitamin B12, together with vitamin B9 and B6 , is necessary for the conversion of homocysteine ​​to methionine. Homocysteine ​​is an amino acid, which, in excess, is detrimental to nerves and blood vessels. When Vitamin B12 is lacking, homocysteine ​​accumulates in the blood. High levels of homocysteine ​​are responsible for cerebrovascular events . In addition, methionine appears to be necessary for the production of myelin material that insulates nerves. If homocysteine ​​accumulates in the blood, methionine is not synthesized and the nerve transmission is altered .

B12 transforms one form of folic acid into another, is necessary for the production of DNA and RNA. If B12 is deficient, folic acid will not be converted and synthesized to DNA. This is crucial in the production of red blood cells. B12 deficiency therefore affects the red blood cells which can become abnormally large.


Recommended Dietary Allowance

b12 levels




Deficiency symptoms

Our needs for this vitamin are very low and the fact that it is stored in the liver, a B12 deficiency can appear several years after stopping the consumption of animal products. In addition, folic acid can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency .

If the diet is rich in folic acid and low in B12, anemia can remain silent for years until serious neurological symptoms appear. The caused nerve damage may, in some cases, be irreversible.

A vitamin B12 deficiency leads to nerve and brain problems. Deficiency in this vitamin is called pernicious anemia or megaloblastic .

Who is at risk of deficiency?

  • Vegans and vegetarians
  • Those with absorption problems due to surgery of the stomach or intestines, a low production of stomach acid or intrinsic factor, pancreatic disease ...
  • Those who take drugs that suppress gastric acidity
  • alcoholics
  • Pregnant women and lactating

Food sources

This vitamin is exclusively synthesized by bacteria. Plants are completely devoid of B12 unless they are contaminated with bacteria. This can be the case when you grow your own vegetables organically and do not wash properly. However, you can not count on the dirt of your vegetables to ensure your intake of B12.

It was believed that some plant foods (tempeh, seaweed, spirulina, sprouted legumes, etc) were reliable sources of B12, but it turned out they are not. These have similar chemical compounds with vitamin B12, but that do not have the leveals required. Moreover, it seems that they prevent the absorption of the active form of vitamin B12.


Nutritional yeast can be a good source of B12 vitamin only if the yeast has grown on an enriched culture. Read the label or ask the supplier. If the yeast food you consume is not rich in vitamin B12, it is difficult to meet your needs. You could eat 130 grams of cheese per day but you would have in this case a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Solve one problem by creating another is not the solution. It is better to rely on food supplements B12.