Vitamin Atlas

Vitamin B12: Cobalamin

Vitamin B12: Cobalamin

You don't need much Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, because a little of it goes a long way. B12 does many jobs around the body, including helping to make DNA, blood, and the myelin sheaths around your nerves. B12 needs to bind to a complementary chemical in the gut before it can be absorbed, so digestive disorders can cause B12 deficiency, as can a diet without meat, milk or eggs.

What Types of Food Have Cobalamin?

Cobalamin in the World: Korean Komestibles

Map

Click on the buttons to see how Vitamin B12 plays a role in your:

  • Digestive System
  • General Cellular Function

Digestive System

When you eat Vitamin B12-containing foods, your stomach acid helps release the Vitamin B12 from everything else in the food.

Digestive System

Your stomach also makes a protein called Intrinsic Factor (IF). IF binds to the B12 and accompanies it as it travels out of the stomach and into the small intestine.

Digestive System

Later, near the end of your small intestine, the B12-IF pair can be absorbed through the wall of your digestive tract and into your bloodstream. Without IF, you can't absorb any Vitamin B12.

General Cellular Function

Vitamin B12 helps make and duplicate DNA and RNA—the instruction manuals for your cells. You need to create DNA and RNA when your body is making new cells and tissues.

General Cellular Function

Once a parent cell has duplicated its genetic material, it can divide into two daughter cells. As you can imagine, Vitamin B12 is especially important for cells that are constantly being regenerated (like red and white blood cells). It is also important during times of increased growth (such as pregnancy and infancy).