Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12
Office of Dietary Supplements • NIH Clinical Center • National Institutes of Health
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin because it contains the metal cobalt. This vitamin helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells [1-4]. It is also needed to help make DNA, the genetic material in all cells [1-4].
Vitamin B12 is bound to the protein in food. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach releases B12 from proteins in foods during digestion. Once released, vitamin B12 combines with a substance called gastric intrinsic factor (IF). This complex can then be absorbed by the intestinal tract.
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