Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is important in the formation of all
cells in the body, especially red blood cells and the covering of nerve cells
(myelin). The body needs myelin for nerves to function properly.
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products such as meat, shellfish,
milk, cheese, and eggs. Most people who eat meat are not likely to develop a
vitamin B12 deficiency. There is normally enough vitamin B12 stored in a
person's liver to last a year or more, even if the person does not eat any foods that
contain the vitamin during that time.
Some people have a disease that makes their bodies unable to absorb
vitamin B12. These people need either to get an injection of B12 once a month, to take
high-dose B12 pills, or to use a nasal spray containing B12.
Strict vegetarians (vegans) who do not eat meat, milk, cheese, or
eggs are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. They need a
vitamin supplement containing vitamin B12.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.