Contact your healthcare provider or local health department if you are at risk for coronavirus (COVID-19). To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, please avoid the emergency department except in the event of an emergency. | Learn More
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Vitamin B12
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.
Current as of: November 7, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.