One of the well-known functions of Vitamin B12 is its role in the development of red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 (or Cyanocobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in the activity of several enzymes in the body. It’s critical in the development and formation of genetic material, the production of red blood cells, nervous system function and the utilization of folic acid.
As red blood cells mature, they require information provided by molecules of DNA. (DNA, or deoxyribose nucleic acid, is the substance in the nucleus of our cells which contains genetic information.)
Without B12, synthesis of DNA becomes defective, and so does the information needed for red blood cell formation. The cells become oversized and poorly shaped, and begin to function ineffectively, a condition called pernicious anemia.
More often than not, pernicious anemia isn’t caused by a lack of B12 itself, but by a lack of intrinsic factor, the stomach-made protein required for the absorption of B12.
Since vitamin B12 cannot be made by any animals or plants, the B12 content of animals and plants depends on their ability to store the vitamin and their relationship to microorganisms (like bacteria in the soil).
Because of their greater ability to store vitamin B12, animals contain more of the vitamin than plants. Excellent sources of vitamin B12 are therefore limited to animal foods.
These foods include snapper, calf’s liver, shrimp, scallops, sardines and salmon.
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