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Vitamin B12 Getting More Attention

Here’s a question for you: “What do salmon, herring, tuna, cod, sardines and trout all have in common?” All are fish. Some are freshwater fish, some are saltwater fish. All are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. All true. But also, all of these fish are great sources of vitamin B12.


Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin is a complex molecule that is very important for good health and metabolism. Pernicious anemia is a common blood disorder that results from vitamin B12 deficiency. Maintaining a good vitamin B12 intake has become an important part of our plan to stay healthy.

For seniors, a blood analysis for vitamin B12 is becoming more common as part of an annual health check-up. Some studies indicate that absorption of vitamin B12 decreases with an increase in age. This decrease in absorption, together with a diet that does not contain fish or other sources of vitamin B12, could be leading to a deficiency of this important B vitamin. This may be important because there are observations that vitamin B12 deficiency may be a common condition in people with poor or declining cognitive function, especially in older people. The benefits of supplementing with vitamin B12 to combat or slow cognitive decline is still controversial. As with many other nutrients, it is wise to eat a balanced healthy diet to avoid vitamin B12 deficiencies. Relying on supplements to undo bad eating habits is not a good strategy.

In the past, vitamin B12 therapy very often involved periodic injections. However, given the high concentrations of vitamin B12 in many fish, regular consumption of fish is a more practical and convenient way to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency. To say “fish is brain food” may be more true than we realized.

Chemical Structure of Vitamin B12

chemical structue

Suggested Reading

Vitamin B-12 and cognition in the elderly
Am J Clin Nutr. 2008,89:707S-711S

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