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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin, and is found in appreciable quantities only in foods of animal origin. The most important suppliers of vitamin B12 include liver, red muscle meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.

In brief:

Vitamin B12 Tabelle_en 

The vitamin, in the form of the coenzymes 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin, is involved in various metabolic reactions, such as the breakdown of certain fatty acids and amino acids, as well as the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins. It also supports the formation of red blood cells, cell division and the regeneration of nerve fibres.

The available data indicate that in Germany the reference values for vitamin B12 intake are reached in all age groups and in some cases even far exceeded. The supply of vitamin B12 is therefore assured in the healthy general population. A purely diet-related undersupply of vitamin B12 is rare. Only people who follow a vegan diet and as such do not eat animal-source foods have an increased risk of insufficient vitamin B12 intake if they do not take the vitamin via food supplements.

Good sources of vitamin B12 when following a vegetarian diet:

Menü Vitamin B12 neu_en

A deficiency can manifest itself in a disorder of blood formation, mental abnormalities such as memory disorders and depressive moods as well as gastrointestinal disorders.

Proposed maximum level for the addition of vitamin B12 to food supplements (per daily dose of an individual product):

Vitamin B12 Höchstmenge

In order to provide consumers with a significant additional nutrient intake via food supplements when needed and at the same time protect well-supplied people from excessive intake, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends not adding more than 25 micrograms (µg) of vitamin B12 per daily dose to a food supplement.





Date Title Size
BfR2GO, Issue 2/2020, Key Topic: vegan diet
Please click here to have the BfR2GO, Issue 2/2020 displayed as a scrollable PDF.



Date Title Size
BfR Opinion No. 009/2021
Updated recommended maximum levels for the addition of vitamins and minerals to food supplements and conventional foods 478.3 KB


Press information

Date Title Keywords
Veganism: Vitamin B12 is well supplemented, iodine is a matter of concern


Eine Initiative des BfR:

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