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Vitamin B12 in Erythropoiesis

By Charis Grey

Erythropoiesis is a term used to indicate the process of red blood cell formation. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues and organs throughout your body, and when red blood cell formation is hampered, your health can be negatively impacted. Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells.


Vitamin B12 works in conjunction with folate in the formation and maturation of red blood cells, according to the Merck Manual Home Edition. Your liver stores vitamin B12 in quantities that should last up to five years before the supply is exhausted. When you no longer have sufficient supplies of B12, your red blood cells can become depleted in number and abnormally large, a condition known as megaloblastic anemia.


Vitamin B12 deficiency can inhibit your body’s ability to create red blood cells to transport oxygen to the organs that depend on it. As a result of vitamin B12 deficiency, anemia can occur, leaving you feeling tired and weak. Neuropathy, or nerve damage, is another potential result of vitamin B12 deficiency.


Vitamin B12 deficiency, and the anemia that results from it, can be the result of either dietary inadequacies or health problems that inhibit your ability to absorb adequate amounts of vitamin B12 from the foods you eat. MedlinePlus states that chronic alcoholism, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, tapeworm infections, gastrointestinal surgery, pernicious anemia and chronic use of heartburn medications can all hamper your ability to absorb a sufficient amount of vitamin B12.


In most cases, the average American consumes plenty of B12 through his normal daily diet. The National Institutes of Health states that a single slice of liver can deliver 800 percent of your daily value of vitamin B12, and some breakfast cereals are fortified with enough to fulfill 100 percent of your daily value. Vegetarians who eat dairy products can obtain vitamin B12 through milk, cheese and eggs. Strict vegans will be hard-pressed to consume enough dietary B12, as it is not present in sufficient amounts in any plant source. It is recommended that adults consume at least 2.4 micrograms of B 12 daily, but pregnant and lactating women need a bit more. The daily value for pregnant women is 2.6 micrograms and lactating women should consume 2.8 micrograms.

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