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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms


vitamin B12  listen  (VY-tuh-min ...)

  A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells, DNA, RNA, energy, and tissues, and keeps nerve cells healthy. It is found in liver, meat, eggs, poultry, shellfish, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is water-soluble (can dissolve in water) and must be taken in every day. Not enough vitamin B12 can cause certain types of anemia (a condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal) and neurologic disorders. It is being studied with folate in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer. Also called cobalamin and cyanocobalamin.