Fermentation process of Vitamin B12

Fermentation process of Vitamin B12

Fermentation process of Vitamin B12

Fermentation process of Vitamin B12

Session Objectives

At the end of the session, student will be able to

• Explain the fermentation process of Vitamin B12

• Describe the source of Vitamin B12

• Discuss the deficiency symptoms and uses of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B 12

• Water soluble vitamin

• Cobalamin

• Normal functioning of brain and nervous system and formation of RBC

• Rickes et al – 1948 – recovered a small amount of a component – liver extract – crystallized – Vit B12 – COBALT COMPLEX

• Pernicious anemia

• Stokstad et al – 1948 – culture of bacteria – Flavobacterium solare

• No fungi, plants, nor animals (including humans) are capable of producing vitamin B12.

• Only bacteria and archaea have the enzymes needed for its synthesis.

• Sources of B12 are animal products (meat, fish, and dairy products) and supplements.


• Severe damage to brain and nervous system

• Fatigue, depression, poor memory

• Mania and psychosis

• Anaemia, mouth ulcer, tingling feet

Structure of Cobalamin

Organometallic compound

Corrin ring

4 Pyrrole subunits

Structure of Cobalamin

Production – Fermentation

Choice of organisms

• Obtained – by product of Streptomyces antibiotic fermentation –by product of acetone-butanol fermentation

• Most of the vit B12 in the sludge solids is synthesized by microroganism during the activated sludge treatment of sewage

• Addition of cobalt salt only slightly increases the yield

• Commercially produced by direct fermentation with Streptomyces olivaceus


• Glucose

• Cobalt chloride (CoCl2.6H2O) – 2 to 10 ppm – precursor

• Duration – 3-4 days or until lysis of mycelium occurs

• 25 ˚C


• Vit B12 remains in microbial cells until autolysis sets in – recovery is done before autolysis sets

• Solids and mycelium – filtered or centrifuged – separated from broath – dried

• Used – vit B12 enriched animal feed supplement

Alternate method of recovery

Completed fermentation broth

                                                                             â Acidification and sodium sulfite added Centrifuge or filter

Residual solids and spent mycelium separated


Fluid – evaporated under vacuum


Vit B12 – small amount


Purified and crystallized

Other organisms used

• B. megaterium

• Recent – aerated submerged bacterial fermentation – strains of

              – Propionibacterium (Beet molasses medium & Cobalt precursor)

              – Pseudomonas (Beet molasses medium & Cobalt precursor)

Varieties of Fermented Vitamin B12

The process of fermentation begets a plethora of vitamin B12 variants, encompassing cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and methylcobalamin. Each variant boasts idiosyncratic attributes and finds application in diverse domains like medicinal interventions, nutritional enrichment, and supplement formulations.

Applications in Medical Avenues and Industrial Realms

Fermented vitamin B12 finds extensive utility within the sphere of medical therapeutics, particularly among individuals grappling with pernicious anemia and insufficiencies of vitamin B12. It likewise emerges as a prized ingredient within the culinary and pharmaceutical sectors.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The availability of fermented vitamin B12 has played a pivotal role in ameliorating health concerns precipitated by deficiencies. Consistent consumption of fortified foods imbued with this vitamin and the integration of supplements have proven efficacious in both prevention and mitigation.


• Vit B12 – Obtained – by product of Streptomyces antibiotic fermentation

• By product of acetone – butanol fermentation


  1. Can vitamin B12 be synthesized without microbial fermentation? While microbial fermentation is the primary source of vitamin B12, some algae and plants contain traces of this nutrient.
  2. Are there any side effects of consuming fermented vitamin B12? Fermented vitamin B12 is generally safe for consumption and is well-tolerated by most individuals.
  3. Is vitamin B12 deficiency reversible? With appropriate supplementation and dietary changes, vitamin B12 deficiency is often reversible.
  4. What is the role of vitamin B12 in nerve health? Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of the nervous system and preventing nerve-related disorders.
  5. Are fermented vitamin B12 supplements suitable for vegans? Yes, fermented vitamin B12 supplements are an excellent vegan-friendly source of this nutrient.

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