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Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a metal complex composed of a central cobalt ion bonded to six ligands. It is essential for major biological functions such as protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, the maintenance of the central nervous system, and the formation of red blood cells. Since mammals cannot synthesize cobalamin, dietary intake represents the only natural source for humans. Dairy products can provide significant levels of cobalamin; moreover, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) panel has set the recommended intake at 4 μg/day for adults. Vitamin B12 content was determined in milk and several matrices related to the process of transformation of the residual whey from Parmigiano Reggiano cheese-making to obtain ricotta cheese. In addition, vitamin B12 degradation during ricotta cheese shelf-life was studied. The analyses were performed using an ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. Results show that vitamin B12 amount in ricotta from dairy and experimental cheese-making brings respectively 1/8 to 1/4 of the adequate intake in adults established by EFSA. In addition, shelf-life experiment shows that cobalamine is fairly rapidly degraded in ricotta: light effect seems to be significant, even if the light exposure is short. The use of photoprotective packaging material increases B12 shelf-life in the early stage of storage.
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