Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Welcome once again, have you ever felt weak, lost your appetite or lost weight for no reason? It could be a consequence of tiredness or stress, but the reality is that there is a disease with these symptoms called anaemia that can be prevented with vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a nutrient that helps maintain healthy nerve cells, red blood cells and the nervous system. It helps to make the genetic material of cells (DNA) and prevents the development of anaemia. It is mainly consumed through animal protein, but can also be supplemented in the diet with multivitamins, so in this article we share with you the best presentations of vitamin B12 that you can find on the market.




Summary

  • Vitamin B12 is a nutrient involved in the proper functioning of neurons, blood cells and the nervous system. It is absorbed through animal protein, but when the amount is no longer sufficient for the body, it can be consumed in the form of a dietary supplement.
  • It is a multivitamin that is very accessible to everyone, as there are vitamin B12 tablets, sublingual tablets, injections, soluble drops, gels or nasal sprays that can be very well adapted to your daily activities and lifestyle.
  • But it's not a case of buying for the sake of buying, you need to know a few factors before you buy. One of the most important is your age, which will determine the right dose for you. You also need to check if any medication you are taking blocks its absorption or if you were recommended to take it in its pure or combined version.

The Best Vitamin B12: Our Picks

Buying Guide: What you need to know about vitamin B12

If you are going to take a dietary supplement such as vitamin B12, it is important that you are aware of its benefits, side effects and how to use it, so that you can choose a form that suits you. Therefore, in this section we provide you with the necessary information to help you make a better purchasing decision.

Vitamin B12 intake may help prevent the development of anaemia (Photo: Antonio Guillem / 123rf.com)

What is vitamin B12 and what are its benefits?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient involved in the production of blood cells and in the good condition of the nervous system. It is not present in any vegetable, so it is absorbed through animal protein. It has the ability to produce red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to the cells through the blood and also helps to improve the functioning of the nervous system and prevents the development of anaemia.

It is absorbed during the diet when we eat liver, clams, meat, fish, milk or yeast, and has the function of creating genetic material (DNA), regenerating nerve fibres, caring for the cardiovascular system and transforming fatty acids into energy. All vitamin B12 reserves are stored in the liver, but are depleted over time. If there is a medical condition in which the necessary amount cannot be absorbed from the diet, it can be supplemented by dietary supplements.

Advantages
  • Prevents anaemia
  • Synthesises red blood cells
  • Creates nerve tissue
  • Builds DNA
  • Cares for the nervous system
Disadvantages
  • Not of plant origin
  • Causes hyperactivity
  • Raises blood pressure
  • Causes insomnia
  • Causes skin reactions

Vitamin B12 in tablet, sublingual tablet, injectable solution, nasal gel or drinkable solution - what should you pay attention to?

For the body to process vitamin B12 through food, 2 steps are needed: hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates the vitamin from the food it comes from, and it combines with a substance called "intrinsic factor" to be fully absorbed. When someone does not produce this "intrinsic factor" substance, they are anaemic. Fortunately, there are various forms of vitamin B12 supplements that can be added to the diet, and we explain their characteristics below.

  • Vitamin B12 tablets. This presentation is the most common because its manufacture is similar to that of any other tablet on the market, there are different weights and it is easy to take anywhere.
  • Vitamin B12 sublingual tablet. Unlike tablets, the sublingual tablet is placed under the tongue and gradually dissolves in saliva. Sublingual tablets are usually fruit-flavoured, which makes them easier to take.
  • Vitamin B12 injectable solution. This form is ideal for people who are not good at taking pills on a regular schedule. Its advantage is that the substance goes directly into the bloodstream without harming the stomach.
  • Vitamin B12 gel or nasal spray. The gel or nasal spray is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the nose and is highly recommended for those who cannot absorb it through the stomach because of gastric problems.
  • Vitamin B12 drinkable solution. It is consumed through sublingual drops as if it were a homeopathic treatment. This version is highly recommended for adults and children who are afraid of injections or are very bad at taking pills.
Tablet Tablet Sublingual Injectable solution Gel or nasal spray Drinkable solution
Form of consumption Oral route To be placed under the tongue Intramuscular or subcutaneous injection To be applied in the nose Sublingual drops
Advantage Can be consumed anywhere Easily dissolved Does not hurt the stomach Easy to apply Rapidly absorbed
Who can take it People without gastric problems People without gastric problems People with malabsorption problems People with gastric problems Children or adults with swallowing
Dosage 1000 micrograms (mcg) 25 to 100 micrograms (mcg) 1000 micrograms (mcg) 500 micrograms (mcg) 0.5 ml
Frequency 2 or 3 times a week Per day Once a month Once a week Per day

Who should include vitamin B12 in their diet?

There are people who need to add vitamin B12 to their diet or they may become unbalanced. We have identified their characteristics and put them together in the following list for you to know.

  • Adults over 65. At this age, metabolism slows down and many nutrients are not absorbed as they should be. The problem is that the stomach stops absorbing vitamin B12 through food, causing tiredness, fatigue, problems with the nervous system and cell regeneration.
  • Vegans or vegetarians. Vitamin B12 is present in red meat, white meat, fish, eggs and milk. When vegetarians stop eating these foods, they reduce their vitamin B12 intake. This can lead to problems in digesting food, complications in the assimilation of iron, in the transformation of fats into energy, as well as weakening of their immune system.
  • People with anaemia. This case is a vicious circle because the lack of vitamin B12 causes anaemia and the only way to solve it is to consume this vitamin. Anaemic people look pale or have yellowish skin, are dizzy and have no appetite. Without dieting or exercise, they lose weight, get numb hands and feet, have chest pain, shortness of breath and feel very weak. To find out if you are an anaemic person you need to undergo a series of specific medical tests.
  • People with gastrointestinal problems. Those who have had weight loss surgery, have problems digesting food, have bacteria or parasites in the stomach, or are taking treatment for gastrointestinal diseases. This is because the medicines they take prevent the stomach from absorbing the right amount of vitamin B12 to take care of their nervous system and blood cells.

Vitamin B12 drops are more easily absorbed by the body (Photo: amylv / 123rf.com)

Buying criteria

We are so stressed every day that adding vitamin B12 to our diet is a great idea. This vitamin is known to relax the nervous system and is recommended to be included in the diet under the supervision of a doctor. But before you go ahead and buy any type of presentation, we want to share with you the factors you need to consider to make a good purchase, one that fits your lifestyle and activities.

Varied presentations

Although we've talked about tablets, sublingual tablets, injectable solution, gel or nasal spray, as well as drinkable solution, vitamin B12 can be consumed in some fun ways you might not have imagined. For example, there is a toothpaste form in which, through brushing, the vitamin can be absorbed into the body.

It is a purely vegan invention, free of fluoride, gluten, peroxides, trichlorine or parabens. It is highly recommended for young children and people who wear dentures. It helps fight bad breath thanks to its minty flavour, and over time it can remove stains from coffee, tea, wine or cigarettes.

Another interesting version is vitamin B12 in gummies, ideal for children who don't want to take medicine or are afraid of injections. They come in different flavours, are chewable, gluten-free, low in calories and include other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc and biotin.

Dosage

All humans can take vitamin B12 to restore physical and emotional energy, improve mood, help our concentration, memory and boost our immune system. As it has no side effects or harmful effects on health, this food supplement can be taken daily and according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the daily dose changes with age.

  • Birth and infancy. Newborn babies up to 6 months can take 0.4 micrograms (mcg) a day. Those aged 7 to 12 months will be fine with 0.5 micrograms (mcg), while children aged 1 to 3 years need a maximum amount of 0.9 micrograms (mcg). Older children between 4 and 8 years old can take 1.2 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 a day, but those approaching adolescence, between 9 and 13 years of age, will take 1.8 micrograms (mcg).
  • Puberty and adolescence. When an adolescent is between 14 and 18 years of age, they can take 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12, however, it is also correct for those over 15 years of age to consume a maximum of 4 micrograms (mcg) per day.
  • Young adulthood and 3rd age. Men and women between 19 and 50 years of age can take about 2 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 for healthy physiological processes. The dose changes when they reach 60 years of age or older, as intake should increase to 2.4 micrograms (mcg).
  • Pregnant or lactating women. Regardless of age, pregnant women should include approximately 2.2 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 in their diet. If they are breastfeeding, it is recommended that the amount be increased to 2.6 micrograms (mcg) per day.

Vitamin B12 is essential for numerous processes in the human body, so its integration into the daily diet is of great importance. (Photo: Tatjana Baibakova / 123rf.com)

Combination

As a multi-purpose food supplement, it is common to find presentations of vitamin B12 combined with some other substance. This is an advantage because it can provide a greater amount of nutrients to the body.

Unless your doctor has specified a pure intake of vitamin B12, you can find combinations with vitamin C, iron and folic acid to improve the vitality and energy of pregnant women. Other combinations with vitamin C, B2, B6 and folic acid help to reduce the symptoms of menstruation, to avoid iron deficiency in the blood or to prevent the development of anaemia.

Precautions

As mentioned in previous paragraphs, it is important to keep in mind that the use of some medications can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 in the body, and here are some examples of these.

Antibiotics to treat certain infections, medicines for gastritis, reflux or ulcers, treatments for diabetes, as well as certain anti-allergens, can delay the effect of vitamin B12. It is worth noting that continued alcohol consumption can damage the liver, which also processes this nutrient.

It is recommended that vegetarians or vegans include vitamin B12 in their diet, either pure or in combination (Photo: monticello / 123rf.com)

Expiry date

Like any other medication, vitamins lose effectiveness over time and expire after 4 to 5 years of life. Although they can be taken without risk of harming the body or becoming intoxicated, it is best to buy new vitamins.

Vitamin B12 in liquid form, for example, is degraded by a chemical reaction it has with water, so when consumed after it has expired, it will probably not provide the benefits we are looking for. In most cases, vitamin bottles do not have an expiry date, so we invite you to think back and try to remember how long ago it was purchased and discard the idea of consuming it again.

A tip to keep your vitamin B12 tablets, pills, tablets or capsules in good condition is to change them from a plastic container to a glass bottle, and to keep them away from the sun and humidity. On the other hand, we recommend using leftover vitamin B12 as fertiliser for plants by crushing the tablets and adding them to soil; a much better option than disposing of them in the trash or toilet.

(Featured Image Source: Natchavakorn Songpracone/ 123rf.com)

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