Welcome to our guide on all things vitamin B12. Did you now that this nutrient is essential to the proper functioning of many processes in our bodies? Including allowing red blood cells and neurons to work under optimum conditions. Unfortunately, as we age we begin to lose the ability to properly absorb this key vitamin.
Did you know that vegans and those following restrictive diets could also be at risk of entering a vitamin B12 deficiency? In the sections ahead we have put together a comprehensive summary of all the things you should know about vitamin B12. We have included detailed information about its benefits, characteristics, varieties and many more relevant facts about this important nutrient.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Ranking: Best vitamin B12 supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about vitamin B12
- 4.1 How does vitamin B12 work in our body?
- 4.2 Which foods contain high levels of vitamin B12?
- 4.3 Should I be supplementing vitamin B12 if I’m vegan or vegetarian?
- 4.4 Even if I meat, can I still enter a vitamin B12 deficiency?
- 4.5 What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
- 4.6 What are the potential repercussions of a sustained vitamin B12 deficiency?
- 4.7 How does a vitamin B12 deficiency come about?
- 4.8 What is the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12?
- 4.9 What types of vitamin B12 supplements are there and which one is right for me?
- 5 Purchase Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Vitamin B12 supplements are meant for those looking to replenish their vitamin B12 levels or those who don’t get enough of this vitamin through their diet.
- There are many presentations of this supplement, you can find it in: pills, capsules, drops, and injections. You will have no trouble finding tablets and capsules at any Pharma Plus or supermarket.
- If you have no trouble swallowing pills, tablets and capsules will work well. Drops and injections are meant to treat more severe deficiencies in a more immediate manner.
Our Ranking: Best vitamin B12 supplements
In this section, we have included the best vitamin B12 supplements available. We hope this selection will help you better understand the possibilities within this market. Moreover, we have included a brief description of each product to help you compare them. We have also made sure to include products apt for vegans!
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about vitamin B12
Did you know that one of the key responsibilities of vitamin B12 is enabling the transport of fragmented carbon atoms - specifically methyl and hydroxyl? This means that B12 is also involved in the exchange of hydrogen atoms, a process essential to human health!
Want to know more? In this next section, we cover all the must-know facts of vitamin B12.
How does vitamin B12 work in our body?
Nonetheless, probably the most important role of vitamin B12 in our bodies is caring for the immune system. For this reason, it is crucial to keep adequate levels of this vitamin in our reserves. Having proper levels of this vitamin in our bodies can help you fight many different symptoms and diseases. Let’s look at a few of them:
- Chronic fatigue
- Diseases of the nervous system
- Mental illness such as depression, dementia and schizophrenia
- Autoimmune diseases
Which foods contain high levels of vitamin B12?
Nonetheless, we should mention that vegetable sources of vitamin B12 actually contain a lot fewer vitamin B12 than meat sources. This means that, if you’re vegan or you follow a very restrictive diet, supplementation of this essential vitamin is strongly recommended.
Should I be supplementing vitamin B12 if I’m vegan or vegetarian?
Moreover, vegetarians, despite being able to consume dairy products, should also keep an eye on their B12 levels. At the end of the day, if you’re unsure about your health status, you should consult a doctor and get a blood test to check that all the nutrient levels are in order.
Even if I meat, can I still enter a vitamin B12 deficiency?
We would suggest that any of the at-risk groups we have mentioned stay vigilant concerning their nutrient levels.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Unfortunately, symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to show up, and diagnosing it can be complex. Because low levels of B12 cause your folate levels to drop. A B12 deficiency can sometimes be mistaken for a folate deficiency.
Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for some of these symptoms of B12 deficiency:
- Pale or yellow skin
- Vision problems
- Mood swings
- Mouth sores
- Tiredness and fatigue
What are the potential repercussions of a sustained vitamin B12 deficiency?
The functioning of the nervous system will also be affected by a vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because B12 plays an important role in the production of myelin, which insulates your nerves and is critical to your nervous system function. Symptoms that the nervous system has been compromised can be the feeling of pins and needles and changes in mobility.
How does a vitamin B12 deficiency come about?
These are the top three causes of depleted vitamin B12 levels:
- Low vitamin and nutrient intake
- Issues absorbing vitamins
- Increased need for vitamin B12 (ie: aging, pregnancy)
Vegetarians, pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly and others at high risk of deficiency may want to track their diets closely to make sure they’re getting enough B12.
Luckily for those on vegans diets, fortified foods can be good sources of this vitamin. Nonetheless, it may still be difficult to reach the RDI and they should still keep a close eye on their blood nutrient levels.
Some population groups actually require higher levels of this vitamin on a daily basis. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and those suffering from autoimmune diseases are often prescribed high doses of this vitamin.
Our body’s ability to properly absorb vitamin B12 may be disrupted as a result of certain conditions. Most of the time, B12 deficits can be attributed to one of these conditions:
- Gastrointestinal diseases, such as gastritis or Crohn's disease
- Complications in the liver
- Chain smoking
- Consumption of birth control pills
What is the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12?
|Healthy people||Low, 3-50 μg|
|Vegans and vegetarians||Medium, 100-250 μg|
|Pregnant women||High, 251-500 μg|
|People with severe stomach problems||Very high, 501-3,000 μg|
|People with severe vitamin B12 deficiencies||Megadoses, over 3000 μg|
What types of vitamin B12 supplements are there and which one is right for me?
- Tablets or capsules
- Sublingual tablets
- Spray and
- Injections and
Keep in mind the different products you’ll find, they will have different concentrations, formulas, advantages and disadvantages. In order to find the right product, we strongly suggest that you carefully evaluate your needs and lifestyle. To help you understand the different formats better, we present you each one with their advantages and disadvantages in the table below:
|Sublingual tablets||Capsules||Spray and drops||Injections and ampoules|
|Low||Moderate||Moderate||Low or high|
|Easy to ingest||Can be difficult to swallow||Very easy to ingest||Difficult to take|
|Contains flavors and other materials.||Pure, contains few added ingredients.||Contains certain added ingredients.||Certain ampoules or injections contain cyanocobalamin, a synthetic B12 compound.|
|Long-term effects, since the daily dose is low.||Long-term effects, since the daily dose is low.||Long-term effects, the vitamin begins its effect at the time of intake.||The dose is very high, therefore its effects are immediate.|
Vitamin B12 is needed for the production of serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. Vitamin B12 supplements may help improve mood in people with an existing deficiency.
When looking to buy any kind of supplement, it is important to make a well-informed decision. Throughout this article, we have given you all the knowledge you need to understand your personal relationship with vitamin B12. In this last section, we want to present you with a final set of criteria that will help you effectively evaluate products in order to make the best purchase.
The reason why you need to supplement with B12 will determine how effective you need your supplement to be. For instance, if you suffer from a serious deficiency, ampoules are great options. Moreover, if your case is severe, a doctor may prescribe injections. These are reserved for the most serious symptoms of B12 deficiencies. In contrast, if you’re just looking to supplement your diet, the normal over the counter supplements will do just fine.
People with allergies, dietary restrictions and sensitivities should exercise caution when buying vitamin B12 supplements. Some products may have irritants and additives like magnesium stearate, which can interact negatively with some people, resulting in heartburn and headaches.
Always properly research the product and it’s ingredients before making your final purchase.
The price of the product you choose should come into play after you have evaluated its quality and ingredients. A good indicator of quality is that the manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee if not fully satisfied with the product. When it comes to supplements, more often than not, price is closely related to quality.
Today the most common allergens are eggs, milk, soy, gluten, peanuts, and other nuts. If you are allergic to any of these substances, we would advise looking for vegan options, these are often fully allergen-free.
In some rare cases, some people may be allergic to the active form of the vitamin: cyanocobalamin - cobalamin for short. Keep in mind that this active form is often present in heavier dose products like ampoules and injections.
There are varying forms of the vitamin available. The most popular version of the vitamin are:
- Cyanocobalamin:This form is formed by combining vitamin B12 and cyanide. Even though it is simple to synthesise, it can cause severe allergic reactions and serious complications to some. For this reason, we would advise for smokers and people with kidney problems to stay away from this substance.
- Hydroxocobalamin:This form has the benefit that it doesn’t release toxic substances into our body. It is often part of cobalamin injections and it’s presented in high doses for detoxification purposes.
- Methylcobalamin:This is a bioactive form of vitamin B12. This means that it comes ready to be directly processed by the body. The biological structure of this substance is identical to vitamin B12, making it possible for the liver to store it without complications.
- Adenosylcobalamin:Just like methylcobalamin, this substance is an active form of vitamin B12. Therefore, adenosylcobalamin can also be stored in the liver as part of the cobalamin reserve.
Considering supplements with aromas can be very useful in some cases. Children in particular are especially sensitive to smells. There are different types of aromatic components that may be used in some supplements, check out the most common:
- Natural aromatic extracts:These come from natural sources such as clove oil, rose water, and vanilla.
- Natural-identical aroma extracts:These extracts are generated synthetically so that they are biologically the same as the natural versions. An example is synthetic vanilla.
- Artificial flavor extracts:These are generated synthetically.
We would always advise taking the more natural path, especially with supplements for children.
By now you probably know the importance of vitamin B12 in essential functions of our bodies. This essential nutrient plays a key role in our sustained and long term health. If you’re looking to supplement this essential nutrient, keep in mind there are several types of this vitamin and you should choose the format that best suits your needs.
There are certain population groups that are at higher risk of suffering a deficiency of this important vitamin. Vegetarians, pregnant or breastfeeding women and the elderly for example, are at high risk of deficiency may want to track their diets closely to make sure they’re getting enough. Always make sure you do your research before purchasing a product!
If you found the information in this guide useful, don’t hesitate to share it with your loved ones, or leave us a comment with your thoughts in the comments section below!
(Featured image source: Srihon: 48128193/123rf.com)