Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
6 min read
Vitamin B12 is one of the many vitamins our bodies require to function properly. B12 is known for being a great source of energy; many people who start taking a B vitamin supplement report an upswing in their moods and energy levels. Vitamin B12 is not made in the human body, and must be ingested through outside means. People who have digestive troubles may struggle to ingest enough to prevent deficiency. Age and pregnancy are other factors that can increase risk of deficiency.
Not only is vitamin B12 a vital part of how our body metabolizes energy, but vitamin B12 is also integral to proper neurological function and the creation of red blood cells. Our bodies need it to function, and we definitely feel better when our B12 levels are high enough. As B12 is part of multiple energy-related cycles in the body, a deficiency can leave us feeling exhausted. Beginning a B12 supplement will likely lead to a burst of energy, although that may fade a little once B12 levels in the body balance back out.
Vitamin B12’s uses don’t begin and end with energy. Vitamin B12 is also essential for metabolizing fats and carbohydrates that we eat, as well as synthesizing proteins for use. It supports our cognitive and nervous systems, too. A study done in Europe found that people with high B12 levels had better word recall and verbal fluency scores compared to people with a vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 also helps our bodies make new red blood cells, convert and metabolize folic acid, manage homocysteine levels (which keep our blood vessels healthy), and may have a hand in keeping our bones healthy, too.
Vitamin B12 can be ingested through food. It is found in animal products such as eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. For people who need more B12, or for vegetarians and vegans who do not use animal products, there are many supplement options. Liquid B12 capsules, tablets, and B12 beverages are all options that can be explored.
The recommended daily allowance of B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms per day. Your primary care physician may recommend a higher dosage if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you are experiencing a vitamin B12 deficiency. As always, consult your doctor before changing your vitamin regimen.
The best way to be sure you’re boosting your B12 intake is through supplementation. Supplements can ensure that you know exactly how much you’re taking and will keep you at your regular levels of B12, if not giving you a little extra. Additionally, consuming foods rich in B12 will increase the amount in your body, too – beef, tuna, trout, salmon, milk and other dairy products, and fortified non-animal milks and cereals all contain B12. Adding more of these foods to your diet will help you feel more energetic, as well as supporting other elements of your health.
If supplementation is the route you choose, make sure you know what to look for. Care/of’s B12 supplement includes all three naturally occurring forms of Vitamin B12. The active forms of B12 (methylcobalamin, hydroxylcobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin) are “coenzyme” forms of B12, which means they are better utilized by B12-dependent enzymes and reactions within the body. In addition to the three active forms of B12, Care/of’s B12 supplement uses a natural soluble fiber and prebiotic, known as acacia. Acacia is a natural and nutrient-rich processing aid. . We formulated our B12 with no unnecessary additives or fillers in mind to keep it as clean and natural as possible. Care/of’s B12 supplement is also completely vegan.
Energy drinks are already popular, with many people nowadays swapping out coffee for a canned energy drink. Energy drinks that contain B12 tend to contain an inactive form of B12 called cyanocobalamin, which is less beneficial to our bodies than the active form. If you are looking for an energy drink or other beverage, you’ll want to look for a form of B12 called methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, or hydroxocobalamin – these are active forms of B12 and will be far more effective. Additionally, these drinks tend to have either a high sugar content or a significant amount of artificial sweeteners for taste. This is something to be conscious of, as sugar and artificial sweeteners can come with their own negative effects on health.
B12 injections are an option most recommended for people experiencing a vitamin B12 deficiency, especially if they have other health issues that may make it more difficult for their bodies to absorb B12. They may be injected directly into muscle tissue (IM, or intramuscular injections) or subcutaneously (between the skin and muscle tissue). B12 injections usually contain either methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. The dosage may vary, but as these are prescribed, your doctor would provide a recommendation of the frequency of the shots and the appropriate dose.
B12 juice shots typically come as a pack of tiny bottles. Drinking one every day can be an effective way to increase your B12 intake. Some may contain liquid B12; others contain seaweed or algae, which both produce B12 as well. They may also contain B12 derived from chlorella or spirulina. Like energy drinks, it is important to be mindful of the sugar or artificial sweetener content; these drinks tend to rely on sweeteners to make them taste good, which can pose its own risks. They may also contain inactive forms of B12 as opposed to active forms.
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that any unused B12 in the body will be filtered out and eliminated by the urinary system. Studies have found that doses of up to 1,000 micrograms per day are safe, as the water-soluble nature of B12 keeps any possibility of toxicity low. The Institute of Medicine has even stated that “no adverse effects have been associated with excess vitamin B12 intake from food and supplements in healthy individuals.” As always, though, check in with your doctor before taking any sort of high-dose supplement.
B12 is a vitamin that is vital to our health and the functionality of our bodies. Taking a B12 supplement will help us feel more energetic, as well as supporting our neurological, bone, and blood health. B12 supplements are generally safe to use, as the vitamin is water-soluble and excess amounts will be filtered out by the body.