Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12. Supercharge Your Energy. Stay Sharp & Focused.

Updated: 1/16/24

Have you been feeling tired and sluggish lately? Difficulty concentrating on tasks and staying focused throughout your day? If so, Vitamin B12 could be the key to supercharging your energy levels and mental sharpness. Vitamin B12 plays a huge role in metabolism and energy production within our bodies. It’s also essential for healthy brain and nerve function. Studies show that up to 20% of people may have some degree of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Deficiency symptoms can range from fatigue and brain fog to mood changes and neuropathy. The good news is that boosting your B12 levels is simple with either foods rich in B12 or an affordable daily supplement. In this post, I’ll explain the important roles B12 plays in your health, some signs you may need more, and tips to incorporate it into your routine to start feeling more alert and energized.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cyanobalamin or methylcobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, brain, and blood cells. It is naturally found in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, and it can also be taken as a supplement. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin B12 requires intrinsic factor, a protein made in the stomach, for proper absorption, which means that people with digestive disorders or those who have had gastrointestinal surgery may have difficulty absorbing it.

Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in aiding the body’s metabolism by converting food into energy. It also helps maintain healthy nerves and blood cells, and assists in the production of DNA, the genetic material of all cells. Without enough vitamin B12, red blood cells become large and immovable, leading to anemia, fatigue, and weakness. It is also essential for proper brain function and mood regulation, as it can help prevent depression and cognitive decline.

Vitamin B12 has a fascinating history and cultural significance. In the 1920s, researchers discovered that a substance found in liver juice could cure pernicious anemia, a deadly condition that caused many deaths at that time. The substance was later identified as vitamin B12, and its discovery led to the development of many life-saving treatments. Vitamin B12 is also an important part of many cultural traditions. In Japanese culture, fermented soybeans called tempeh are a rich source of vitamin B12, and in India, fermented milk is used to make a popular drink called Lassi, which is also a good source of vitamin B12.

Methylcobalamin vs. Cyanocobalamin

It contains the mineral cobalt, so any form of it is part of the family of “cobalamins.”

  • Methylcobalamin is the scientific term for the vitamin we get from foods
  • Cyanocobalamin is the synthetic form of the vitamin, only found in supplements

Methylcobalamin is a form of B12 that your body naturally converts into a coenzyme that is needed for a variety of essential processes. This coenzyme is called methylmalonyl-CoA mutase, and it helps to break down certain types of amino acids and fats in your body. Methylcobalamin is the preferred form of B12 since it is already in the active form, ready to be utilized by the body.

Cyanocobalamin is another form of B12 that needs to be converted into a usable form by your body. Unlike methylcobalamin, it has a cyanide molecule attached to it, which needs to be removed in the liver before it can be used by the body. While this form of B12 is stable and cheap to produce, it’s not as easily absorbable as methylcobalamin.

Which B12 Supplement is Right for You?

Choosing between the two forms of B12 can be a confusing task. The good news is that both forms are effective and safe when consumed in appropriate doses. But, if you have certain health concerns or preferences, one form may be a better choice for you.

Methylcobalamin is a great option if you want a form of B12 that is easy for your body to utilize. It’s a preferred form of B12 for people suffering from nerve damage, such as those with peripheral neuropathy or multiple sclerosis. It’s also a better option for vegans or vegetarians since it is naturally occurring in plant-based B12 supplements.

Cyanocobalamin, on the other hand, is a better option if you are looking for an affordable and stable form of B12 to use in fortified foods and supplements. It’s also an excellent choice for people who have absorption issues or digestive disorders that may interfere with B12 uptake.

The B Vitamin Family

Vitamin B12 is an important member of the B vitamin family. The B vitamins are famous for boosting energy and benefiting the metabolism. Once thought of as a single element, scientists now know that vitamin B is actually a complex assortment of nutrients. The B vitamins are all water-soluble, and the body will flush them out when too much is consumed. The body doesn’t store B vitamins for very long, so we need to eat healthy foods that contain them or supplement with a B complex multivitamin.

Vitamin B12 Benefits

B12, like all of the B vitamins, has its own special talents. Without this important element, the body systems suffer, and when we have it, we enjoy optimum health.

May Boost in Energy Levels

It helps in the production of Red Blood Cells (RBCs) that carry oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen is essential for our body to produce energy, and a deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue and weakness. Taking vitamin B12 supplements can help increase energy levels and reduce fatigue.

May Strengthen Bones

It is essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. It works with calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. By ensuring you have adequate levels of vitamin B12, you can maintain healthy bones and reduce the risk of fractures.

May Boost Immune Function

It helps to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are essential for immune function. A deficiency in this nutrient can lead to a weakened immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infections. By supplementing with vitamin B12, you can boost your immune system and reduce the risk of illness.

May Maintain a Healthy Nervous System

It plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. It helps in the production of myelin, a substance that surrounds nerves and is essential for nerve function. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage and can cause numbness, tingling, and other neurological disorders.

Supports Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails.

Beautiful, healthy skin, hair, and nails are often a reflection of what’s going on inside the body. Vitamin B12 is essential for cell growth and replication, making it an important factor in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. A B12 deficiency can lead to dry, thinning hair, brittle nails, and even skin discoloration. By ensuring you’re getting enough B12, you can promote healthy skin, hair, and nails and maintain a youthful appearance.

Supports Heart Health

It is important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. It helps to reduce the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage arterial walls, leading to heart disease. Regular intake of vitamin B12 supplements can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

May Improve Mood

It plays a significant role in the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin, which are both neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to depression and other mood disorders. Supplementing with vitamin B12 can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Supports Brain Function

It is essential for maintaining proper brain function. It helps in the production of myelin and supports synaptic transmission, which is vital for memory and learning. Studies show that regular intake of vitamin B12 supplements can slow down age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

May Reduce the Risk of Anemia

Anemia is a condition that occurs due to the low levels of red blood cells in the body. It can cause fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Vitamin B12 helps to produce healthy red blood cells and can lower the risk of anemia caused by its deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Benefits

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Fatigue and Weakness

One of the most common symptoms of a B12 deficiency is fatigue and weakness. If you’re feeling tired and rundown, even after a good night’s sleep, it may be time to increase your B12 intake. This vitamin helps your body produce red blood cells, which are essential for carrying oxygen to your muscles and tissues. Without enough B12, your body can’t make enough red blood cells, leading to tiredness and weakness.

Mood Changes

It also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system, which in turn affects your mood. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or irritable, a deficiency in B12 may be to blame. Research shows that low levels of B12 are associated with a higher risk of depression and other mood disorders.

Numbness and Tingling

It plays a crucial role in our nervous system, helping to maintain the protective covering around our nerves. Without enough of this nutrient, you may experience numbness, tingling, or pins and needles sensations in your hands and feet. You may also experience difficulty with walking or balance.


As mentioned earlier, B12 deficiency can cause your body to produce fewer red blood cells, leading to a condition called anemia. This can leave you feeling even more fatigued and weak than usual. If you notice that your skin appears paler than usual, or if you’re prone to bruising easily, talk to your doctor about getting tested for anemia.

Yellowing Skin

It helps to remove bilirubin from our blood, a substance that can accumulate in the body if our liver isn’t functioning properly. If bilirubin levels get too high, it can cause a yellowish tinge to appear on your skin and whites of your eyes. While yellowing skin can have other causes as well, a lack of vitamin B12 shouldn’t be ruled out.

Digestive Issues

If you’re experiencing digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, a B12 deficiency may be to blame. This nutrient is essential for the production of stomach acid, which helps break down food and absorb nutrients. Without enough B12, your digestion can suffer, leading to these uncomfortable symptoms.

Cognitive Impairment

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause cognitive decline, difficulty concentrating, and memory loss – especially in older adults. A supplement of B12 shows to improve cognitive symptoms and may even reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Memory Loss

Lastly, it plays a crucial role in brain function and cognitive health. A deficiency in this nutrient can lead to memory loss, confusion, and even dementia. If you’re noticing that you’re having trouble remembering things or are feeling mentally foggy, a B12 deficiency may be the culprit.

Vitamin B12 Side Effects


While headaches are not a common side effect of consuming vitamin B12, some studies suggest that it may cause mild to moderate headaches in some individuals. If you experience continuous headaches after taking vitamin B12 supplements, it is best to consult your physician.

Nausea and Vomiting

Excessive consumption of vitamin B12 can sometimes lead to nausea and vomiting. However, this is a rare side effect, and it only occurs in individuals who are highly sensitive to vitamin B12.


Diarrhea is another possible side effect of consuming too much vitamin B12. However, it is only seen in a small percentage of people who consume a high dose of the vitamin.


Some studies suggest that high doses of vitamin B12 can cause acne in some individuals. However, this only occurs in a very small number of people who are highly sensitive to the vitamin.

Vitamin B12 Interactions

Some drugs can interfere with the body’s natural assimilation of vitamin B12. These include:

  • Aminosalicylic acid – This drug used for digestive problems may inhibit the body’s absorption of the vitamin
  • Colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare) – This anti-inflammatory drug can treat gout, but it may decrease absorption of the vitamin
  • Metformin (Glumetza, Glucophage, Fortamet) – Typically used for diabetes patients, this drug may reduce absorption of the vitamin
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or other stomach acid-reducing drugs may decrease absorption of the vitamin
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements – Taking vitamin B12 combined with vitamin C may reduce the effectiveness of the vitamin

Check with your health professional to avoid potential drug interactions.

Vitamin B12 Dosage

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 is:

  • 2.4 micrograms / day for healthy teens ages 14-18 years
  • 2.4 micrograms / day for adults aged 18-50 years
  • .9-1.8 micrograms / day for infants and children
  • 2.6 micrograms / day for pregnant women
  • Vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods are recommended for adults over age 50

The Bottom Line

From energy levels and nervous system function to skin health and mood regulation, B12 supports several critical functions in the body. It’s a crucial nutrient that we must all be aware of, especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, as it’s naturally present in animal products. If you’re not getting enough B12 from your diet, supplements are a great way to maintain healthy levels. So, include B12-rich foods in your diet or consider taking supplements to keep yourself healthy and energized. Remember, a healthy mind and body are essential to live your best life!

In conclusion, vitamin B12 is essential for our health, but like everything else, too much of it can lead to side effects. Therefore, it is crucial to follow the recommended dosage and consult your physician before taking any supplements. By doing so, you can ensure that you receive all the health benefits of vitamin B12 while avoiding any unnecessary side effects. Always prioritize your health and well-being, and make sure to listen to your body!

These statements have not receive an evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intending to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: Ryan Quigley
Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.