The importance of B12 supplements
One of the most essential vitamins to your health is B12, but the human body cannot produce it. In an ideal world, you should be getting all the B12 you need from a well-balanced diet. However, this may be easier said than done.
If you believe your body is lacking in B12, it may be time to consider a supplement. They come in many easy-to-take forms and varying doses to suit every need. In this comprehensive guide, we break down everything you need to know about B12 supplements.
If you are just here to find the best one to buy, you can jump right to our top recommendation, New Chapter Fermented Vitamin B12, an organic option designed for fast absorption.
Who should take a B12 supplement
Anyone experiencing signs of a B12 deficiency should consider taking a supplement. Symptoms of B12 deficiencies are varied and may include depression and irritability, yellow skin, mouth ulcers, a “pins and needles sensation” in the hands or feet, blurred vision, dizziness, muscle weakness and more.
In addition to people actively experiencing a deficiency and those in groups prone to deficiencies may want to take them as a preventative measure. The most significant source of B12 in our diets comes from animals. Therefore, vegans are particularly at risk of experiencing a deficiency.
Those with digestive issues, such as people with Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia or celiac disease, may have trouble absorbing enough B12 from the foods they eat, resulting in a deficiency.
People over 50 are also more prone to B12 deficiencies as we tend to have decreased hydrochloric acid levels as we age, so our body is less efficient at breaking down and absorbing B12 from the foods we eat.
The benefits of taking B12 supplements
The benefits of taking B12 supplements are far-ranging. Here are just a few:
- Supports bone health and helps to prevent the development of osteoporosis
- May reduce the risk of macular degeneration
- It plays a role in preventing significant congenital disabilities
- Helps with red blood cell formation
- May improve mood and increase energy levels
- Potentially reduces the risk of heart disease
- Supports skin, nail and hair health
What to know before buying a B12 supplement
Types of B12
There are four types of B12 generally used in supplements: methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
- Methylcobalamin, a naturally occurring form and the most active in the body, is often found in high-quality supplements.
- Cyanocobalamin is a cost-effective and more stable synthetic form, often found in budget-friendly supplements. However, there are currently contradictory studies regarding whether it is easier or more challenging for the body to absorb cyanocobalamin than methylcobalamin.
- Hydroxocobalamin is the most commonly found B12 in food sources but the least common in oral supplements. It is easy for the body to absorb and is typically used in B12 injections.
- Adenosylcobalamin is less stable than the other three types but can be obtained from algae, making it vegan-friendly.
Forms of B12 supplements
Oral B12 supplements come in tablets, chews, lozenges and sprays. Many experts recommend against tablets because they take the longest to digest and enter the bloodstream. However, there aren’t any conclusive studies that show if any form offers notable benefits over the other when taken regularly, so the decision comes down to your personal preference.
If you prefer not to go the oral route, you can find B12 supplements that come as transdermal creams and patches, as well as nasal sprays and gels. These have shown to be just as effective as oral supplements. The best idea is to choose the form of B12 supplement you think will be easiest to incorporate into your lifestyle.
Cost of B12 supplements
The cost of B12 supplements varies based on both the type and form. Most high-quality gummies, tablets and sublingual melts cost between $10-$20. Creams, patches and liquid drops cost a little more and usually range from $20-$30.
B12 supplement FAQs
Does everybody need to take a B12 supplement?
A. People who eat a well-balanced diet and have no trouble absorbing B12 from food don’t need to take B12 supplements. Those experiencing a B12 deficiency or in high-risk groups should confer with their doctor to see if a B12 supplement is recommended.
Are there side effects from B12 supplements?
A. Oral and topical B12 supplements are considered safe for most people and rarely cause side effects when taken as directed. Those getting very high dosage injections may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue and tingling in the hands and feet.
Do B12 supplements interact with other medications?
A. Some medications may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb B12. These include metformin, Prilosec and Prevacid. Always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements to ensure they are safe to use in conjunction with any medication you’re taking.
The best B12 supplements
Top B12 supplement
What you need to know: This kosher-certified and vegetarian-friendly supplement contains both methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin to ensure maximum absorption.
What you’ll love: It has a blend of herbs that boost absorption and increase energy levels.
What you should consider: This particular dosage isn’t very high.
Where to buy: Sold by iHerb
Top B12 supplement for the money
What you need to know: These high-potency lozenges have a tasty cherry flavor and can be chewed or dissolved.
What you’ll love: They are gluten-free and vegan-friendly.
What you should consider: This dosage may be excessive for those without a deficiency.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: An ideal choice for those who don’t like swallowing tablets, this B12 spray is easy to absorb and contains a healthful blend of superfoods.
What you’ll love: It is free of synthetic ingredients and GMOs.
What you should consider: It can get stale if not stored properly.
Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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