The 5 Best B12 Supplements to Add to Your Daily Health Routine
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Vitamin B12 plays a major role in helping our bodies function properly.
A deficiency in this essential vitamin can have serious or even fatal results.
Foremost, B12 is an important component for preventing anemia. In addition, several neurological disorders, such as depression and memory loss, have been found to be symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
This vitamin is also necessary for the proper functioning of our hearts. Furthermore, it is the vitamin responsible for your glowing skin, strong teeth, and great hair.
In today’s post, we feature the five best B12 supplement brands available on the market today. We hope that the information we provide will help you make the best decision in choosing the best B12 supplement for you. But first, let’s get to know this vitamin better.
Don't have the time read the entire review?
Here's a quick look at our top choices for the best B12 Supplements:
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot product on its own. You can include vitamin B12 in your diet naturally by consuming animal products. B12 is naturally found in milk, poultry, meat, fish, eggs, etc., but it is typically absent from plant-based food.
Because it may be difficult to get a sufficient amount of B12 in everyone's diet, other foods such as cereals are often fortified with this essential nutrient. For a higher dose of B12, supplements are available in two types: methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.
A methylcobalamin source of vitamin B12 is one that occurs naturally and does not require your body to convert it. Your body retains this source better than the synthetic form, cyanocobalamin, which cannot be found in nature. However, cyanocobalamin is better absorbed by the body. One study found that people’s bodies were able to absorb about 49% of a one-mcg dose of cyanocobalamin, while only being able to absorb 44% of an identical dose of methylcobalamin.
Both types of supplements can help prevent a B12 deficiency. Most experts consider methycobalamin to be the superior type of B12, but cyanocobalamin is used more frequently in vitamin B12 supplements, as it is considered to be more stable and cost-effective than naturally occurring sources of B12. As long as you aren't taking any medicines that may have a negative interaction with vitamin B12 supplements, either form of vitamin B12 can be effective.
Everyone should have B12 in their diet, no matter their age. The recommended vitamin B12 dosage for daily consumption is:
- 0-6 months: 0.4 mcg (micrograms)
- 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
- 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
- 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
- 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
- Healthy adults over the age of 14: 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant and lactating women: 2.6–2.8 mcg
Women who are pregnant need more B12 because a fetus needs this essential vitamin for proper brain and nervous system development. Having a B12 deficiency even in the early stages of a pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. A B12 deficiency in a pregnant mother can also contribute to premature birth or miscarriage.
This supplement can be taken in several different forms. When taken sublingually (under the tongue), it can be absorbed into your bloodstream the fastest. Some other ways to take vitamin B12 are through a:
- Liquid drops
What Are the Functions of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 plays a lot of necessary roles in the healthy development of children and the longevity of adults. As previously mentioned, this essential vitamin begins to take effect on humans in the very first stages of life. Vitamin B12 supports brain health from a young age, and continues to help improve brain function throughout life. It also helps prevent neurological disorders.
Vitamin B12 also plays a major role in your body's production of red blood cells. It is needed for cell division and blood formation. In the case of a deficiency, red blood cells become large and oval-shaped, which hinders their movement from the bone marrow into the bloodstream at a healthy rate.
This means your body doesn't have the amount of red blood cells that it needs to carry oxygen to your vital organs. This may result in anemia, which can cause symptoms such as fatigue and weakness. To combat this, vitamin B12 can help prevent anemia by helping your body make healthy red blood cells.
B12 also facilitates DNA synthesis. In addition to DNA synthesis, B12 is required for methionine synthesis from cysteine, and the standard synthesis of myelin in the nervous system.
Having a sufficient amount of B12 in your body also reduces the risk of eyesight disorders such as macular degeneration. Researchers believe that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12 may lower homocysteine in your bloodstream.
Elevated levels of this amino acid have been linked to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. Homocysteine is also responsible for an increased risk of heart ailments, which means that having the recommended amount of B12 in your diet can also improve heart health.
B12 also protects and regenerates damaged nerves. A deficiency in vitamin B12 has been associated with memory loss (mainly in seniors). Even a slight deficiency in this vitamin may contribute to reduced memory performance. This is because B12 prevents the loss of neurons in the brain that are associated with dementia and memory loss.
One study that looked at people who had early stage dementia demonstrated that a vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid supplement combination hindered mental decline. This means that supplementing with this vitamin could improve memory, even if you don't have a diagnosed deficiency.
Because fatigue is a symptom of B12 deficiency, supplementing with this vitamin can provide an energy boost. One of the most common signals of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue or reduced energy.
While your body cannot store extra B12 because it is water-soluble, if you’re significantly deficient in this vitamin, taking a supplement is likely to improve your energy level.
Finally, B12 promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails. Because of its role in the production of cells, your body needs adequate levels of this vitamin to ensure you have healthy hair, skin, and nails.
A deficiency in B12 may result in a variety of dermatologic symptoms, such as hyperpigmentation, discolored nails, damaged hair, reduced skin color in patches, and inflammation in the corners of your mouth.
Alternatively, supplementing with vitamin B12 can improve dermatologic symptoms. But remember, since your body will excrete any excess B12, taking a supplement will not improve your hair, skin, and nails if you are already well-nourished with this vitamin.
Who Needs a Vitamin B12 Supplement?
Vegans and Non-Lacto Ovo Vegetarians
The truth is, neither plants nor animals create vitamin B12. Instead, this vitamin is produced by bacteria. Animals acquire their vitamin B12 from eating foods that are contaminated with the bacteria that produces B12, making the animals a source of this essential vitamin.
Plant foods don't contain B12 except when they have been contaminated by microorganisms or fortified with B12. Thus, vegans and non-lacto ovo vegetarians need to look for fortified foods or supplements to get enough vitamin B12 in their diet.
The volume of hydrochloric acid that is produced in the stomach decreases with age, making it more difficult for your body to absorb the amount of B12 that it needs. Additionally, atrophic gastritis, which is a chronic inflammation that leads to the thinning of the stomach lining, affects as much as 30% of the population who are over the age of 50, and increases with age.
Those Who Have Had Gastrointestinal Surgery
These procedures affect the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients, including B12. Often, gastrointestinal surgeries rearrange the digestive system, which causes food to bypass the portion of the small intestine that absorbs calories and important nutrients such as vitamin B12.
Those Taking Medication for Blood-Sugar Control (e.g., Metformin)
Before taking these drugs, people should be tested to see if they have low levels of B12 already. Researchers have found that 40% of people with type 2 diabetes who use metformin also had a vitamin B12 deficiency or fell into the lower end of the normal range for B12.
Additionally, 77% of people taking a drug such as metformin who had a vitamin B12 deficiency were also suffering from peripheral neuropathy, which is a common form of nerve damage that is linked to type 2 diabetes.
Those Taking Medication for Heartburn
Taking proton pump inhibitors to reduce the symptoms of having too much acid in the stomach has been linked to a 65% increased risk of B12 deficiency. Studies have also found that using H2 blockers, which are other drugs that are meant to suppress acid, is associated with a 25% increase in the risk of B12 deficiency.
People With Gastrointestinal Disorders
People suffering from gastrointestinal disorders (GI) often have a malabsorption of B12. GI disorders such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease reduce your body’s ability to absorb and store B12. As previously mentioned, atrophic gastritis also depletes stomach acid and reduces the body's ability to absorb B12.
Note: If you suspect that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, talk to your health care provider to get a correct diagnosis and receive the appropriate prescription/treatment. In order to fill in the gaps in your nutrition, taking a vitamin B12 supplement in the correct dose may help.
Tips for Choosing the Best Vitamin B12 Supplement
Purchase an actual supplement, not fortified food.
Fortified foods often claim to contain vitamin B12 on their labels, but you can't assume it will be effective. Getting your B12 from these synthetic sources isn't your best option because you could be taking a subpar form of B12 that your body is unable to absorb. You also can’t be sure that your body is able to use these fortified nutrients in the same way that it can use authentic sources.
Fortified foods are also often filled with added sugars, oils, and additives that could negatively impact your health in other ways or reduce your ability to absorb nutrients properly. Because B12 originates in a living bacteria species found in soil, it’s always a good idea to go with a high-quality supplement over processed food that has been fortified.
Choose the B12 supplement that is most absorbable and has a high retention rate in the body.
Methylcobalamin B12 has largely been shown to be better absorbed by the body than other forms of B12. Unlike cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin contains carbon and hydrogen, which are both naturally made (not in a lab). B12 that is made in a lab may pose potential absorption problems because the body doesn’t recognize man-made ingredients as well as it recognizes real nutrients.
Methylcobalamin also remains in the body for a longer period of time, meaning you might not need to take it as often as synthetic forms, or your body might be able to use it for a longer period of time and benefit from it more.
Choose the dose that’s right for your needs.
Remember that if you have health concerns such as existing illnesses, or if you’re pregnant, you might need a higher dose of B12 than other adults. We already broke down the recommended daily dosages for age, but what about some other factors?
If you're vegan, you don't need to take an extreme amount of B12—more isn't always better in this case. However, if you are taking vitamin B12 and you are still suffering from extreme fatigue, anemia, or issues with your nervous system, it is safe to see if you benefit from taking a higher dose.
You can start out at a mid-range dose, such as 1,000 mcg per day, and increase to 2,000 or even 5,000 mcg if you do not feel an improvement. Taking these lower dosages of B12 is safe to do on a daily basis, although some people prefer to take a high dose once a week. People who get B12 patches or injections from their doctors usually only receive them every few months due to their potency.
Choose a product that has more natural ingredients and less artificial components and additives.
If you choose a B12 supplement that is from an animal source, make sure that it is organic, non-GMO, and free from allergens.
Most vegan brands on the market already have these characteristics. Make sure that you read the label of the product just as you would read the label of a food product.
Supplements with artificial ingredients and additives such as harmful preservatives, artificial coloring, strong chemicals, growth hormones, or pesticides have been linked to degenerative diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. These artificial ingredients are often used to prolong shelf life or increase the nutritional value of a supplement, but they have adverse effects.
Make sure to check the expiration date on the packaging to ensure that the product is fresh and effective for its intended purpose.
While it may be easy to identify foods in a grocery store that will spoil if they are not consumed right away, it is not as simple to tell if a supplement is past its expiration date. B12 supplements may become less effective after they expire because the active ingredients begin to break down.
In the US, the law requires drug companies to stamp expiration dates on their products. This date signifies the point at which a manufacturer can guarantee that their product still offers its full potency and is safe to consume. Even before a supplement expires, you should store it in a cool, dry place to make sure that it doesn't spoil.
As much as possible, get the methylcobalamin type of B12.
As previously stated, methylcobalamin is better absorbed by the body, and your body can retain it for a longer amount of time than other forms of B12. Methylcobalamin is the active form of B12 that your body does not need to convert or break down any further. Your cells are unable to use cyanocobalamin, causing your body to have to convert it into the active form of B12 before you can get B12 vitamin benefits. For best B12 supplement absorption, choose a product with methylcobalamin.
Now let's look at the details of some of the best products that you can buy on the market today so you can determine which option can meet your needs.
The 5 Best B12 Supplements to Add to Your Daily Health Routine
This is the best overall option. It contains all non-GMO ingredients and is both sugar-free and nightshade-free, and the company offers a lifetime manufacturer and happiness guarantee on their product.
This B12 spray is organic, and offers a plant-based metabolism boost for people who are vegan, follow a Paleo diet, have had bariatric surgery, or suffer from celiac disease. It is free from gluten, wheat, dairy, corn, and soy, so this easy-to-use supplement spray is appropriate for most consumers.
This high-quality, plant-based spray only includes B12 (in the form of methylcobalamin), purified water, vegetable glycerin (organic, non-GMO, and vegan), a natural mixed berry flavor (non-GMO and vegan), and vegan potassium sorbate (a non-GMO, vegan preservative). Because this supplement comes in a great-tasting spray formula, it has a high level of bioavailability. This means that your body can put this B12 to use quickly without having to overly digest it.
This product will offer you the best value for your money. One dose goes a long way, and you only have to take a dose once every three or four days. It contains methyl B12, which the body is able to absorb and retain easier than other forms of B12.
It comes in the form of lozenges, which are offered in three flavors that consumers love: lemon, cherry, and tropical. You can either chew these lozenges or simply suck on them and allow them to dissolve in your mouth. These easy-to-use lozenges provide high-quality B12 through a convenient method so users are able to obtain bioavailable B12.
Each lozenge contains 5000 mcg of methylcobalamin, and they are free from wheat, gluten, animal products of any kind, soybeans, dairy, tree nuts, egg, fish/shell fish, and peanuts.
This option offers the best allergen-free formulation, making it ideal for people who need B12 supplementation but are sensitive to nuts, gluten, shellfish, dairy, or soy. The EZ Melts Vitamin B12 melts quickly in your mouth, tastes great, and is all-natural. This supplement is made by Solara Labs, who is known for developing high-quality, innovative options for the nutraceutical market. The company puts all of their products through a third-party, FDA-approved testing process to ensure safety, potency, and purity, so you can be sure that you are getting what the label claims to be providing you.
This supplement helps boost energy, memory, and mood. There are 90 fast-melting tablets in each bottle that each contain 2,500 mcg of methylcobalamin B12. Because you only need one tablet per day, this bottle will last you for three months. People love the cherry flavor and the ease of use of this product.
This is the best option that offers a combination of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. It is made using all-natural ingredients, and it delivers fast results. While it is pricier than most products reviewed, it works quickly, so it is great for people who really need a B12 boost right away.
This high-quality, vegan B12 supplement comes in liquid form and is made from methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. It is very bio-available, so if you've been feeling tired or fatigued, or you have low energy, taking this supplement can help you right away. The B12 in VeganSafe does not need to be converted in your liver, and the liquid form results in a highly absorbable and very potent supplement. It offers a light, sweet flavor that people look forward to using each day.
This is the best B12 tablet that is available in a timed-released formula for better absorption. The time-released formula was created to improve your body's ability to convert the foods that you eat into cellular energy. It has 1000mcg of methyl B12 in each serving that supports cognition, digestion, and energy levels. This supplement is specially formulated for people of all ages who want to lead an active, energetic, and healthy life.
This product is made in the USA and has 160 easy-to-swallow tablets in each bottle that contain 1000 mcg of time-released methyl B12. It is free from gluten, yeast, and starch. These tablets also do not contain any animal byproducts. Rather than using animal gelatin for the tablet coating, the company uses hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, which is a commonly used substitute for gelatin.
All of the B12 supplements featured in this review are ideal for filling in the gaps in vitamin B12 deficiency.
However, if you are also concerned about value for money in your purchase, as well as the manufacturing and ethical standards of the product, then Mary Ruth’s Vegan Non-GMO B12 Organic Liquid Spray would be the clear winner.