In this post, we are going to take a look at what vitamin B12 is, why you may be lacking this elusive vitamin and why you should be taking the best B12 supplement on the market.
Are you feeling extremely exhausted after a meeting post lunch? Too fatigued after a session at the gym or never-ending overtime at work in order to meet your deadline?
It may be more than normal exhaustion. A deficiency of vitamin B12 may be responsible for all the fatigue and low energy blues you’re going through.
Being fatigued has become a normal way of life. Chronic exhaustion has become so common that some experts call it the “fatigue epidemic”.
Most of us feel overwhelmed by stress, lack of sleep and information overload. To cope, we often put our health on the back burner, counting on stimulants such as caffeine to help get through the day.
If this sounds like you, here are some methylcobalamin B12 supplements that can boost your energy levels considerably and support overall well-being.
Keep in mind that the dosage recommendation for some may cause you to consume a higher amount than you’d generally require. This can be both a good thing as well as a bad thing depending on the person. Consult with your doctor before taking any supplement.
The Best B12 Supplement Reviews
Ingredients / Serving
Designed to promote vitality and nourish the body and mind, Jarrow Formulas B12 consists of the most biologically active form of vitamin B12 that exists in nature - methylcobalamin.
These sublinguals are kept under the tongue, allowing them to dissolve and be taken up quickly by your body’s cells.
Dosage: 5000 micrograms per lozenge
Things We Liked
- Sugar-free cherry flavored B12 lozenges melt quickly in your mouth
- It’s a dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free and wheat-free formula
- Does not contain preservatives or other synthetics chemicals
Things We Didn't Like
- Dissolves relatively slowly
- Ingredients like magnesium stearate might impede body’s absorption of methyl B12.
- Some reviewers state that they didn’t notice any change despite regular use
Here’s a vitamin B12 cream that claims to be safe and gentle to your skin, causing no side effects.
Formulated for maximum vitamin absorption and enriched with deep-nourishing moisturizers, this vitamin serum offers a good dose of antioxidants and assures prolonged effectiveness. We think topical vitamin B12 is the best form of B12 supplement!
Dosage: 320 mcg from 2 pumps
Things We Liked
- Contains Methyl-B12
- Easy to apply and thus a convenient choice for busy people
- Has a mild minty fragrance and is not greasy
- Acts as a good moisturizer especially for dry skin
Things We Didn't Like
- It does take a bit of time and effort to rub it in
- Contains folic acid; not recommended for people with methylation issues or MTHFR mutation
Next on the list is a supplement that is a good vegan B12 spray for your vitamin deficiency and energy issues.
Just a few sprays of the raspberry flavored B12 spray delivers enough spray vitamins so you can rest assured about meeting your daily required intake. We like this one because it contains natural vitamin B12 from wholefoods!
Dosage: 500 mcg of methylcobalamin dosage in one spray; Roughly 140 sprays in one bottle
Things We Liked
- Comes from a reputed manufacturer
- Contains vegan, organic and active ingredients in their superior form to make you feel that burst of vitamin b energy
- Easy to use and tastes good; in fact, one of the vitamins with the best flavour we’ve ever reviewed
Things We Didn't Like
- Many B12 supplement reviews complain that it grows mold around the nozzle area when not refrigerated
The NOW Foods Ultra B-12 liquid is an all-in-one B vitamin solution that gives you extra energy to keep you going.
It is great for those who don’t like popping pills, and the liquid solution guarantees maximum absorption and assimilation.
Dosage: 5,000 mcg of B-12 per Teaspoon
Things We Liked
- Contains all B vitamins, including three forms of B12
- Has a mild flavour
Things We Didn't Like
- Contains folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate. Those with MTHFR mutation should avoid taking this supplement.
- Has added ingredients such as brown sugar syrup and sweeteners like xylitol
- The aftertaste is not that great
NOW Foods B-12 Instant Energy Packets
Looking for some vitamin B12 energy? Now Foods delivers a B12 supplement rich in nutrients for enhanced energy in a powdery form.
Laced with additional nutrients such as Creatine and Chromium, this vitamin B supplement seems to have the right ingredients to power you up. Comes in easy to carry single serving packets.
Dosage: 1,000 mcg per 1/4 teaspoon dose
Things We Liked
- A single serving contains all the B vitamins your body needs
- Reasonably priced
- No serious preservatives, fillers or sugars
Things We Didn't Like
- Doesn’t contain B12 in it’s most active form
- The product has a strong taste which many B12 supplement reviews claimed was awful however we found it to be quite okay
If you haven’t had any luck with regular off-the-shelf B vitamin supplements, here is a topical formula that can help.
Specifically designed for people with malabsorption issues or MTHFR gene mutations, this bright red copper tinted topical cream delivers enough vitamins into your skin and makes you feel more energetic.
This is the most advanced B12 and folate supplement on the market.
Dosage: 2 Pumps daily
Things We Liked
- Seems to have the right formula to produce pronounced effects in people with MTHFR gene mutation
- Topical form - a great alternative to pills and shots.
Things We Didn't Like
- Very expensive
- Some users stated in their supplement reviews that it caused anxiety and sleeplessness at times. This might be from using a too high dose.
Touted to be a wheat-free, soy-free and dairy-free answer to your B12 deficiency, this Seeking Health supplement is made with a special formula.
Similar formula to the Neuro-Immune Stabilizer Topical Cream but in pill form, each lozenge has more than enough methyl B12 and adenosyl B12 to help build all day energy and support endurance.
Dosage: 1,000 mcg of Methyl B12 and Adenosyl B12 in a lozenge
Things We Liked
- Contains L-5-MTHF – an active, methylated form of folate naturally occurring in the body- so this might work well with those afflicted with MTHFR gene mutation.
- The taste is pleasant- the cherry flavour actually tastes like real cherries
- Some users stated that they got great results, far greater than any impact they had ever felt from a vitamin B12 patch or lozenge
Things We Didn't Like
- The dose might be too low to cause noticeable improvements
This formula consist of a fairly large concentration of the most unstable form of B12 supplements- Hydroxocobalamin.
However unstable in this case does not mean it is bad, it is actually the most expensive form of B12 to manufacture and has the ability to convert to both active forms of B12 when inside the body.
This formula will deliver all the active forms without any fillers or binding agents.
Dosage: 2000 mcg Hydroxo B12 in one lozenge
Things We Liked
- Active formula that may improve negative symptoms in people with COMT gene mutation
- Contains Hydroxo B12, which is particularly good for patients with pernicious anemia
- Free from preservatives, artificial flavours, colors, and fillers
Things We Didn't Like
- Some users claimed that regular supplementation did not demonstrate clear benefits
- Contains Xylitol, which can be bad if you are sensitive to sweeteners
This Seeking Health supplement is a distinctive solution with active Adeno B12 which help increase B12 levels in your body, and provide an active form of vitamin B12 ready to enter cells.
This is another good B12 supplement for those with COMT mutations.
Dosage: 3000 mcg in one Lozenge
Things We Liked
- Good for COMT mutations
- Contains mitochondrial form of B12 which means taking this supplement might have a positive impact on the way your body produces and maintains energy
- The natural cherry flavour is worth mentioning, it tastes good
- Although it seems to have no effect in the first few days, there are noticeable changes in the long run
Things We Didn't Like
- It certainly is not the cheapest vitamin B12 supplement out there
- Despite the lack of allergens and additives, some users reported severe reactions including heartburn, palpitations etc.
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamins are unique because they are not synthesized in enough quantities in the human body. Our bodies can only store so much of them so it is important to get the required daily amount of each vitamin to keep your health in good shape.
That said, vitamin B12, unlike other vitamins, can be stored in reserves that can last for many years.
Vitamin B12 is one of the indispensable water soluble vitamins that play several key roles throughout the body.
In fact, it is essential for the formation of red blood cells, the development and maintenance of a robust nervous system and the production of DNA.
The term B12 is a single name given to a bunch of compounds known as Cobalamins. Also referred to as the Corrinoids, all of these compounds contain the element Cobalt.
The amount of vitamin B12 you need on a daily basis largely depends on your age. Research states that the average adult needs around 2.5mcg of vitamin B12 per day, although pregnant women and breastfeeding women might need a bit more then that.
What Does Vitamin B12 Do in the Human Body?
Once the vitamin has been absorbed by the human body, it starts it’s functioning mainly by working along with three major enzymes to help in the synthesis of DNA, RNA and the formation of red blood cells.
There’s evidence to confirm that vitamin B12, along with folic acid and vitamin B6, plays a key role in reducing elevated levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
The issue is that high levels of this amino acid could cause great damage to arterial walls and make it difficult for blood vessels to expand, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Vitamin B12 works in tandem with vitamin B9, also known as folic acid or folate. It helps iron work better and to produce S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound that is said to be closely involved in mood and outlook as well as immune function.
Being a critical vitamin, B12 is also directly involved in the development and maintenance of all the cells in your body and affect organs as major as your brain to more minor things such as your mood.
Following are some key functions of vitamin B12:
- Helps transform food into energy
- Keeps homocysteine levels low and protects your heart
- Facilitates nervous system development and protects myelin sheaths around nerve fibers from toxins and free radicals
- Helps in the upkeep of general cognitive functioning and slows down age-related cognitive decline such as that seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease
Vitamin B12 and Testosterone
Even though there is not much concrete evidence coming out of these studies to suggest any direct effect on testosterone, it is likely that there is an interaction between vitamin B12 and testosterone since they have several key functions in common.
For one, testosterone plays as an important role as B12 (in tandem with folic acid and iron) in production of red blood cells by the stem cells in the bone marrow.
In the same way, vitamin B12 is known to play a key role in combating hormone imbalance issues and increasing hormonal efficiency of your endocrine system.
One reason for this is that elevated homocysteine levels are associated with hormone imbalance and vitamin B12 can help reduce homocysteine.
Without the stabilizing effect that B12 has on your cell membranes, your endocrine system may still excrete hormones but the odds of those hormones entering the cells and producing their effects are low.
Moreover, studies suggest that taking the best b complex vitamin supplement could have a positive effect on sperm concentration and motility, which is also highly correlated to testosterone levels.
It might be safe to say that there could be a synergistic effect with B12 supplementation. More studies should be conducted to determine how instrumental adequate levels of vitamin B12 is to keep testosterone levels optimal.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Ruminants such as cows and sheep are known to absorb the vitamin made by anaerobic microorganisms that live in their digestive tract and pass it along to us in the form of milk or meat.
While plants simply don’t have the enzymes required to synthesize vitamin B12 naturally, experimental studies show that plants cultivated in B12 enriched soil and water might take up B12.
Although such studies have opened up a new area of potential research, it is still certain that for humans, animal sources are more reliable then plants.
The best way for you to meet your dietary requirement of this indispensable vitamin is to eat animal foods or take dietary supplements (for example if you are vegan).
In it’s most natural form, vitamin B12 is available in fairly large quantities mainly in animal foods.
While traditional dietary beliefs claim that fruits and vegetables have superior concentrations of micronutrients compared to most other types of foods, some speculate that their micronutrient content doesn’t stack up against what’s found in organ meats - particularly the liver.
Touted as one of the most nutrient rich foods available, the liver, gram for gram, boasts a high concentration of nutrients that include the whole group of B complex vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and a high number of important minerals such as iron and copper.
Beef liver is the best vitamin B12 food. No wonder why deadly predators such as lions, tigers and sharks eat the liver first after they catch hold of their prey.
Some might have a few concerns about eating organ meats and might not like the taste or consider it clean. No matter what your preference is it cannot be denied that liver is one of the most potent superfoods available.
Many bodybuilders make it their go-to choice of food to meet their high dietary requirements of protein and key nutrients to keep up with their training. In fact, before the era of anabolic steroids, bodybuilders used to take desiccated liver tablets as a supplement to enjoy all the benefits of liver with no unpleasant taste.
Liver is a natural anabolic food and those athletes who consume it regularly are able to build muscle more efficiently, grow stronger and recover faster.
Animal sources are thus your best bet for vitamin B12 when you are looking for a source of this essential nutrient, while also giving you a rich supply of other vitamins and minerals.
Sources include fish, shellfish, red meat and turkey. Lesser amounts of B12 are available in eggs, dairy, and chicken as well.
Some of the top sources of vitamin B12 in animal foods are as follows:
- Red meat
- Liver (beef)
- Sea foods such as sardines, mackerel, herrings, crabs, oysters
- Fresh water fish such as salmon, trout
So you’re a vegan and you’re wondering “Am I getting enough vitamin B12 from my diet?”
Of all the questions concerning nutrition that can be perplexing for vegans, why Mother Nature left the all-important vitamin B12 out of the plant foods is the most confounding.
Yes, plant sources are not rich in vitamin B12, and moreover, the vitamin is poorly absorbed from them. Industrial farming practices have sterilized the soil so much, killing all the microorganisms which plants can absorb the elusive vitamin from. However, there are quite a few seaweed plant sources and micro organisms like Spirulina and Chlorella with good traces of this vitamin in them.
To completely avoid the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, vegans can eat plant sources of vitamin B12 in fortified cereals, fortified nutritional yeast, fortified soy products or take the best B12 supplement two or three times a week to meet the dietary requirement of the vitamin.
However we strongly suggest not consuming soy products as a vegan since soy can have negative effects on male hormonal balance.
Vegan Source of B12
Even though there is no positive evidence to support that vegans suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency more often than the general population, studies suggest they do have lower concentrations of B12 in their blood than people who consume meat and milk.
This makes sense, because whether or not plants are a good source of vitamin B12, the animal sources mentioned above are for sure the best sources of B12 there is.
Are you a vegan? Or are you planning to turn vegan?
There’s no need to panic. Either way, your body could have enough amounts of B12 in store to last several years, and it can take a long time, anywhere from one to nine years for the body to completely use up it’s B12 reserves.
But better safe then sorry, you should start looking for a way to incorporate vitamin B12 into your diet today.
Vegan pregnant women and lactating women should think about taking a vegan B12 supplement, which supports overall neurological development of the baby and ensures that enough vitamins are transmitted through the mother’s breast milk to her newborn.
From all the dietary experiments and blood tests we’ve done over the years here at Anabolic Health, it is safe to say that vegan diets that are rich in grains have enough anti-nutrients in them to drain your body of some crucial vitamins and minerals such as iron.
And as we know, iron goes hand in hand with B12 for red blood cells production. No matter what kind of supplements you take, anti nutrients such as lectins, phytates and gluten do enough damage to deplete the levels of nutrients that your body need for optimal growth and development.
Bear in mind that it could be very hard for your body to rebuild it’s vitamin B12 and iron stores once it has run out of it’s natural reserves.
Worse yet, if you also have malabsorption issues due to poor gut health, you may end up absorbing very little amount of these essential nutrients, leaving your body screaming for more.
Different Forms of Vitamin B12 Supplementation
This is the most inexpensive and easy to synthesize form of vitamin B12 available.
Although this form is said to protect B12 from say extreme conditions such as high temperature, it is stubborn in that it doesn’t let the vitamin get free easily to be utilised by your body.
Cyanocobalamin has a poor absorption rate (usually excreted within a few hours and can leave toxic remains in your body).
Although B12 is essentially non-toxic and risk-free even in high doses, people with neurological disorders, multiple sclerosis, allergic reactions and rare diseases such as Leber’s disease should particularly avoid taking Cyanocobalamin form of vitamin B12.
More distressing is that the literature contains numerous studies that demonstrate that people who take a daily dose of this form of B12 often complain of depression, severe fatigue and foggy thinking.
These symptoms are in turn something that vitamin B12 should actually be able to treat if you use a good form of the vitamin. Cyanocobalamin is NOT a good form of B12.
This preparation of B12 can be used by our bodies but only after it has been converted to Methylcobalamin in the body. Furthermore, it is quite hard to produce and thus can be very expensive.
Research suggests that Hydroxocobalamin is more available to cells, processed with more efficiency and has better retention properties than Cyanocobalamin.
In general we like this form the best unless you particularly require the active methylated form Methylcobalamin.
Adenosylcobalamin and Methylcobalamin
These are the only active forms of the vitamin our bodies can use. When you eat foods rich in B12, take vegan B12 supplements, or even get a B12 injection, the human body will convert it into these active forms to enter cells.
Adenosylcobalamin is largely found in cellular tissues and is retained by the mitochondria, which is the energy production center of the cells.
Methylcobalamin, on the other hand, is readily available in blood plasma, cerebral spinal fluid, and the cytosol in cells that need it.
Methylcobalamin, studies indicate, is more effective in treating the neurological abnormalities caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.
It’s greater effectiveness stems partly from the fact that it bypasses many potentially complicated steps involved in vitamin B12 metabolism.
Overall, you can take any form of vitamin B12 apart from Cyanocobalamin. To get the best results in most people, it is important to take recommended quantities of B12 Methylcobalamin.
Individuals who have Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genetic mutations should proceed cautiously with taking high doses of methyl B12 supplements. They’d rather be better off with vitamin B12 types Adenosylcobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin.
Methylation Cycle and B12
Set off by MTHFR genes, Methylation is a multi step process that is particularly essential to bind and eliminate toxins, heavy metals, free radicals, make phospholipids, neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, protect against cardiovascular disease and control the activity and expression of genes in our DNA.
People with MTHFR gene mutation can often not tolerate using the active or synthetic forms of vitamin B12.
Traditional research studies recommended folic acid form of folate for most people. For people who have MTHFR gene mutation, recent studies show contrasting evidence that naturally occurring 5-MTHF type of folate are better than the synthetic folic acid.
In fact, patients with MTHFR gene mutation should add a lot of folate rich foods just to make sure they get enough through dietary intake.
Some rich sources include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, mustard greens, turnip greens, cauliflower, and lettuce.
If you have a mutated MTHFR gene, you cannot alter it. However, you can help it do it’s job better and reduce the risk of serious health issues.
Among all the ways to enhance your methylation cycle, getting the most optimal type of B12 and folate is certainly your safest bet.
In a recent study conducted by doctors at the Saarland University Hospital, it was found that aged people with low levels of B vitamins are more likely to have shorter telomere lengths and reduced methylation.
Telomere length can be used as a marker of aging at the cellular level, their shortening over time may play a crucial role in several diseases of aging such as cardiovascular disease and liver dysfunction.
In short, drastic shortening of telomere lengths is an indicator of premature aging and a higher risk of death.
Also, if you have a COMT gene mutation, you might need to take B12 supplements formulated with Adenosyl-B12 and Hydroxo-B12.
It is recommended that you avoid taking Methyl-B12 since it is a methyl donor and can lead people with COMT mutations into an over stimulated state causing anxiety and distress.
Vitamin B12 deficiency, if not given proper treatment in time, damages myelin, making it harder for the neurons to send electrical impulses, and eventually causing a serious disorder in the brain and spinal cord.
Furthermore, scientists provide interesting evidence implicating lack of sufficient B12 levels in the development of MS - meaning that B12 deficiency could be one of the critical factors contributing to onset of MS.
Worse yet, the symptoms of B12 deficiency are almost indistinguishable from the symptoms of MS leading to frequent misdiagnosis. Although B12 deficiencies are in general reversible in early stages, MS is not curable at all and is a chronic disease.
Why You Can’t Ignore Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The other less serious symptoms of this deficiency may include fatigue, muscle weakness, low blood pressure, shakiness, incontinence, mental issues such as depression, mood disorders and cognitive issues like confusion and poor memory.
If you’re someone who is B12 deficient, even the smallest dental or surgical procedures can turn dangerous.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
In some cases, it can also appear fairly quickly. Given the wide range of symptoms this condition can cause, it is often ignored or confused with other conditions.
Early symptoms of B12 deficiency include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of Breath
- Digestive issues
- Tingling sensation in extremities
- Loss of Balance
- Memory loss
Most of these symptoms could be reversed with good vitamin B12 methylcobalamin supplementation. Keep track of your B12 levels by doing a blood test:
Serious Effects of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
As mentioned in the earlier section, prolonged deficiency could lead to some serious health issues such as pernicious anemia, senile dementia in adults and poor red blood cell formation and function in infants.
In Adults - Poor Athletic Performance
Studies show that poor athletic performance may actually be related to vitamin B12 deficiency.
After reviewing many studies on the B vitamin and it’s role in cell regeneration and energy metabolism, researchers from Oregon State University determined that competitive athletes lacking B vitamins, mainly B12 and folate, may not be able to perform demanding and high intensity exercises well.
In addition, their body may have decreased ability to repair and build muscle then their healthy counterparts with normal B12 and folate levels.
In Elderly People - Pernicious Anemia
Many studies implicate lack of B12 vitamin as a serious cause of pernicious anemia in aged people, due not only to poor dietary habits but also to poor digestion of protein.
Protein digestion is a process which tends to be particularly poor in elderly people because they cannot produce enough intrinsic factor in their stomach acid to facilitate protein breakdown. Without this, your body cannot absorb vitamin B12 from animal protein.
The destructive condition called pernicious anemia is a serious blood disease that can lead to spinal cord and brain degeneration.
If left untreated, this could progress into a severe condition that can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system, and in a few cases, can lead to death.
More often than not, this condition develops gradually, not manifesting itself until as long as 5 to 10 years of prolonged B12 deficiency.
Different Kinds of Vitamin B12 Supplements
Since this elusive vitamin requires a special absorption process that may not be robust in certain individuals, some people may not benefit from using oral supplements.
Sublinguals, which are meant to be held under the tongue for quick absorption through the mucous membrane, can be more effective then oral supplements for some people.
B12 patches are a great way to get all the goodness of B12 vitamins delivered directly into your bloodstream. Known to be more efficient than oral supplements, these patches contain active ingredients that are delivered right through your skin, bypassing the stomach.
These patches are quite tiny and are usually placed right behind the ear. What’s cool about wearing one is that you most often just have to replace it once per week.
In other words you don’t have to worry about the number of pills you should take each day. Stick on a B12 patch and just forget about it.
Another common method to supplement your levels of B12 is to take B12 shots as per physician’s recommendation.
We think using B12 topicals and B12 patches is the best way for vitamin B12 to be absorbed by your body. By using these types of supplements, you can make sure all the active ingredients make their way into your bloodstream to give you the most benefits from supplementation.
Why Is It Important to Take Vitamin B12 Supplements?
With today’s average American diet, it’s actually pretty easy to become deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, either by not getting enough vitamin B12 because of low food quality or not absorbing it due to some digestive issue.
If nutrition is not your top priority you can end up with impaired functioning, simply because you might be missing essential vitamins such as B12 which are key cofactors of many essential biochemical reactions in your body.
As mentioned earlier, B12 is largely found in animal sources like red meat, salmon, eggs, milk and cheese. If you’re vegan, you are likely to be deficient and will need to take the best vitamin b complex to boost your energy levels.
After researching different forms of B12 supplements and testing B12 products, these are our top three recommendations for you:
Top pick for people with no serious diseases or genetic disorders:
Vita Sciences Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin Cream Skin Health
(Most people do great on this one and we suggest you try it first)
Top pick for people with MTHFR genetic mutations or complex chronic health issues:
Neuro-Immune Stabilizer Topical Cream
Top pick for people with COMT genetic mutations:
Seeking Health Hydroxo B12
Many of us may be taking vitamin supplements quite regularly, and it is widely believed that they power up energy levels, enhance bodily functions and slow down ageing. But it all comes down to the quality of the supplements you take.
It’s good to pick a reputed brand as supplements are not well regulated the way over-the-counter medicines are.
Even though vitamin B12 pills, patches or sublinguals, should contain exactly what it says on the label, some brands with lower quality may cause serious problems.
This is why we created this guide to help you pick the best B12 supplement on the market to help you improve your health and conquer disease, once and for all.
Product image credits: Amazon.com