By Jill Levy
B vitamins, including vitamin B12, serve as essential helpers in the conversion of nutrients found in foods, which means getting enough of these nutrients is key for keeping your mind and body energized.
Vitamin B12, like other B vitamins, is water-soluble, meaning it needs to be replenished often via consumption of B12 foods and/or supplements.
In addition to getting this vitamin from your diet, such as from meat, eggs and fish, you may choose to add a B12 supplement to your routine to help meet your needs. Which type of B12 is best?
Below we’ll discuss what to look for in the best B12 supplements, plus who is most likely to benefit from supplementing with extra B12. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation.
Is B12 Missing From Your Diet?
Vitamin B12, also called methylcobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that we all require in small amounts from our diets each day.
According to authorities like the National Institutes of Health, most people in the United States likely obtain enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat — however, some people have trouble getting enough vitamin B12 due to dietary choices and more.
You can obtain B12 by eating foods like grass-fed meats, organ meats like liver, eggs, cheese, nutritional yeast and wild-caught fish. Animal-derived foods are generally the best sources, which means that people can benefit from taking a vitamin B12 supplement if they eat an entirely plant-based diet.
Other than nutritional yeast, most plant foods don’t provide B12, which is why it’s generally recommended that those following a vegetarian diet supplement with this vitamin.
While spirulina, dried nori, barley grass and most other seaweeds contain some B12 (dirt even contains some), consuming these foods hasn’t been shown to provide enough B12 to vegans.
Who else can benefit from taking a vitamin B12 supplement? Other than vegans/vegetarians, a B12 supplement may be beneficial for people who fall into these categories:
- Adults over the age of 50.
- People wanting to boost their vitamin B12 intake.
- Women are pregnant or breastfeeding.
B12 is one of the best supplements for supporting healthy energy levels and may benefit those generally seeking a boost in energy.
It plays a role in maintaining healthy red blood cells, and also supports cognitive and neurological health. Other benefits include promoting restful sleep, eye health,and offering cardiovascular health support.
Additionally, when combined with other superfood nutrients and herbs (such is the case with Ancient Nutrition’s B12 supplement), a high-quality B12 supplement may help support endurance in high-intensity exercises and healthy recovery from exercise.
Ancient Nutrition's B12 Supplement
There are several different types of vitamin B12 supplements and other formats available today, including: capsules/pills, sublingual forms of B12 (which are dissolved under the tongue), nasal gel form, B12 injections, and B12 ointments and creams.
Ancient Nutrition's B12 supplement is a co-enzymated form of methylcobalamin taken in capsule form that is formulated from real food sources, which can help to support absorption. This specific methylcobalamin form is typically the easiest for the body to use.
This unique formula also features multi-kingdom ingredients inspired by TCM (Traditional Chinese Method) — such as Rosa roxburghii fruit extract that features antioxidants and reishi mushroom extract that generally helps support a healthy immune system.
Additionally, bovine liver is included in this B12 formula due to its featuring vitamins A, D, B12, B2, B3, B5, B6, omega-3s, iron, folate, zinc and more.
Keep in mind that this formula is not vegan, due to inclusion of bone broth and liver. An alternative supplement option for vegans could be supplementing with 25 to 100 mcg of vitamin B12 per day, such in the form of cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin or some combination of these three. Vegan B12 supplements are not produced by animals, but by bacterial fermentation.
How much B12 should you take each day? This depends on factors including the quality of your diet and if you avoid any food groups (such as animal-derived foods), your general health status, and whether or not your doctor has told you that you have any symptoms tied to having low B12 levels.
The daily recommended intake (the minimum amount that people need for general health) for B12 is 2.4 mcg per day for adults, 2.6 mcg per day during pregnancy and 2.8 mcg per day while breastfeeding.
If supplementing to help meet your needs, B12 can be taken with or without food; however, you should always read and follow the label directions and suggested use.
B12 vs. B Complex
A vitamin B complex contains multiple B vitamins that can help you to support healthy energy levels and maintain your overall health.
A B complex supplement that also includes B12 can be helpful for supporting not only healthy levels of B12, but also for promoting healthy cognitive function, sleep, energy, eye health and cardiovascular health.
Generally speaking, B12 is a safe vitamin to supplement with because it’s water soluble, meaning extra amounts that your body doesn’t need will be flushed out via urine. Still, it’s important to follow the label and suggested use recommendations and to consult your doctor prior to using and are unsure about how much, or which type, to take.
When choosing a supplement, opt for those made without fillers, dyes or artificial colors or flavors. If you follow a specific diet, check ingredients carefully to ensure you’re getting a vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free supplement.
- B vitamins, including vitamin B12, can help to support healthy energy levels, cognitive function, sleep, eye health and cardiovascular health.
- Since B vitamins are water-soluble, they need to be replenished often (if not every day) through diet and/or supplementation.
- B12 supplements may also be labeled as methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the form that’s typically the easiest for the body to use, and the type found in Ancient Nutriton’s B12 supplement.
- Plant-based eaters (those who avoid animal products) are often encouraged to add a B12 vitamin to their diet, since plant foods do not typically provide this key nutrient. The best B12 supplement for vegans can include some combination of methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin or adenosylcobalamin.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.