How Much Vitamin B12 Should I Take
May 18, 2022Vitamins & Supplements
Quick Health Scoop
- Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that must be ingested daily because our bodies dont naturally produce it.
- B12 is important for many enzymatic processes, such as helping turn the food you eat into usable energy.
- The recommended daily amount for B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults. Pregnant and lactating women need higher amounts .
- There is no upper intake limit for vitamin B12 because there is no known toxicity .
- Most vitamin B12 supplements provide a range of strengths between 500 to 5,000 mcg .
- Taking a vitamin B12 supplement may help reduce fatigue for those with low vitamin B12
Vitamin B can be classified into eight different nutrients, each with benefits for our overall health. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that our bodies dont naturally produce enough of on their own and is therefore considered an essential nutrient. That means we need to ingest vitamin B12 from foods and/or supplements every day .
Where do we get vitamin B12? B12 is found in all animal products . Some non-animal-based foods are fortified with vitamin B12, such as breakfast cereals, non-dairy milk, and nutritional yeast .
How Do You Consume The Daily Recommended Amount Of Vitamin B12
If you eat animal products, aim for four palm-sized portions a day, says St. Pierre. Beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and seafood are good sourcesin fact, just two small mussels provide a days worth of vitamin B12but so are Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
If youre vegan or restricting your meat consumption, turn to fortified cereals, nondairy milk, or nutritional yeast, a vegan standby that has a cheesy taste and contains 100 percent of your daily dose of B12 in just one tablespoon, says Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., an adjunct professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Wait, what’s “fortified cereal?” It’s basically most boxed cereals.
Food manufacturers have added minerals and vitamins, including B12, to products like cereal for almost 100 years.
Yes, sugary cereals are fortified, too. That doesnt make them healthy.
How Much Vitamin B12 Is Too Much
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that plays many critical roles in your body.
Some people think that taking high doses of B12 rather than the recommended intake is best for their health.
This practice has led many to wonder how much of this vitamin is too much.
This article examines the health benefits, as well as potential risks of taking megadoses of B12.
Theres no question that vitamin B12 is essential for health.
This nutrient is responsible for numerous functions in your body, including red blood cell formation, energy production, DNA formation and nerve maintenance .
Though B12 is found in many foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products and fortified cereals, many people dont get enough of this important vitamin.
Health conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease , certain medications, genetic mutations, age and dietary restrictions can all contribute to an increased need for B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to serious complications such as nerve damage, anemia and fatigue, which is why those at risk should add a high-quality B12 supplement to their diet .
While people who consume adequate amounts of B12-rich foods and are able to properly absorb and utilize this nutrient dont necessarily need to supplement, taking extra B12 has been linked to some health benefits.
For example, studies show that supplemental B12 may benefit people without a deficiency in the following ways:
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Contraindications Of Vitamin B12
If you aren’t taking a B12 supplement, toxicity isn’t an issue. Since B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, it won’t build up in your body. There are some situations in which you should not take supplements or high doses of vitamin B12.
If you have Leber’s disease, large doses of vitamin B12 could lead to damage in your optic nerve and even blindness. If you have an allergy to cobalt, you should avoid vitamin B12 supplements until you have discussed it with your physician. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and discuss any other medications or supplements you are taking.
How Much Vitamin B12 Can You Have Per Day
Vitamin B-12 plays several important roles throughout your body, but you only require tiny amounts each day. You need B-12 to make new red blood cells, support normal brain function and to make new DNA and RNA, the genetic coding material inside cells. You should get adequate amounts of B-12 through your daily diet, but if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, or have certain health conditions, your B-12 levels may be abnormally low.
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Can You Take Too Much B12
Since B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, its generally considered safe, even at high doses. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been established for B12, due to its low level of toxicity. UL refers to the maximum daily dose of a vitamin unlikely to cause adverse side effects in the general population.
Is It Ok To Take 1000 Mcg Of B12 A Day
Many doctors believe that taking more than 2000 micrograms of B12 per day is not safe and can cause nerve damage, liver problems and other complications. The maximum amount of B12 that you should take is 10000 micrograms per day. You should not take more than 10000 micrograms of B12 unless you are under the care of a doctor who is treating a diagnosed B12 deficiency.
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The Right Dose Is The Key To Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treatment
Getting the right KIND of vitamin B12 is just the first step. As I said earlier, itâs likely that your doctor will recommend a vitamin b 12 dosage of 1000 micrograms per day. While studies have shown that this dose is effective to bring up vitamin B12 BLOOD LEVELS, the Facts about Vitamin B12 show that that this is often not a high enough vitamin b 12 dosage to make people feel as well as they could- andTHAT is what is important to YOU.
One study entitled Vitamin B-12: Placebo or Neglected Therapeutic Tool had people who felt fatigued, but had NORMAL vitamin B12 blood levels and kept giving higher doses of supplements until they had a âmaximum feeling of well beingâ. And the AVERAGE dose that it took to do this was 9000 micrograms per day, that is 9 milligrams. And that was the AVERAGE dose, this means that some people needed even higher doses than this to feel well. And these were people without a diagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency!
So, if you truly have Vitamin B12 deficiency, then you may need even more than these study participants!
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Can High Levels Of Vitamin B12 Become Dangerous To Seniors
The good thing about vitamin B12 treatment is that its extremely unlikely to overdose on vitamin B12. Unlike some other vitamins, vitamin B12 doesnt cause toxicity when levels are high.
If your parent is being treated for vitamin B12 deficiency, you dont need to worry that the doctors will overshoot. You just need to make sure a follow-up test has confirmed better vitamin B12 levels. Your family can then work with the doctors to find the right maintenance dose to prevent future vitamin B12 deficiency.
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Can People Have High Vitamin B
Healthcare professionals have not identified an upper limit blood level of vitamin B-12. The body will typically excrete excess vitamin B-12 that a person gets from the diet or via supplements.
The body does not absorb vitamin B-12 supplements very effectively. This means that even if a person takes very high amounts of vitamin B-12, their body still does not absorb a significant amount.
In addition, taking some medications may impair the bodys ability to absorb vitamin B-12. Examples of these medications include:
- chloramphenicol , which is an antibiotic
- H2 receptor antagonists
Vitamin B-12 supplements are safe to take during pregnancy.
In fact, the ODS recommend that women who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets should take vitamin B-12 supplements, as deficiency can severely affect the fetus.
For example, low vitamin B-12 levels in pregnant women can lead to an increased risk of neural tube defects, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and pregnancy loss, according to a review paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition .
The authors conducted a literature review on how frequently pregnant women were vitamin B-12 deficient. They found that, on average, around 25% of pregnant women were deficient in vitamin B-12 across all trimesters.
Research in the journal American Family Physician has found that the children of vitamin B-12 deficient women who breastfeed are more likely to experience failure to thrive, developmental delays, anemia, and weakness.
- appetite loss
B12 For Memory And Mood
Its commonly thought that taking vitamin B12 can boost your memory and mood. However, theres not a lot of evidence to support this theory.
Animal studies suggest that vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with memory impairment. Yet, theres currently no evidence that B12 supplements improve memory in humans who arent deficient .
In a large review, vitamin B12 supplements had no effect on depressive symptoms in the short term but may help prevent relapse over the long term (
There are no specific dosage recommendations for B12 supplements for mental performance or mood.
Optimal dosing of vitamin B12 varies by age, lifestyle, and dietary needs. The general recommendation for adults is 2.4 mcg. Older adults, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, require higher doses.
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What Happens If I Have Too Little Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is not common in people who have a balanced and varied diet however, it can happen to vegetarians and vegans, as they have limited sources of this vitamin in their diet. It can also be caused by specific health conditions that affect the absorption or use of this vitamin in our bodies, such as pernicious anaemia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, a disease that causes our bodies to form unusually large red blood cells in lower amounts. The few misshaped red blood cells then have difficulties delivering enough oxygen around the body, leading to constant fatigue and shortness of breath. This condition can also be caused by folate deficiency.
On the long-term, vitamin B12 can also harm the normal function of our nervous system and lead to irritability, memory disturbances, depression, and disorientation. In advanced stages of severe deficiencies, symptoms can be more serious and irreversible.
Recommended Dosage Of Vitamin B12 For Seniors
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that is necessary for many functions in the body including red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and nervous system function. It is found naturally in many different foods and also added to others. Your need for vital nutrients may increase as you get older. Your health care provider may recommend a variety of nutritious food options to obtain nutrients and prevent deficiencies.
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What Happens If You Dont Get Vitamin B12
There are serious consequences of Vitamin B12 deficiency. What you mightnt realise, however, is that your liver stores of Vitamin B12 can last up to five years, so it takes a long time for deficiency to occur. Whats more, the cause of deficiency is usually malabsorption rather than inadequate dietary intake.
Nonetheless, Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in tiredness, reduced energy levels and gut symptoms. The more severe outcomes of Vitamin B12 deficiency are vision loss, memory loss and even heart palpitations.
The people who have the highest risk of this serious deficiency are the elderly, those who follow a vegan diet and breast-fed babies of vegan mothers .
The Need For Speed: How Much B
If you are someone who has trouble swallowing large vitamin pills or simply do not have the time to stop and take your vitamins every two hours, we would recommend that you try a liquid supplement called B-12 Max. B-12 Max is a liquid supplement that you simply place one drop under your tongue and allow it to be absorbed into your blood stream. Each bottle of B-12 Max contains 500 drops, so if you take one drop per day, each bottle will last you one month. You can take more than one drop per day if you want, but keep in mind that taking too much B12 can cause toxic reactions and should not be done without the advice of your doctor.
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If You’re Pregnant Or Could Get Pregnant
If you’re pregnant, trying for a baby, or could get pregnant, it’s recommended that you take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement daily until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Folic acid supplements need to be taken before you get pregnant, so start taking them before you stop using contraception or if there’s a chance you might get pregnant.
This is to help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in your baby.
Some women have an increased risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect and are advised to take a higher dose of 5mg of folic acid each day until they’re 12 weeks pregnant.
This is important and unlikely to cause harm, as it’s taken on a short-term basis, but speak to your doctor first.
Get more advice about vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, including who should take a higher dose of folic acid.
Should You Take A Vitamin B12 Supplement
Vitamin B12 is a key nutrient for supporting energy levels and mental health.3 If you and your health care provider have decided you should supplement your vitamin B12 intake, you may benefit from taking a single benefit vitamin.5 Some multivitamins contain vitamin B12 along with other B vitamins and numerous other nutrients.
You can also seek out an energy support supplement that contains vitamin B12.
In various diets and lifestyles, you may get get enough vitamin B12 through the normal foods you eat. But if vitamin B12 is of concern, consider increasing your intake of some of the foods listed above, or speak with your health care provider about increasing your intake through a supplement.
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What Does Vitamin B12 Do
Vitamin B12 functions as a cofactor for two enzymes. A cofactor is a word that scientists use to describe molecules whose presence is essential for enzyme activity. Think of cofactors similarly to spark plugs in a car engine the ignition cant start without them.
Vitamin B12 plays many roles in the body: It helps support brain health and energy-yielding metabolism contributes to red blood cell formation and works with folate to support normal DNA synthesis, to name just a few things. So yeahpretty important.*
How Much Vitamin B12 Should I Take Daily
The Food and Nutrition Board sets the recommended daily allowance for most nutrients, whether a vitamin or mineral. The board also sets tolerable upper intake levels for these nutrients, which is the maximum amount that can be consumed daily without likely side effects. For vitamin B12, there is no set UL since there are currently no known side effects when consuming more than the RDA .
So then how much vitamin B12 should one ingest in a day? As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients from foods and supplements decreases, which means adults, especially those over age 50, might benefit from higher amounts of vitamin B12. In addition, vitamin B12 supplements usually range from 500 mcg to 5,000 mcg per serving to provide you with a variety of strengths and allow you to customize to meet your needs . Even though the RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults, you may take higher amounts since your body will only absorb what it needs and then excrete the rest .
Like vitamin D, daily intake of vitamin B12 is important to ensure you are supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to function.If you are taking a multivitamin or a B Complex vitamin, be sure to check the amount of vitamin B12 provided per serving so that you know how much B12 you are taking every day through your supplement to meet your daily nutrient needs, but also consider how much vitamin B12 you are getting from the foods you eat each day.
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Who Is At Risk Of A B12 Deficiency
While most people can access the full daily dose of B12 through their diet, some groups might need to supplement their diet in order to increase their intake.
Vegans and vegetarians
The natural sources of vitamin B12 are mostly animal-based food items, which leaves vegans and vegetarians at risk of deficiency.
Eating fortified foods and non-animal products which also contain B12 is essential to fulfil your dietary intake.
Qualified nutritionist Pooja Malhotra recommended the following foods for vegans and vegetarians low on B12:
- Fermented foods
- Nutritional yeast
Vitamin B12 And Anemia
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can contribute to your developing a type of anemia called megaloblastic or pernicious anemia. Because vitamin B12 is used in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of the nervous system, a deficiency can cause your body to manufacture inadequate red blood cells.
Pernicious anemia may have no symptoms and occurs most frequently in people who suffer either from an autoimmune disorder or who have a disease of malabsorption that prevents their bodies from absorbing enough vitamin B12. Treatment for this type of anemia depends on its severity, but usually involves B12 supplements.
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