The Best Way To Take Vitamin B12 Supplements
Vitamin B12 is essential to healthy red blood cell formation and proper neurological functioning, but a lot of people who are deficient go undiagnosed. Your doctor can help you determine if you are in need of a supplement to bring you up to healthy levels. Vitamin B12 is prevalent in foods, but you can also get it through supplements that come in various forms, including injectable, sublingual and oral. The type that’s best for you depends on the reason for your deficiency and your preferences.
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Should You Take Vitamin B12 Supplements With Food
Vitamin B12 supplements are especially important for vegans, so it makes sense to pay a bit of extra attention to when youre consuming them. See my guide to the best vitamin B12 supplements if you need to find one.
Vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins absorb best alongside food , while water-soluble vitamins have to dissolve in water in order to be absorbed.
Since vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, it should ideally be taken on an empty stomach, along with some water. This goes for all other B vitamins as well.
How To Diagnose A Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The best way to see if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency is to visit your healthcare provider and take a blood test. On the day of your visit, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and draw blood to determine your B12 levels in blood serum. This blood test will analyze serum levels and can also help determine if you have any other vitamin deficiencies.
Your doctor may also order a methylmalonic acid test to confirm the results of the blood test. In certain cases, your doctor may recommend a bone marrow biopsy to determine the source of the deficiency.
Often, seniors will experience both vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies at the same time. Thats because both of these nutrients play a key role in blood cell production and can be inhibited by medical conditions. If your doctor determines you have a deficiency, they may recommend you get vitamin B12 injections or take vitamin B12 supplements.
You can take oral vitamin B12 supplements, or the doctor may recommend certain foods that contain large amounts of B12. Some individuals will only need to take these supplements for a short period while others, particularly those with anemia, may need to take them long-term.
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Why Do People Take Vitamin B
Vitamin B-12 has been looked at as a treatment for many diseases and conditions. These include fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, breast cancer, high cholesterol, and sickle cell disease. However, the results have been inconclusive. Studies suggest that vitamin B-12 does not help with stroke risk or lung cancer.
Vitamin B-12 supplements do help people who have a deficiency. Low levels of vitamin B-12 are more likely in people over age 50. Vitamin B-12 is also more common in those with certain conditions, like digestive problems and some types of anemia. Low vitamin B-12 can cause fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and other problems with the nervous system.
A recent study showed that vitamin B-12, used with folic acid and vitamin B6, reduces the risk for age-related macular degeneration in women with heart disease or multiple risk factors for heart disease.
When To Take Vitamin B12
Here’s the TL DR on vitamin timing: while there is no official medical advice dictating that you should take vitamin supplements at a specific time of day to improve their efficiency, there is quite a lot of research showing that avoiding some vitamin supplements at particular times can improve absorption, or that taking some vitamins alongside food can reduce the risk of adverse side effects.
The specific advice on the best time to take your chosen supplements will depend on the type of vitamin you’re dealing with: fat-soluble or water-soluble.
In the case of water-soluble vitamins like B12, vitamin C, folic acid, and other B vitamins, some medically reviewed literature points to early morning as the optimal time to take them as they can be taken on an empty stomach, but more peer-reviewed research is needed to confirm this claim. What has been proven, however, is that the vitamin B complex can help reduce stress, so if you’re looking to start the day in the best mood, taking these supplements early in the morning before any meal is the way to go!
On top of that, it’s important to know that the majority of water-soluble nutrients cannot be stored by our body for later use, meaning that our system will only be able to absorb so much in a given period. The optimal course of action is to consume exactly what you need upon waking up, forget about it, and go on with your day knowing your nutrient requirements are all taken care of.
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Food Sources Of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria in the bodies of certain animals, so foods containing B12 are only animal-based foods. Beef liver and clams contain the most vitamin B12 per serving. Plant-based foods are often fortified with B12, useful if you don’t eat meat or fish. Examples of foods containing vitamin B12 include:
- Meat: beef, pork, lamb, venison, organ meats
- Fish and seafood
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
- Dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, eggs
- Fortified foods: such as grains, cereals and health bars, plant milks, nutritional yeast and some soy products
Side Effects And Interactions
If you take high-dose vitamin B12 supplements to treat a deficiency, you may experience some side effects, including:
Vitamin B12 has a low potential for toxicity, but high amounts may interact with certain medications. Some possible interactions include:
- Aminosalicylic acid, used to treat digestive problems
- Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat gout
- Metformin, a diabetes drug
- Proton pump inhibitors or other stomach acid-reducing drugs
- Vitamin C supplements take vitamin C at least two hours after taking a vitamin B12 supplement.
Always consult with your health care provider before taking any supplements, especially if you are on other supplements or medications.
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Nasal And Topical Supplements
Nasal administration of vitamin B12 is a possible alternative to oral dosing or injections. It comes in a gel that you apply inside your nostrils. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that, although this form seems to effectively raise vitamin B12 levels, it hasn’t been thoroughly vetted in a scientific setting. Because it’s less proven than oral and injectable methods, intranasal vitamin B12 is usually prescribed only to those whose levels have been restored to normal with injections and who are considered to be in remission.
When Is The Best Time To Take Multivitamins
Multivitamins can be trickier: They often contain both water- and fat-soluble vitamins. The best time to take a multivitamin is with food so any fat can help with absorption. You can also drink a water-based beverage to wash it all down, notes Dr. Perez-Gallardo. But the drawback is that your body wont absorb the water-soluble vitamins as well as fat-soluble ones.
The reverse is true when you take a multivitamin on an empty stomach with water your body cant properly absorb the fat-soluble vitamins. You could also end up with an upset stomach. So for full absorption, Dr. Perez-Gallardo recommends taking water- and fat-soluble vitamins separately.
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Signs Of Deficiency And Toxicity
Measuring vitamin B12 in the blood is actually not the best way to determine whether someone is deficient, as some people with a deficiency can show normal B12 blood levels. Blood levels of methylmalonic acid, a protein breakdown product, and homocysteine are better markers that capture actual vitamin B12 activity. These values increase with a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is estimated that up to 15% of the general population has a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Factors that may cause vitamin B12 deficiency:
Signs of deficiency may include:
- Megaloblastic anemiaa condition of larger than normal sized red blood cells and a smaller than normal amount this occurs because there is not enough vitamin B12 in the diet or poor absorption
- Pernicious anemiaa type of megaloblastic anemia caused by a lack of intrinsic factor so that vitamin B12 is not absorbed
- Fatigue, weakness
Vitamin B12 Dosage For Certain Conditions
Certain health conditions increase the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. This is usually an issue of malabsorption or taking medications that interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12. Sometimes, dietary changes are needed to ensure that people with certain conditions consume enough vitamin B12, and other times a B12 supplement is recommended.
Fatigue: People with a B12 deficiency may experience fatigue or lack of energy. Research shows that to correct a deficiency, taking one milligram daily for one month is effective. This can be followed by a maintenance dose of 125250 micrograms per day.
Depression: Research shows that patients with major depression have low folate and vitamin B12 status. According to a review published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, oral doses of 800 micrograms of folic acid and one milligram of vitamin B12 daily may help improve treatment outcomes for depression.
Gastrointestinal issues: People with gastrointestinal disorders, like Crohns disease and celiac disease, may have issues absorbing vitamin B12 from food. People who have had gastrointestinal surgery may also have problems absorbing vitamin B12 from foods. Patients with gastrointestinal issues may receive one-milligram doses of vitamin B12, in either injection or oral forms.
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Best Time To Take Fat Soluble Vitamins
The four fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Unlike water soluble vitamins, the body only requires small doses of fat soluble vitamins. Furthermore, high doses have been shown to cause undesirable side effects and toxicity.
Because of the small dosage requirements, fat soluble vitamins can be acquired through diet alone, with the important exception of Vitamin D, which your body produces when youre exposed to sunlight.
If you decide to include fat soluble vitamins in your supplements regimen, it is best to take them together with a fatty meal. Some studies suggest taking fat soluble vitamins with fish or cod liver oil to boost absorption especially for lactating women.
To maximize the health benefits of both fat soluble vitamins and the fats you consume them with, it is sensible to opt for healthy oils such as flaxseed or olive oil. Eating nuts, seeds, and even avocados alongside fat soluble vitamin intake also boosts absorption. Some studies suggest that it may be best to avoid taking Vitamin D at night to avoid sleep disturbance.
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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Incorporating It Into Your Morning
Many people prefer to take supplements such as vitamin D first thing in the morning.
Not only is it often more convenient, but its also easier to remember your vitamins in the morning than later in the day.
This is especially true if youre taking multiple supplements, as it can be challenging to stagger supplements or medications throughout the day.
For this reason, it may be best to get in the habit of taking your vitamin D supplement with a healthy breakfast.
Using a pillbox, setting an alarm or storing your supplements near your dining table are a few simple strategies to remind you to take your vitamin D.
Some people may find that taking vitamin D first thing in the morning is more convenient and easier to remember than taking it later on.
Can B12 Make You Tired
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. They occur because your body doesnt have enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. As a result, you are unable to efficiently transport oxygen to your bodys cells, making you feel tired and weak.
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What If I Forget To Take It
If you forget to take cyanocobalamin tablets, take your usual dose as soon as you remember, unless its nearly time for your next dose. In this case just leave out the missed dose and take your next one as normal.
Never take more than your usual number of tablets at one time. Never take extra tablets to make up for forgotten ones.
If you forget your tablets often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
Not All Vitamins Are The Same
The best way to take vitamins and supplements varies according to what the active ingredients of the supplements are, and also their purpose, and the body type of the consumer. In this section we will discuss the differences when it comes to taking fat soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins, B vitamins, and prenatal vitamins.
We will also list common drug prescriptions and their interactions with nutrient levels and vitamin supplementation.
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What If I Take Too Much
Taking an extra dose of cyanocobalamin tablets is unlikely to harm you.
Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice now if:
- you have taken more than two 1,000 microgram tablets of cyanocobalamin
- you have taken more than your usual dose and feel sick, vomit or have diarrhoea, or feel worried
Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111
If you need advice for a child under the age of 5 years, call 111.
Who Can And Cannot Take Cyanocobalamin
Most adults and children aged 2 years and over can take cyanocobalamin.
Its not suitable for everyone. To make sure its safe for you, tell your doctor before starting cyanocobalamin if you:
- have ever had an allergic reaction to cyanocobalamin or any other medicine
- have an allergy to cobalt
Some cyanocobalamin tablets may not be suitable for people on a vegan diet.
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Best Time To Take B12
There are several factors to consider when deciding when is the best time to take B12.
B vitamins are water-soluble and excess amounts are generally excreted with your urine. Many multivitamins contain a high B12 dosage, as much as 25 micrograms, which is more than 400 percent of the recommended daily value, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Although vitamin B12 can be stored in your liver, if you are taking supplements to treat a deficiency, not all of the vitamin B12 can be used by your body at once. For example, about 20 micrograms from a 1,000 microgram oral B12 dosage supplement are absorbed by your body. Therefore, instead of taking a high B12 dosage in a supplement all at once, splitting the amount can ensure steady blood levels.
If the vitamin B12 is in the form of a time-release capsule, it will dissolve much slower and over an extended period of time. With the vitamin released incrementally into your blood, you eliminate the chance of excreting too much excess from your body.
What Are The Risks Of Taking Vitamin B
- Side effects and risks. Taken at normal doses, side effects are rare. High doses may cause acne. Allergies to vitamin B-12 supplements have been reported and can cause swelling, itchy skin, and shock.
- Interactions. Drugs for acid reflux, diabetes, and other conditions may make it harder for your body to absorb vitamin B-12.
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When Should You Take Vitamin B12 Morning Or Night
In the case of vitamin B12, the best time to ingest it is the morning for the below given reasons. Vitamins are essential organic substances for the life of the human being. The organism does not manufacture them but obtains them daily through food. Vitamins are micronutrients that the human body needs in small amounts to improve the immune system.
They are normally found in food, but we can also incorporate them into the body in the form of food supplements, liquids, or solids. In this case you have to control the consumption to be effective for the body.
Vitamins reduce the risk of diseases if taken correctly. However, certain vitamins cannot be absorbed by the body if they are not taken without eating or the dosage is not correct.
It is advisable to consult with the doctor or the pharmacist before taking vitamins since some of them can cause serious side effects if you have a chronic disease or are taken with other medicines.
The body needs vitamins to function properly. However, with the exception of vitamin D, the body is not able to produce them on its own.
The vitamins should be taken with a good glass of water so that they go directly to the stomach and are absorbed quickly. Conversely, vitamins should not be taken with too hot or cold drinks because they do not dissolve properly.
Vitamins cannot replace the intake of healthy foods, although they provide certain nutrients that some foods lack.