Do I Need to Take Vitamin B12? The Importance of Vitamin B12

What is vitamin B12? 

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin found in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. It can be found in some vegan foods and drinks, but they are fortified, meaning the manufacturer added B12, rather than it occurring naturally. B12 also occurs in tempeh and some mushrooms but in small amounts.

That means that any vegan or vegetarian that avoids dairy needs to consciously add B12 into their diet. 


Do I need to take vitamin B12? 

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin your body cannot create; it must be consumed through your diet. Since it’s only found in animal products, anyone who avoids animal products is more at risk of being deficient. 

Vitamin B12 helps the body create healthy red blood cells and replicate healthy DNA, so it’s critical to your short and long-term health. While the liver can store excess B12 for later, you need to maintain your B12 intake to avoid a B12 deficiency. 

If you avoid meat and dairy products, you’ll need to supplement your diet to ensure you get enough vitamin B12. 


What are the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency? 

Mild vitamin B12 deficiencies may show little to no noticeable symptoms, so it’s important to be proactive about your B12 intake. Symptoms of more severe B12 deficiencies include: 

  • Fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • shortness of breath 
  • Pale complexion
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and digestive discomfort 
  • Tingling and numbness 
  • Vision loss 
  • Depression, anxiety, memory loss, and other unusual behavioural changes 

What’s the difference between B12 cyanocobalamin and B12 methylcobalamin? 

Once you start looking into B12 supplements, you’ll see that they contain different forms of B12; either cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin. 

Cyanocobalamin is the most common form of B12 used in supplements, largely because it is the most cost-effective option. The body must convert cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin, which is the active form of B12

Taking a form of B12 that uses cyanocobalamin can be problematic if there is any reason why your body may struggle to convert it, such as digestive problems. Our B12 vitamin is made with the active form of B12 (methylcobalamin), which means your body can absorb it more easily. Studies have shown that the body excretes 

up to three times more B12 cyanocobalamin when taken orally than B12 methylcobalamin, proving this effect. 

B12 with methylcobalamin and B9 with methylfolate are two of the most active forms of B vitamins and are essential for the methylation cycle in the body. This cycle is complicated and you don’t need to know how it works to understand its benefits; methylation helps your body detoxify, produce neurotransmitters, metabolise hormones, histamines, and amino acids, and protect DNA. When you give your body these “methyl” forms of these essential vitamins, it can reap these benefits more easily. 


What are the benefits of taking vitamin B12? 

  • It’s an essential nutrient you may not be getting elsewhere: If you don’t eat meat, fish, or much dairy, you need to pay attention to where you may be getting this nutrient. 
  • More energy: Vitamin B12 helps our bodies convert the food we eat into energy we can use. Without enough B12, much of our food will pass through without being properly converted, leading us to feel fatigued. When you eat enough vitamin B12, your body has what it needs to convert food properly and give you the energy you need to feel your best. 
  • Helps our bodies create healthy red blood cells: B12 and B9 (the other B vitamin we’ve released this month in the form of methylfolate) are essential for the creation of healthy blood cells and for preventing anaemia. 
  • Helps our bodies replicate DNA correctly: Our bodies replicate the DNA in cells every time a new cell is created, but if we’re deficient in B12, the DNA in the new cell is not as structurally stable. Since our bodies only copy the last DNA and not a base template, it’s important to protect the health of our DNA. 
  • Helps reduce nerve pain: Vitamin B12 has some specific uses in medicine, including as a form of pain relief for nerve pain due to nerve damage. Studies have found that it proved an effective form of pain relief for those suffering from nerve damage due to shingles. 
  • Believed to help protect the nervous system: While more studies need to be done, early research shows that B12 likely has neuroprotective qualities, meaning it helps protect the nervous system from damage. 
  • How much vitamin B12 do I need each day? 

    Sources vary on how much vitamin B12 adults need; while the NHS recommends that adults consume 1.5mcg of vitamin B12 a day, US sources recommend 2.4mcg a day, increasing to 2.6mcg if pregnant or 2.8mcg if breastfeeding. 

    Infants up to 6 months old need 0.4mcg a day, which they can get through their milk, provided it is fortified or the person breastfeeding them is consuming enough. Babies 7-12 months require 0.5mcg, children aged 1-3 require 0.9mcg, ages 4-8 need 1.2mcg, and children older need 1.5mcg. 

    Most vitamin B12 supplements and fortified foods will contain far more than the RDI to ensure the body has the opportunity to use as much as it needs, so if you’re taking a supplement, you won’t need to worry about whether or not you’re getting enough.

    The good news is excess B12 that is picked up by the body can be stored in the liver for later use. As your stores increase, you’ll start to truly feel the benefits in the form of more energy.


    Is vitamin B12 safe for those pregnant and breastfeeding? 

    Yes, vitamin B12 supplements are safe for those pregnant and breastfeeding, and it’s crucial to supplement your diet throughout your pregnancy to ensure you and your baby get sufficient levels of vitamin B12 if you don’t regularly eat meat or dairy. 


    Are there any side effects to taking vitamin B12? 

    No, there are no reported side effects, even at abnormally high doses - the body can flush unneeded B12 out of its system. That said, always stick to the dosage recommended on the packaging or by your doctor. 


    How do I take vitamin B12? 

    Taking our vitamin B12 supplement is incredibly simple! Simply take the

    recommended dosage with or without food, alone, or with your other supplements. Vitamin B12 supplements show no significant adverse reactions with common medications, but if you’re currently undergoing treatment it’s always best to check with your doctor. 

     

    Where can I buy methylcobalamin B12 in the UK? 

    Vitamin B12 is an essential part of your diet, but if you follow a low-animal product diet, you’ll need to supplement your intake to ensure your body is getting the right amount of this vital nutrient so you can feel energised and protect your long-term health, too. Taking B12 with methylcobalamin is by far the best way to ensure your body can make use of the supplement you’re taking, which is why we chose to use it for our vitamin B12 supplement. 

    All our supplements are vegan-friendly, made from the highest-quality ingredients, and come in eco-friendly packaging so you can take care of yourself as you take care of the planet. Get your vitamin B12 supplement here, or get your daily needs as a part of our multivitamin