Vitamin B12 is one of the more important vitamins we need as human beings. Although the human body is incapable of making it, B12 can be found in many sources of food, supplements or by direct supplementation of B12 itself. While there are many forms of B12 supplementation, as we’ll see they are far from equal; in fact, some are not worth your time and money. As a supplement, B12 is available in oral and injectable forms as well as patches and sublingual.
Functions & Traits:
Vitamin B12 plays a role on every cell within the human body. Its primary functions run deep and include but are not limited to:
- Making DNA
- Supports the body’s nerves
- Supports the health of the body’s blood
- Helps convert carbohydrates into glucose, in turn providing the body energy
- Beneficial to hair, skin and nail health
- May help with the digestive system, brain function, reduce depression and stress as well as protect against certain cancers. How much it can help in these areas is unknown, but it does appear to have an affect, more so in some areas than others.
The vitamin is something that’s often used to support the fight against anemia, which makes an individual extremely tired due to a low red blood cell count. Vitamin B12 is well known for promoting energy; the primary reason most will use it, which makes it an excellent supplement for someone with anemia.
While the human body does not make it, vitamin B12 can be found in many foods. However, some will find absorption rates to be very low due to genetic factors, and some will find certain foods provide better absorption than others. Red meat, especially beef liver and clams are perhaps the best sources of B12. The vitamin can also be found in poultry and eggs as well as most dairy products. While adding such foods to our diet regularly can help, as digestion is often poor, other options will need to be considered.
Oral B12 supplements – These can most commonly be found in oral multivitamins and energy drinks. However, if you’re not absorbing B12 from your food efficiently, you’re not going to absorb it efficiently from a supplement in this form. Most oral supplements, pill or energy drink, will contain massive amounts of B12. While the absorption rate may be low, there will be more to pull from. Important note – B12 in oral form is often destroyed by the GI tract, which completely negates any absorption as it never gets into the body in a functioning way.
Injectable B12 – Injectable versions of the vitamin are most commonly found in two forms Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin with the latter being the more beneficial. B12 in the form of Cyanocobalamin can be converted to any B12 form once in the body, most commonly Methylcobalamin. However, the conversion can be limited depending on the individual, and as Methylcobalamin is what we’re after, it often makes sense to simply start there. Methylcobalamin is a perfect copy of B12, carries a high rate of absorption and is by far the most beneficial form of B12 supplementation.
Vitamin B12 is not a harmful substance that carries a host of side effects and there is no issue of overdosing as with Vitamin D and K. Some may experience diarrhea, normally from oral forms but possible with other forms. High red blood cell count and or hematocrit is also possible but unlikely. Itching at the injection site can be somewhat common to a new user but normally adaptable with time.
Dose & Administration:
B12 doses (oral) can range anywhere from 1-10,000mcg per day depending on age and need. In injectable form, 250mcg-500mcg 1-2x per week is common when injecting Cyanocobalamin or Methylcobalamin. If using Cyanocobalamin, a higher dose may be needed. Other dosing plans are used when treating disease, but the aforementioned represent standard doses used in anti-aging or rejuvenation plans that include B12.