What You Should Know About Vitamin B12: How to Know You’re Getting Enough B12

Learn the benefits of vitamin B12 and the best sources of this essential nutrient

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that has a key role in keeping you healthy and well. The benefits of vitamin B12 include supporting red blood cell functions, energy metabolism, neurological health, and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Because vitamin B12 plays an important role in contributing to energy metabolism and maintaining a healthy immune system, it’s critical you get enough B12. Your body cannot manufacture B12, so it’s important to understand the best sources of this water-soluble vitamin.1 ‡

Most people get enough vitamin B12 through their diet. However, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, pregnant or breastfeeding, have absorption issues, or underlying health conditions, it may not be possible to consume adequate amounts of B12 through your diet. In this case, you may benefit from taking vitamin B12 supplements.1

In this blog we give you the key facts on vitamin B12, including:

  • Vitamin B12 benefits
  • The best food and beverage sources of vitamin B12
  • How to know if you’re getting enough B12

Before making changes to your diet, nutrition, and exercise routine, consult your healthcare practitioner. Always discuss any vitamin and mineral supplements you are taking or plan to take, since these may interact differently with medications and health conditions.

As always, feel free to contact us with your questions about our vitamins, minerals, supplements, and other products.

The more you understand about the role vitamins, minerals, and nutrients have in keeping you healthy and active, the easier it is to make informed decisions about your supplement and dietary choices.

And this is why we want you to know these 10 vitamin B12 facts:

    1. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body cannot manufacture.2

    2. Vitamin B12 must be consumed through food or supplements. Some people may require vitamin B12 injections.2

    3. The two most common sources of vitamin B12 in supplements are methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.3

    4. Cyanocobalamin is the most common form of vitamin B12 supplement.4

    5. B12 is available in a range of supplement formats including multivitamin supplements, B-complex vitamin supplements, and as only vitamin B12.4

    6. Supplementary B12 is available in oral supplements, including tablets, and lozenges.4

    7. In the United States, most people consume enough vitamin B12 through food. The primary sources of B12 are animal and fortified foods.5

    8. Your healthcare practitioner can measure your vitamin B12 status.5

    9. While your body cannot make B12, it does store vitamin B12. On average your body stores up to 2,000 times of the amount of B12 you consume each day. Because of this, it can take years for symptoms of low vitamin B12 levels to appear.5

    10. Low levels of Vitamin B12 may cause the following symptoms:5
    • Fatigue or low energy
    • Lack of appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Tingling in hands and feet
    • Memory loss or confusion
    • Heart palpitations

    Do not ignore these symptoms – consult your healthcare practitioner if you have any of these symptoms.

5 Vitamin B12 Benefits You Need to Know

Make sure you know these 5 vitamin B12 benefits:5 ‡

    1. Supports nerve health and cognitive function
    2. Promotes overall emotional well-being
    3. Contributes to energy metabolism
    4. Supports red blood cell function
    5. Helps make DNA

How to Know If You’re Getting Enough Vitamin B12

The best way to know if you’re getting enough vitamin B12 is with a blood test done by your healthcare practitioner.5

The recommended daily intakes for vitamin B12 are:5

  • Adults: 2.4 micrograms
  • Pregnant people: 2.6 micrograms
  • Breastfeeding people: 2.8 micrograms

The latest studies on vitamin B12 intake in people living in the U.S., show that in general, most people meet the recommended intakes for B12. According to the 2013 – 2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only 3% of men and 8% of women were below the recommended B12 intake from food and beverages.4 However, some people have low B12 despite meeting their recommended intakes. Poor absorption, a common underlying cause of low B12 has been linked to many factors including age, genetics, and health status.

Some people may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 or may not get enough B12 through food sources including:5

  • People over 50 (low dietary intake and/or reduced absorption)
  • People with underlying health conditions including atrophic gastritis, pernicious anemia, Crohn’s Disease and celiac disease (reduced absorption)
  • People who consume a vegetarian or vegan diet (low dietary intake)
  • People who have had stomach or intestinal surgery (reduced absorption)

Because vitamin B12 supplements can interact with some medications, it’s important you talk to your healthcare practitioner before taking B12 supplements. There are many different formats and types of supplemental vitamin B12 – discuss the best type of supplemental B12 for you with your healthcare expert.5

What are the Best Food and Beverage Sources of Vitamin B12?

The best food and beverage sources of vitamin B12 include:1,4

  • Organ meats including lamb, beef, and veal liver and kidneys.
  • Fish and seafood including clams, sardines, tuna, and salmon.
  • Meat including beef and turkey.
  • Fortified foods including breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, milk alternatives including soy, almond, or rice milks. (Check the labels to ensure these foods are fortified with B12, not all cereals, nutritional yeast, or milk alternatives are fortified with B12.)
  • Milk and dairy products including yogurt and cheese.
  • Protein alternatives including eggs, tempeh, and kidney beans.
  • Fruits and vegetables including bananas, strawberries, and spinach.

If you have dietary restrictions or have trouble absorbing B12 from food and beverage sources, you may benefit from taking a vitamin B12 supplement. Your healthcare practitioner can measure your B12 levels and recommend the right supplement to help you get enough daily B12.5

Getting Enough Vitamin B12

The good news is, your body is smart and stores vitamin B12, so it can take a while for your B12 stores to run low. In general, eating a balanced diet can ensure you are meeting the recommended daily intakes of this essential nutrient.

However, if you do experience symptoms of low vitamin B12, including fatigue, weakness, balance issues, low appetite, unexplained weight loss, or tingling hands and feet – do not ignore them.5

If you’re concerned about your vitamin B12 levels, it may be useful to track your food and beverage intake to see if you’re consuming enough sources of B12. And you can ask your healthcare practitioner for a blood test to measure your B12 status. Remember to check with your healthcare practitioner before taking B12 supplements.

Use our Purely For You personalized supplement plan to provide you with tailored wellness recommendations to meet your specific nutritional needs.

Remember, we are here to support you in achieving optimal personal wellness. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news, promotions, and nutritional/lifestyle content Purely For You.