Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that a mature and growing body needs to operate correctly. The nutrient keeps blood cells and nerves healthy. It also has a hand in DNA production.[1, 3] Vitamin B-12 is stored in the liver for several years, making deficiency a rare occurrence.
Benefits and uses
Vitamin B12 is used for a variety of medicinal purposes, but especially the prevention and treatment of B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia (caused by B12 deficiency).
In addition, it is used for:[1, 2]
- Mood enhancement
- Improving concentration
- Alzheimer's disease
- Memory loss
- Heart disease
- Male infertility
- Sleep disorders
- Cancer prevention
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Macular degeneration prevention (age-related)
- Kidney disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
- Skin conditions
Vitamin B12 comes in the form of pills, lozenges, creams, injections, and nasal gel. It is available in many multivitamin formulas as well as by itself. The suggested dose is 1mcg to 25mcg daily, but it is also dependent upon age, condition, diagnosis and form used. Consult your physician regarding the best option for you, especially if you eat a meat-free diet or have head weight-loss surgery, both risk factors for B12 deficiency.[1, 2, 3, 5]
Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, constipation, yellowed skin (jaundice), numbness and tingling in the extremities, balance problems, depression, dementia, megaloblastic anemia (production of abnormally large red blood cells), memory problems, mouth and tongue soreness. The nervous system can be negatively affected by B12 deficiency as well. If you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency, your doctor can do a simple blood test.
Those at risk of B12 deficiency include:
- Older adults
- People with pernicious anemia
- Those who have had surgery of the gastrointestinal system
- People with digestive disorders
- Vegetarians and vegans
Does B12 work
Vitamin B12 seems to work well for reversing a B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia. It may be effective for age-related macular degeneration when taken along with folic acid, vitamin B6, and other vitamins. It's not as effective for sleep disorders, stroke prevention, or memory enhancement in older people. There isn't enough evidence to recommend B12 for eczema, Alzheimer's disease, canker sores, cancer, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, high cholesterol, skin conditions, and fatigue. There is no evidence that the vitamin boosts energy or athletic performance.[1, 2, 3]
Vitamin B12 is considered safe when taken properly.
- Do not take B12 in large amounts.
- Vitamin B12 is safe to use on the skin.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can safely take B12 in recommended doses. Consult your physician.
- Do not take B12 if you have Leber's disease (eye disease)
- Do not use B12 if you are allergic to cobalt.
Vitamin B12 interacts with a variety of medications and supplements, as well as with alcohol. Do not mix B12 with the following:
|Chloramphenicol||B12 has a hand in making new blood cells while chloramphenicol decreases new cell production.|
|Potassium||This mineral can reduce B12 absorption.|
|Folic acid||Taking a lot of folic acid can mask a B12 deficiency.|
|Vitamin C||This vitamin may destroy dietary vitamin B12. Take vitamin C two or more hours after eating.|
|Alcohol||Drinking excessively for two weeks or more can hinder B12 absorption.|
|Acid reflux and peptic ulcer drugs||These may interfere with B12 absorption.|
|Metformin (diabetes medication)||This drug may thwart B12 absorption.|
This is not an exhaustive list. If you're taking any medication, consult your healthcare provider before taking B12.
Sources of vitamin B12
Some foods are natural sources of vitamin B12 while others are fortified with it. Check nutrition facts on labels for details. Examples of B12-rich foods are: 
- Dairy products
- Breakfast cereal
- Follow all directions for supplement use, including B12.
- Supplements can act like drugs if they are used in large amounts. Take as directed.
- Inform your health care provider of all supplements and complementary care you use. Discuss proper dosages particular to your symptoms and medical history.
- Herbs and other supplements are not strictly regulated by the government. Product safety and consistency are not guaranteed. Effects may vary according to brand and batch.
- Purchase B12 from companies you trust, who have a good reputation.
- Don't take our word for it. Consult other reputable sources such as scientific journals for information on B12 and any other complementary or alternative treatment before experimenting with it. Educate yourself about what you put into your body!
- Regular exercise, a balanced diet and an overall healthy lifestyle can have a significant, positive effect on your mental and physical state.
- Although we don't sell B12, you can compare quality and price of a variety of brands here at PricePlow.com. Please note that we are not doctors. We take no responsibility for the products listed here since we do not manufacture them.
The best B12 supplement
Here at PricePlow, we stick with NOW Foods when it comes to high-quality, GMP-compliant, low-cost supplements. It is no different with B-Vitamins. Forget the marketing nonsense and stick with trusted, quality brands.