By Summer Banks on Jan 18, 2018

Not a lot of people give much thought to amount of Vitamin B12 they take in, nor do they consider any vitamin deficiencies they might have.

Up to 15% of people, in fact, do not get enough vitamin B12 [8].

Vitamin deficiency anemia happens when the body isn’t taking in enough vitamins needed to create a sufficient amount of healthy red blood cells [1].

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, essential for our body’s health. Sadly, there are many individuals who simply do not have enough, and this B12 deficiency may lead to serious health issues [2].

If your body isn’t taking in enough vitamins, or you can’t properly absorb the correct nutrients from what you are eating, you may develop vitamin deficiency anemia [3].

What is Vitamin B12?

What is Vitamin B12?


First, let’s get a good understanding of what exactly vitamin B12 is and how it’s so important to your health.

Vitamin B12 [also known as cyanocobalamin[11] [14]] assists the body’s blood cells and nerve cells, keeping them healthy while creating DNA which is the genetic material that acts as a blueprint for all your body’s cells [5]

It is critical for protein management [6]. Which matters greatly if you’re using a product like 310 Shake as a source of protein.

Additionally, vitamin B12 prevents megaloblastic anemia, which is a disorder that leaves the body feeling weak and fatigued [4] [5].

Since the body doesn’t create vitamin B12 [2], it needs to be ingested through an outside source such as food or supplements.

The liver can store B12 for years [6].

B12, not like other vitamins, can be found in an array of products and natural sources. Vitamin B12 can only be found in food products [9] like meat, eggs, shellfish, and dairy [8].

“Vitamin B12 is only available from animal sources and plays an important role in digestion and energy production. People who do not eat meat, dairy or eggs must supplement their diets with B12.” states Justin Robinson, a Registered Sports Dietitian, Strength and Conditioning Coach and contributor to ACE Fitness.

Other excellent sources of vitamin B12 are from trout, salmon, tuna, sirloin steak, chicken breast.

B12 can convert itself into either of the two cobalamin coenzymes which are active in humans – 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin [12].

You may find the need to increase your B12 intake if you are a smoker because nicotine can decrease the levels of B12 in your body [11].

vitamin B12 benefits

What are the Benefits of Vitamin B12?

As people age, they can develop dementia. Often, people with dementia have higher levels of homocysteine in their blood. B12 can decrease levels of homocysteine [13].

Taking in a lot B12 creates more heme [a chemical component of hemoglobin] which is a valuable protein that transports oxygen in your blood [14].

B12 assists in fighting heart disease and specific types of cancer [i.e. prostate, lung, breast, and colon] as well as treating existing cancer [32] [33].

When infants are 4 to 6 months old, they seem to be vitamin B12 deficient when their mothers are vegans or vegetarians, so mothers who intake sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 before giving birth may supply their babies with a good amount of this essential supplement [15].

One study outlined the effects of vitamin B12 against chronic diseases as well as neural tube defects but was ultimately found that more research was needed to determine how vitamin B12 may augment benefits of folic acid [16].

Folic acid supplementation along with other B vitamins may be a smart way to decrease plasma homocysteine levels and reduced the risk of CVD.

Although needing more human trials, evidence points towards B vitamins preventing stroke in high-risk individuals [17]. It’s a helpful addition to a healthy diet since there are no harmful side effects. Companies like Isagenix promote such diets.

Based on an array of calculation models, the decrease of elevated plasma homocysteine levels may prevent up to 25% of cardiovascular complications [18].

B12 is found to have an extremely high risk/reward ratio [18].

It has been suggested that folic acid, in combination with vitamin B12, may be beneficial for cognitive function as well as to fight against dementia [19] [20].

Vitamin B12 side effects

Possible Vitamin B2 Side Effects

Look into potential negative side effects. Some users may experience negative reactions, since everyone is different.

Cyanocobalamin lab-created form of vitamin B12 and administered to those with B12 vitamin deficiencies [21] [23] [24].

Injections of this substance are often used for those who cannot absorb the vitamin properly, or who may be vegan or vegetarian and not taking in enough B12 through their everyday diet [21] [23].

This specific form of vitamin B12 has been known to cause negative side effects [21] [22], including:

  • Itching [21] [22]
  • Acne [21]
  • Nausea [21]
  • Diarrhea [21]
  • Nervousness [21]
  • Dizziness [21] [22]
  • Headache [21] [22]
  • Increased Sweating [22]
  • Fatigue [22]
  • Weight Gain [22]

vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

It seems that it doesn’t so much deliver negative side effects as the actual lack of this vitamin does.

Around one in four adults are B12 deficient [25] or 2/5ths of the American population [26].

This deficiency [also known as hypocobalaminemia] is to blame for almost half of the American population’s suboptimal blood levels [25].

Vegetarians, vegans and elderly individuals are among the highest risks for vitamin B12 deficiency [40].

The good news is, people who are vitamin B12 deficient can turn things around by simply changing their eating habits [26] or taking vitamin B12 or chlorella [28] supplements.

low vitamin B12

Effects of Low Vitamin B12 Levels

B12 vitamin deficiency is thought to have an effect on 10%-15% of individuals over the age of 60 [48].

  • Numbness or tingling in the legs, hands, or feet [1] [4] [25]
  • Anemia [4]
  • Swollen tongue [4]
  • Difficulty walking [1] [4] [11]
  • Jaundice [1] [4]
  • Trouble thinking or memory loss [1] [4] [25]
  • Weakness and fatigue [1] [4] [11] [25]

Chlorella supplementation may be administered in those who suffer from this vitamin deficiency [27] [28], especially in pregnant women [27].

You can supplement with folic acid [30], but it may mask the issue. Another one to fight side effects is GMO beet root powder. Superbeets is one of the more popular beet supplements.

A factor that plays a part in vitamin B12 deficiency is the long-term use of rantidine hydrochloride [29].

A randomized controlled study comparing oral doses of B12 with intramuscular administration for B12 vitamin deficiency showed that 2000 microg doses of vitamin B12 orally per day and 1000 microg doses initially each day and so on [weekly, monthly, etc…] may be as effective as intramuscular administration when it comes to obtaining short-term neurological and haematological responses in the subjects who were vitamin B12 deficient [45].

Reduced levels are common within untreated cases of celiac disease due to the loss of specific proteins and enzymes that are needed to absorb the nutrient [31], so vitamin B12 injections are given in this case.

Results from one recent study showed increased risks of vitamin B12 deficiency linked to doses of metformin [34].

vitamin B12 foods

Food That Are High in Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 complex is the largest vitamin in the world [35], so it’s critical to eat as much Vitamin B12 foods as possible.

Below is a list of foods and beverages which are high in this essential nutrient.

  • Shellfish [1648% DV per 3 ounce serving] [35] [39]
  • Beef Liver [over 100% DV per 3 ounces] [35] [36]
  • Sardines [over 100% DV per 3 ounce serving] [36] [39]
  • Raw Cheese [20% per 1.5 ounces] [36]
  • Tuna [41% DV per 3 ounces] [35]
  • Lamb [35% DV per 3 ounces] [35]
  • Buttermilk [1.0 mcg per 1 cup] [37]
  • Skim Milk [1.3 mcg per 1 cup – 1.5 mcg per 8 ounces] [37] [38]
  • 3.3% homo milk 2%, 1% [1.2 – 1.4 mcg per cup] [37]
  • Feta Cheese [42% DV per 1 cup] [39]

vitamin B12

Different Types of Vitamin B12

The different types of Vitamin B12 include:

  • Methylcobalamin: The most active form of vitamin B12 in your body. It transforms homocysteine into methionine and acts as a protective barrier for the cardiovascular system. In addition, methylcobalamin protects your overall nervous system, also able to cross over the blood-brain barrier with no resistance, protecting brain cells. [41] [42] [43]
  • Hydroxocobalamin: A synthetic form of the vitamin, much like cyanocobalamin. Both forms have remarkably similar qualities, but may cause different side effects within different individuals [41] [42] [43].
  • Cyanocobalamin: A synthetic version of vitamin B12, created inside of a lab and the cheapest of all the supplements. This is the strongest type of B12, but is active through cyanide molecules. Don’t panic! It’s not an amount which is considered dangerous, but may cause adverse effects of the body [41] [42] [43].
  • Adenosylcobalamin: Required for the energy formation which happens during Citric Acid cycle [or Kreb’s cycle] [44]. Adenosylcobalamin occurs naturally, but is the least stable of all the types of B12. [41]
Vitamin B12 – Benefits, Uses and Warnings Ingredients

The Bottom Line on Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for cell growth and brain and nervous system function. It affects DNA synthesis, amino acid and fatty acid metabolism. Fatty acid metabolism is a key focus of stimulant-based formulas like Hydroxycut.

This is completely useful and crucial nutrient, rich in specific types of foods and very good for your health.

There are very little risks of adverse effects [47], making this a relatively safe nutrient to ingest, but the recommended dose is thought to be around 2.4 to 2.6 micrograms per day for anyone 18 or older [46].

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About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.