Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Vitamins are essential for the human body. If you want to be healthy, you should make sure you eat a varied and healthy diet. In a healthy person, most nutrients are absorbed in sufficient quantities through food and there is no need for additional intake through dietary supplements. However, this is not true for everyone.

If you want to live a healthy life, you should learn about your body and your vitamin balance. So it’s good that you made it here! In our vitamin B12 supplements test 2023 we explain everything you need to know about vitamin B12 supplements against a scientific background.




Summary

  • Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin and serves several purposes in the human body.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for metabolism and is involved in the formation of red blood cells as well as in cell division and DNA synthesis. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to considerable damage.
  • The body cannot produce vitamin B12 itself and absorbs it exclusively through food.

The Best Vitamin B12 Supplements: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for vitamin B12 supplements

If you are looking for vitamin B12 supplements, you will quickly realise that there is a lot to know about them. We recommend that you inform yourself thoroughly before taking them, and especially that you consult scientific sources.

Basically, you should pay attention to the quality of the products.

Only give your body what it actually needs. If you are unsure, you can discuss everything about the intake with a doctor beforehand and ask for certificates from the manufacturer.

How to take it

Vitamin B12 supplements are artificial forms of vitamin B12 supplements. You can find several different forms to suit your needs. You can often find vitamin B12 supplements in the form of tablets or capsules. If you prefer liquid, you can choose between powder and drops.

Liquid forms of vitamin B12 have the advantage that they can be absorbed directly through the oral mucosa. Lozenges, ampoules and sprays also have this effect.

It is also a good idea for children to take a lozenge to avoid the inconvenience of taking tablets or capsules. Flavours usually provide a better taste experience.

A clinically diagnosed deficiency is sometimes also treated with the parenteral form, i.e. with an injection.

Dosage

It’s all about the dose! Only give your body what it can actually use. Excess will either be excreted or cause unpleasant side effects. So avoid spending money unnecessarily on extra vitamin B12 supplements and look for a product that meets your needs. This can also reduce the likelihood of an overdose. Who are you looking for vitamin B12 supplements for?

Children should only take vitamin B12 supplements that are also made for children. This is because this variant is significantly less concentrated than the alternative for adults. There are also separate forms of vitamin B12 preparations for cats and dogs, which have lower concentrations in each case.

Composition

Vitamin B12 preparations are often found in their pure form and as 100 % vitamin B12 preparations. But there are also combinations of the vitamin. Vitamin B12 preparations are often offered in combination with other vitamin B’s, such as vitamin B2 and B6.

Manufacturers like to offer these varieties as complex variants of the vitamin B12 preparation. In some products, folic acid is also added. In addition, the bioavailability of the vitamin B12 preparation is often advertised. In these places, the vitamin B12 preparation is usually a composition of different types of vitamin B12.

A mixture of naturally occurring vitamin B12 and artificially produced vitamin B12 is said to have a particularly high bioavailability.

Plant or animal

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. Vegans should supplement their diet.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. Vegans should supplement their diet.

At least when it comes to vitamin B12 supplements. Otherwise, a deficiency can occur after some time. This is where artificial vitamin B12 supplements are often used. Even with artificially produced vitamin B12 preparations, you should pay attention to whether the product is suitable for a vegan or vegetarian diet. You can usually find the manufacturer’s information on the packaging.

Since most products are synthetically produced, they are suitable for a vegetarian or even vegan diet.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about vitamin B12 supplements answered in detail

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of vitamin B12 supplements and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.

What are vitamin B12 supplements and how do they work?

Vitamin B12 is essential for the human organism because it supports the metabolism and especially the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also jointly responsible for cell division and DNA synthesis.

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There is no reason to worry if you eat a healthy and balanced diet that does not include animal products. As a rule, a healthy person’s needs are automatically covered. (Image source: Paul Hanaoka / Unsplash)

Naturally, vitamin B12 is absorbed through animal food. Thus, in the case of a healthy person, the need is usually covered and no supplementation is required. In this way, an overdose can also be avoided.

Effect on the function of the energy metabolism

Vitamin B12 supplements can contribute to the normal function of the energy metabolism. Vitamin B12 acts as a coenzyme and helps to convert and transfer metabolic products. It cannot be shown that taking vitamin B12 supplements helps with gaining or losing weight.

Effect on depression

Vitamin B12 supplements are also important for the nervous system and contribute to normal function. Recent findings and advances have been made in the treatment of depression. B vitamins, including vitamin B12, have been specifically linked to depression and may play a role in its treatment.

Effect in case of undersupply

A disturbance in the absorption of vitamin B12 can lead to a deficiency due to various illnesses. Nutrition or increased need due to alcoholism, pregnancy or advancing age can also cause deficiency symptoms.

If deficiencies are detected by a doctor, they can be treated with vitamin B12 supplements. A temporary course of treatment usually helps. In the case of a chronic stomach or intestinal disease, vitamin B12 preparations must be added permanently.

Effect on memory disorders and concentration problems

Vitamin B12 supplements are often advertised as helping against tiredness and fatigue. While no scientific evidence can be found on this point, there is research on whether vitamin B12 supplements play a role in dementia or other cognitive diseases.

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A proper balance is key. Cognitive function and even depression can be affected by unbalanced vitamin B12 levels. (Image source: Ben White / Unsplash)

It has been found that balance in particular plays an important role. A too low level of vitamin B12 can lead to a reduction of cognitive functions.

What are the possible side effects of vitamin B12 supplements?

The use of vitamin B12 supplements has been criticised by many for quite some time. Especially diseases associated with the liver, kidneys and lungs are associated with hypercobalaminemia, i.e. an overdose of vitamin B12.

An overdose should be avoided as far as possible in patients at risk. In the worst case, the course of the disease can be worsened.

When and for whom is it useful to take vitamin B12 supplements?

An undersupply of vitamin B12 is very rare in today’s western world, as a mixed diet is predominantly followed. Vitamin B12 supplements are useful when there is not enough vitamin B12 in the diet to cover the need.

Since vitamin B12 preparations are mainly absorbed through animal products, supplementation is recommended in the case of a vegan diet. Those who have an increased need for nutrients should also pay attention to the vitamin B12 household. This includes pregnant women in particular and, to some extent, older people and alcoholics.

Here, supplementation with vitamin B12 preparations can be useful. Deficiency symptoms can be treated with vitamin B12 preparations. Undersupply can be promoted by diseases of the stomach and intestines, since the absorption of vitamin B12 is often disturbed in such diseases.

How can I recognise a vitamin B12 deficiency?

Many minor symptoms are often and readily associated with a lack of vitamin B12 supplements. Don’t be blinded at this point and inform yourself about the current state of science. Some symptoms and disorders have indeed been linked to a B12 deficiency. You can recognise a deficiency by a wide variety of symptoms.

Some of these are fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, memory and coordination problems, dizziness and cramps. Among them are neurological and psychiatric disorders such as impaired memory, apathy or depression. Loss of appetite, constipation and burning of the tongue may also occur.

Note that the changes in the blood count caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency cannot be distinguished from a folic acid deficiency. Deficiency symptoms should generally be discussed with a doctor first.

How are vitamin B12 supplements made?

Vitamin B12 supplements are not produced by the body itself. In fact, it is produced exclusively by microorganisms and must therefore be ingested through food. This happens, for example, in the stomach and intestines of herbivores, such as a cow.

Vitamin B12 is produced here and enters the human organism through the consumption of beef. Carnivorous animals also absorb vitamin B12 by eating other animals. Vitamin B12 preparations can also be produced synthetically in the laboratory. These are then usually also suitable for a vegan diet.

How much do vitamin B12 supplements cost?

Vitamin B12 preparations are available in a wide price range. The price differs somewhat depending on the dosage form. The most common dosage forms and their price range are summarised in the table.

Dosage form price range of the daily dose
Tablets 0.09-0.17 euros
Capsules 0.15 – 0.26 euros
Drops 0.02 – 0.10 euros
Lozenges 0.01- 0.10 euros
Effervescent tablets 0.18 – 0.2 euros
Ampoules 0.7 – 1.19 euros
Spray 0.08 – 0.46 euros

As you can see, the price ranges of the different forms of administration differ considerably. In some cases, there are very affordable alternatives so that everyone can afford the supply if necessary.

What types of vitamin B12 supplements are there?

Vitamin B12 comes in three different types. These differ mainly in the way they can be used by the body and in their occurrence.

Type Description
Methylcobalamin Active form, which can be utilised directly.The highest concentration of this variant of vitamin B12 is found in the blood. You can absorb a lot of this type, especially when eating different types of cheese.
Adenosylcobalamin Also an active form of the vitamin. This type accumulates mainly in the liver. Meat products contain particularly high amounts of this vitamin.
Analogues Vitamin B12 from algae or other plants, the availability for the human organism is unclear, under certain circumstances it can even interfere with absorption
Cyanocobalamin No natural occurrence, artificial production and therefore long shelf life. It must first be converted by the body into methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin before it can be used.

You can often find vitamin B12 supplements that contain a mixture of different types.

How should vitamin B12 supplements be dosed?

The dosage of vitamin B12 preparations depends on the age of the person taking them.

Group of persons vitamin B12 in mg/day
0-12 months 0.5 – 1.4
1-13 years 1.5 – 3.5
13 years and older 4.0
Pregnant women 4.5
Breastfeeding women 5.5

Here, a daily intake of 4.0 micrograms is considered safe for adolescents and adults 13 years and older. The estimated values increase for pregnant or breastfeeding persons.

What alternatives are there to vitamin B12 supplements?

Vitamin B12 supplements can be substituted by certain foods in the diet. These foods are sufficiently animal-based and therefore not suitable for an exclusively vegan diet. There are enough vitamins in meat, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy products to cover your vitamin B12 needs.

Even with an unbalanced diet, a deficiency usually only occurs after several years. Vegetarians can cover their vitamin B12 needs with products like curd cheese and cheese. For vegans, this is not quite so easy. Plant-based vitamin B12 suppliers such as algae contain so-called B12 analogues.

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Plant-based vitamin B12 supplements are not necessarily usable by the body. Don’t be fooled, because the content is usually much lower than stated. (Image source: FOODISM360 /Unsplash)

It is unclear whether this form can be utilised by the human body at all or is even harmful. What is certain is that the vegetable form is significantly less concentrated. Another complaint is that the information about the B12 content is often wrong and stated much higher than is actually the case.

When does the effect of a vitamin B12 preparation begin?

The duration of the effect of a vitamin B12 preparation depends on various factors. Exact details can never be given at this point, as it also depends very much on the individual body and its metabolism. It also depends on the form in which it is taken.

An injection shoots the vitamin B12 preparation straight into the bloodstream, while oral forms of intake must first be absorbed through the mouth or stomach mucous membranes. In this case, it can be assumed that the vitamin B12 preparation acts more quickly. This can help with acute deficiency, but you should have the injection done by a specialist.

Source of the picture: 53650159/ 123rf.com

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