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Vitamin B12 is essential for so many different aspects of our health, but if you are deficient in it for any reason, you may find yourself looking for the best B12 supplement. We cover everything you should know, including our picks for the best B12 supplements of 2020.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that plays a vital role in ensuring we have healthy red blood cells. It also helps maintain nerve health, and it makes DNA, which is genetic material contained in all of our cells. B12 can also help prevent megaloblastic anemia, which, if you have it can make you feel tired and weak.
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin.
Foods that are naturally high in vitamin B12 include:
- Some fortified foods like plant-based milk
If you don’t get enough B12 naturally in your diet, you may be deficient. Other situations where you could be at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- You’re elderly
- You have absorption problems, or you’ve had surgery to remove the area of your bowel that is responsible for absorbing B12
- You take metformin for diabetes
- You follow a vegan diet
- You take antacid drugs for heartburn
If you’re deficient in B12, you may also have low levels of folate.
Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Pale or jaundiced skin: When you have a B12 deficiency, you may notice changes in your coloring. This is largely because a B12 deficiency affects the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is necessary for your DNA to make red blood cells, and if you have a deficiency, then your cells can’t divide. This is what leads to megaloblastic anemia. If you have megaloblastic anemia, your red blood cells are big and fragile. They may not be able to pass out of your bone marrow and then circulate through your blood, so you will have fewer red blood cells in circulation. If your cells break down because they’re so fragile, then you might then have excess bilirubin, and that can lead to your skin and eyes having a yellow tint.
- Fatigue and weakness: These common symptoms of B12 deficiency are again linked to your body’s inability to make enough red blood cells. If your cells can’t get enough oxygen, which is transported by red blood cells, the result can be feelings of tiredness and weakness. A condition that commonly occurs in older adults and is linked to this is called pernicious anemia. It’s an autoimmune condition in which you don’t produce enough intrinsic factor, which is a protein. The intrinsic factor binds to B12 in your gut so you can absorb it.
- Pins and Needles: If you have nerve damage from a severe, long-term B12 deficiency, it can feel like a pins and needles sensation. Untreated damage to the nervous system from a B12 deficiency can lead to mobility changes, such as a lack of balance and coordination.
- Glossitis: This term refers to inflammation of the tongue. A B12 deficiency can lead to an inflamed and swollen tongue, as well as mouth ulcers.
- Dizziness: Being deficient in B12 can lead to dizziness as well as feelings of breathlessness.
- Mood changes: Low B12 levels are linked to depression and dementia. In people with mood-related symptoms of a B12 deficiency, using a supplement can help reverse these symptoms.
How to Choose the Best B12 Supplement
The following are considerations to keep in mind as you choose the best B12 supplement:
- When you’re weighing which B12 supplement is best for you, check the dosage first. Most products have between 500 mcg and 10,000 mcg of B12. You can start with a lower dosage and then work your way up until you find a dosage that works for you. If you’re unsure where to begin, you can speak with your health care provider, who can likely provide a recommendation.
- There are capsules and tablets that you can take, but some people prefer sublingual B12, liquid B12 or a spray. There’s a reason that liquids, sprays and sublingual B12 tend to be more beneficial. When you take a capsule or tablet it has to travel through your digestive tract and some of the benefits are eliminated as it goes through that digestive process. When you use a sublingual or liquid supplement, they are absorbed immediately. That can be an especially important factor for people with disorders like Crohn’s that already affect their absorption of vitamins and minerals.
- There are two main types of B12 supplements. One is called methylcobalamin, which is more easily absorbed than other types of B12. It’s also referred to as methyl B12. It doesn’t go through a conversion process in your body like other types of B12 and it may last longer as well. The other primary type of B12 supplement is cyanocobalamin.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, sublingual B12 may not be best for you because it can contain sweeteners that cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
Methyl B12 vs. Cyanocobalamin
Since methyl B12 and cyanocobalamin are the two main types of B12, it’s worth comparing them in more detail.
First, cyanocobalamin is synthetic B12 that’s not naturally occurring. It is cheaper and more stable than other forms of B12. When it enters your body, it’s converted to one of two active forms of B12.
Methyl B12 is naturally occurring, but it can be obtained through supplements.
While there are minor differences, the reality is that both types of B12 supplements can be beneficial for your health. Studies have shown that both can prevent B12 deficiencies and reverse symptoms associated with a deficiency.
Top 5 Best B12 Supplements
The following are our selections for the best B12 supplements of 2020, with some details on each.
This vitamin B12 is a sublingual formulation, meaning it can be more bio-available and more readily absorbed into your blood. The WonderLabs Sublingual Vitamin B12 includes 1,000 mcg high-quality methyl B12.
- This best B12 supplement also includes 5 mg of vitamin B6 and 400 mcg folic acid
- Contains 25 mcg biotin
- Helps support healthy red blood cells and boosts your nervous system
- Improves energy levels
- Made in the USA in compliance with Good Manufacturing Processes
This vitamin B12 supplement easily dissolves under your tongue, so it’s easy to take, and it absorbs well meaning you’re getting the maximum benefits. According to reviews, taking this top vitamin B12 supplement has made a huge difference for most users.
Reviews say that after taking it for a relatively short time it had significant effects on their bloodwork.
Reviews also say taking this best B12 supplement helps improve energy levels.
Nature Made is a good overall supplement company, and we like the fact that this best B12 supplement is time-release, and you only have to take it once a day.
- Affordable and each bottle contains a 160-day supply
- Can be a good supplement for vegans or vegetarians to take
- Helps with red blood cell formation
- Should be taken with food
Reviews say that the Nature Made Vitamin B12 supplement gave them a boost of energy after only taking it a few days. Reviewers also say it’s helped boost their memory.
Reviewers also describe this product as being high-quality and helpful for different conditions, including weaning off antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
I personally am a big fan of liquid drop vitamins whenever possible. My husband has a digestive disorder that makes absorption difficult for him, and I find we always get the best results from liquid vitamins.
This option for the best B12 supplement from Ultra6 Nutrition works fast and effectively.
- Gets into the bloodstream through the tissues located under your tongue
- Methylcobalamin vitamin B12, which is great for sustained energy
- Made in the U.S.
- 100% money-back guarantee
According to reviews, this is one of the best B12 supplements because it’s the next best thing to having B12 injections. People who use this product say it improves their mood and energy, and they felt almost immediate effects when they started taking it.
Another liquid drop B12 supplement, this version from DRP has a perfect five-star rating on Amazon, which is hard to come by. It’s also very potent, with each serving offering 2500 mcg of high-quality vitamin B12.
- Can protect neurons and help reverse cognitive decline
- Doesn’t contain artificial preservatives, soy, sugar, gluten or any additives
- You can take this directly in your mouth or add it to juice or water
- Each 2 oz. bottle should last around two months
- Hold under the tongue for the best absorption into the bloodstream
- Pleasant flavor with whole cherry fruit
According to reviews of the DRP vitamin B12, this product provides not only a noticeable increase in B12 levels, but it has other benefits, including improved energy levels and increased nail and hair growth. Reviews say they taste great, and they can help relieve fatigue and grogginess quickly.
Our final pick for the best B12 supplement offers a unique way to get the vitamin—it’s a cream. The Maxasorb B12 cream is infused with moisturizers and antioxidants, and you get a direct skin-based burst of B12.
- Topical application of bioactive methyl B12
- Uses a pump dispenser and each press of the pump is one dose of B12
- Each dose includes 320 mcg of B12, 120 mcg of vitamin B3 and ten mcg of folate
- Can reduce nitric oxide which is known to cause inflammation and itching
- Infused with antioxidants
- Can help with wrinkles and dry skin
According to reviews of this best B12 supplement, it’s a wonderful product and a rapid energy-booster. Reviewers say that when they started using it, they noticed a difference in their energy levels within a few days. Other people feel that it’s helped to reduce some of their pain too.
This B12 cream is a viable option for someone who might not want to take vitamin B12 by mouth or perhaps doesn’t absorb it that way.
Summing Up—The Best B12 Supplements of 2020
B12 is an incredibly important vitamin that many people are deficient in because of age or health status as well as their diet.
Using a B12 supplement can help you feel your best, boost your red blood cell production, and improve your quality of life.