Vitamin B12 Supplements: Who Needs It, How Much and What Type?

From what I’ve read, your body has enough vitamin B12 stored up possibly lasting 3-5 years. I have wondered why that if we need small amounts of it, how come they sell bottles that have 500mcg and over? Even though, there might be a good reason they are doing so, there’s confusion about how much and which kind to take…

I have been a vegetarian for years now, so I make sure I take a supplement regularly, because a deficiency can lead to serious, permanent, if not deadly outcome. For example, nerve damage may be irreversible.

Apparently, higher amounts of B12 than needed your body expels through urine. So far they haven’t determined if the excess is harmful. I take a flavored pill a day, although with the amount said we need, I should only be taking one every month. For example, adults only need 2.4 mcg each day [1]’.

There’s discussion 2.4 mcg a day isn’t enough. When one ages into senior years his ability to absorb B12 usually further declines. Therefore, it might be the better idea to take a B12 pill supplement pill rather than rely upon food sources.

Possible B12 deficiency symptoms…

  • Weakness
  • Incontinence
  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Delusions
  • Lightheartedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pins and needles feelings in hands and feet
  • Numbness
  • Constipation and other digestive complications
  • Loss of vision
  • Memory loss
  • Staggering when walking
  • Anemia
  • Depression and other mental problems

‘Strict vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk than lacto-ovo vegetarians and nonvegetarians of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods [2]’.

I take a Methylcobalamin Jarrow® 500mcg B12 I bought off eBay®. I have used their lemon flavored, but I like cherry better. They sell it at Sprouts®, too. I try to buy it where it’s the better deal. I also take a cherry flavored 500mcg Cyanocobalamin by Nature’s Bounty® I also bought off eBay. I take one of each every day because I am older. This is 1000mcg per day total.

‘It is said by reliable sources our bodies can’t absorb vitamin B12 as much over 65 especially if you are eating vegetarian or vegan plant-based food. Then, the daily recommended dosage is increased up to 1,000 mcg of  cyanocobalamin everyday. But, I still wonder, why not Methylcobalamin’? ~ your author

You see B12 pills sold that have 1000mcg, 2500mcg, even 5000mcg. Which dose does one take when it has been said by our government we need much less?

‘Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread. Among the population groups at risk are older people, vegetarians, pregnant women, and patients with renal or intestinal diseases. The neurological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are unspecific and can be irreversible. Early detection is therefore important, using the most sensitive and specific markers available [3]’.

I used to exclusively take vitamin B12 in Cyanocobalamin form, but changed to Methylcobalamin because I heard it was absorbed better. But, now, it seems the preferred supplemental form of vitamin B12 has been changed to Cyanocobalamin. They say there is not enough evidence to support Methylcobalamin is a superior choice.

‘Existing evidence does not suggest any differences among forms with respect to absorption or bioavailability. However the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from dietary supplements is largely limited by the capacity of intrinsic factor. For example, only about 10 mcg of a 500mcg oral supplement is actually absorbed in healthy people [4]’.

I still wonder who needs to take a daily B12 supplement? Furthermore, what dosage? Also, should it be Cyanocobalamin and/or a Methylcobalamin? Until it becomes crystal clear which one is best for me to take, I will be using one of each daily.

‘Large amounts of folic acid can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency by correcting megaloblastic anemia, a hallmark of vitamin B12 deficiency. But folic acid does not correct the progressive damage to the nervous system that vitamin B12 deficiency also causes. For this reason, healthy adults should not get more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid a day [5]’.

Source- 1, 2, 4 URL
Website Title NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Access Day 30
Access Month october
Access Year 2019
Article Title Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12

Website Title Deutsches Arzteblatt international
Publication Month October
Publication Year 2008
Access Day 02
Access Month november
Access Year 2019
Article Title Causes and early diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency

Website Title NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Access Day 15
Access Month november
Access Year 2019
Article Title Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12

*Still unsure about which source of B12 supplement is best? Read this article with citations explaining differences between Methylcobalamin & Cyanocobalamin, here.

Note- before you change your diet consult your doctor.

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