Vitamin B12 FAQ
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What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in numerous processes throughout the body, in particular the brain and nervous system.
Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 cannot be synthesized within the body so it is therefore essential that you source it through either dietary or supplemental means.
What Types of Vitamin B12 are There?
The most common form of Vitamin B12, and the one used in dietary supplements is Cyanocobalamin.
This form of Vitamin B12 is particularly useful because although it does not occur naturally within the body it can be used in endogenously to synthesize other forms of Vitamin B12 which can then serve a number of biological roles.
Cyanocobalamin is the form of Vitamin B12 that we will be discussing in this FAQ.
How does Vitamin B12 Work and What are the Benefits?
Aside from the obvious Vitamin B12 deficiency, Vitamin B12 is used to treat cyanide poisoning and also forms part of the Schilling test for detecting pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B12 also has a great deal of relevance in the context of immune function and TH1 suppress T-cells, as we will explore below.
What’s more, it is theorized that a high intake of Vitamin B12 may help to protect the brain in elderly people against the actual fee associated with outsiders disease and other manifestations of impaired cognitive function.
 O’Conner, Richard D. M.D. (1990). “FDA investigational New Drug IND No. 30,488”
Who Can Benefit from Using Vitamin B12 and How?
If you suffer from an overactive immune system and serious allergies due to antibody response then you may find supplementing with Vitamin B12 to be beneficial due to its ability to down-regulate excessive production of the allergen antibody known as IgE.
The most obvious candidates for supplemental Vitamin B12 use of vegetarians, and it is in this subset of the population to whom a large proportion of these supplements are marketed.
Do Any Foods Contain Vitamin B12? Which Ones are the best?
The richest sources of Vitamin B12 are meat, eggs, fish and crustaceans, and dairy products, this makes it particularly challenging for vegetarians and especially vegans to consume adequate quantities without using a B12 supplement.
There are some foods not derived from animals or animal products which are purported to contain Vitamin B12; these include chlorella, certain species of seaweed, and fermented foods such as kombucha. Unfortunately while the manufacturers of these products claim that they are adequate sources of Vitamin B12, there is little scientific evidence to back up these claims.
To summarize, non-vegetarians can easily source substantial amounts of Vitamin B12 from their everyday diet while vegetarians and vegans may find it necessary to purchase a B12 supplement in order to avoid potential deficiencies from developing.
Do I Need to Use a Vitamin B12 Supplement If I Am a Vegetarian?
This is a difficult question to answer because it will depend on your existing diet.
It is quite likely that you will need to use a B12 supplement because it’s going to be very difficult for you to source adequate amounts without resorting to the use of animal products. In this case it would be best to defer judgment to your doctor or physician as they will have a more thorough understanding of your clinical history and existing health status.
Is It Worth Supplementing with Vitamin B12 If I Eat Meat?
Probably not, especially when you consider that the vast majority of multivitamin supplements will include some amount of B12.
If you would like more information regarding multivitamin supplements for men and women then you might like to check out our multivitamin supplement reviews, as well as our upcoming Top 10 lists for 2015.
In these top 10 lists we will be ranking the best men’s and women’s multivitamin supplements available on the market so that you can see what each one has to offer in order to determine which one will be the best choice for you.
Related: Best Supplements for Vegatarians
Does Vitamin B12 Have any Side Effects?
Except in the context of specific diseases, there are few if any side effects associated with the consumption of Vitamin B12, even in supplemental form.
There are very rare instances where individuals may suffer from allergies to certain vitamins, in this case avoidance of a Vitamin B12 supplement would be wise.
As with any dietary supplement, we recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult their doctor or physician prior to use. This also applies to people under the age of 18 and individuals who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions or who are taking any kind of prescription medication.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I Use Vitamin B12?
The timing of Vitamin B12 intake bares little relevance; however, it is worth considering how you are taking it.
Vitamin B12 supplements are available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, including but not limited to:
- Energy drinks;
- Lozenges and choose; and
- Sublingual capsules
There are even patches and injections available for individuals who suffer from digestive upset when using Vitamin B12 in other forms; all of these alternative forms of B12, including sublingual, are reportedly unnecessary and are essentially no more effective than taking it in standard pill form.
How you choose to take Vitamin B12 is entirely up to your own personal preferences.
How Much Vitamin B12 Should I Use?
The amount of Vitamin B12 you use will depend largely on your existing diet and any pre-existing medical conditions that you may suffer from.
For this reason it is highly recommended that you refer to the manufacturers guidelines printed on any B12 supplement that you purchase.
Choosing the Right Vitamin B12 Supplement
By now you should have more than enough information to determine which Vitamin B12 supplement is right for you, or if you even need to use one in the first place.
Simply put, unless you are a vegetarian or vegan it is quite unlikely that you need to add supplemental B12 to your diet.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.