Do Vitamin B12 Supplements Work?
Vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, is a nutrient you need for good health. It’s one of eight B vitamins that help the body convert the food you eat into glucose, which gives you energy. Vitamin B-12 has a number of additional functions. You need it for the:
- production of elements of DNA
- production of red blood cells
- regeneration of bone marrow and the lining of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts
- health of your nervous system, which includes your spinal cord
- prevention of megaloblastic anemia
How long does it take for a vitamin B12 to start working?
There's no way to predict how long it will take for vitamin B12 to start working. The length of your B12 deficiency recovery depends on several different factors, including how severe your deficiency is and whether your body can absorb vitamin B12 the way it's supposed to.
In vegans and other people whose B12 deficiency is diet-related, oral B12 supplements and a diet designed to increase consumption of vitamin B12 should cure the condition.
How much B12 should you take a day?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that’s required for many crucial processes in your body. The ideal dose of vitamin B12 varies based on your gender, age, and reasons for taking it.
The following factors may put you at a higher risk of not getting enough vitamin B12 from diet alone:
- following a vegetarian or vegan diet
- being over 50 years old
- gastrointestinal disorders, including Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
- surgery on the digestive tract, such as weight loss surgery or bowel resection
- metformin and acid-reducing medications
- specific genetic mutations, such as MTHFR, MTRR, and CBS
- regular consumption of alcoholic beverages
If you’re at risk of deficiency, taking a supplement may help you meet your needs. Usually 1000 mcg a day will help with people who have B12 deficiency and for those who don’t, it helps with increase energy, mood and metabolism of carbs.
Can B12 supplements make you sleepy?
Vitamin B-12 has a big role in stabilizing your energy levels. It actually helps give you more energy, rather than making you tired. If you do notice feeling a little fatigued, even though you’re regularly taking a B-12 supplement, it’s likely a sign of something else that is out of the norm in your body. Go see your doctor to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Problems Absorbing B-12
Even if you’re taking B-12 on a regular basis, your body might not be able to absorb it, resulting in a deficiency that could be causing your fatigue. Vitamin B-12 in supplements generally absorbs efficiently after binding with a specialized protein called intrinsic factor. B-12 in foods also needs this protein for absorption, but it has to go through a separate digestive step before this can happen.
However, if your body doesn’t have enough intrinsic factor, which is more likely to happen in older adults, you might not be able to absorb the vitamin. Or if you have chronic intestinal problems such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, your intestinal tract may not be absorbing much B-12, causing a deficiency.
Can low B12 cause weight gain?
Despite the numerous processes in which vitamin B12 is involved, there’s little evidence to suggest that it has any influence on weight gain or loss.
Observational studies cannot confirm whether low vitamin B12 levels are what caused the weight gain, nor whether they’re what protected against low levels.
That said, the current evidence is too weak to suggest that a vitamin B12 deficiency has any strong or specific impact on weight — be it weight gain or loss.
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