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Vitamin B12 (aka cobalamin) is a vitamin that plays an important role in red blood cell production, brain health, and DNA synthesis.
But what happens you’re not getting enough B12 from food and need a boost? We’ve rounded up the best B12 supplements that may help!
Usually B12 needs are easily met with food, but about 1.5 to 15 percent of people can still have a deficiency. Vitamin B12 as a supplement is typically found in multivitamins, but it can also ride solo.
There are different forms of B12 supplements, but they’re all effective for improving B12 levels.
The most popular B12 supplements usually come from cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin. They’re nearly identical with just a slight difference in molecules. Methylcobalamin is identical to the form of B12 that is found in foods like fish, meat, eggs, and milk. Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic version.
The recommended daily intake of B12 is 2.4 micrograms, but many experts believe the current RDA for vitamin B12 is way too low. Taking between 6 and 10 micrograms a day may help ensure you’re getting enough B12.
Not enough B12 comes with some serious side effects. National Institutes of Health lists the characteristics of B12 deficiency as:
- megaloblastic anemia (abnormally large and immature red blood cells)
- loss of appetite
- neurological issues, such as difficulty with balance, depression, and confusion
When choosing the best B12 supplements, we looked at a few criteria.
- Only the best reviews. We chose products that were as close to 5 star ratings as possible with thousands of reviews.
- Quality is key. We also chose products that have strict standards when it comes to quality of the supplement, and looked for backing from healthcare professionals.
- Meets many needs. Everyone needs B12, but not everyone has the same lifestyle. We wanted to include products with various B12 levels that work for different dosage needs, as well as vegans, vegetarians, and those with allergies.
Best soft gel
1. Nature Made B12 – 150 count
Why we chose it: Thousands of pharmacist have rated Nature Made as a top vitamin and supplement brand for 23 years. This B12 soft gel is made without gluten, artificial flavors, or synthetic dyes. It’s a true classic one-a-day supplement.
Considerations: It’s not meant for everyone. The use of gelatin isn’t suitable for vegans and the ingredient soybean oil can’t be ingested by those with a soy allergy.
How to take it: Each softgel contains 1000 micrograms of B12 and you’ll take one a day with water and a meal.
Best high dose
2. Natrol Vitamin B12 Fast Dissolve Tablets – 200 count
Why we chose it: No water necessary for these fast dissolve tablets that you can take anywhere, anytime. It’s a great option for individuals who deal with food allergies, as it’s void of milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soy.be
Considerations: To get its sweet strawberry flavor with each dosage, this supplement uses xylitol. It’s a sugar alcohol that’s often well tolerated, but can cause digestive discomfort due to its ability to pull water into your intestine.
How to take it: 1 tablet taken each day will give you a whopping 5,000 micrograms of B12.
3. Amazon Elements Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin – 65 count
Why we chose it: This is another high dosage option, but you take it like a cough drop lozenge once a day (or you can chew it). These berry flavored lozenges are gluten free, contain only natural colors and flavors, and are suitable for vegans. They’re also manufactured in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility which is regulated by the FDA to ensure quality.
Considerations: This product also uses sugar alcohol in the form of xylitol and mannitol. This gives the lozenge a nice sweet flavor but could also give you stomach pains and a frantic trip to the bathroom if you’re sensitive to sugar alcohol.
How to take it: You’ll get in 5,000 micrograms of B12 with 1 lozenge a day.
4. Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12 – 60 count
Why we chose it: This chewable has over 11,000 reviews and high star ratings online. Bonus for all of us that are forgetful, you only need to take this supplement every few days and it uses the most bioavailable form of B12 (methylcobalamin).
Considerations: The sugar alcohol xylitol is in this supplement as well but may not be as tough on your gut if you’re only taking it every few days.
How to take it: Dissolve in mouth or chew 1 lozenge every 3 to 4 days with a meal. This will provide you 5000 micrograms of B12.
5. Vitafusion Vitamin B12 Gummy – 140 count
Why we chose it: If you want a great tasting supplement, get this in your medicine cabinet stat. Reviewers love the raspberry flavor, and the gummy form makes taking this vitamin a little more of a treat.
Considerations: The addition of glucose syrup and sugar causes these gummies to contain calories and carbs alongside B12. This could be a dealbreaker for anyone following a low carb diet or who wants to avoid a supplement with added sugar.
How to take it: Thoroughly chew 2 gummies per day to get in 1000 micrograms of B12.
6. Solimo Vitamin B12 – 100 count
Why we chose it: Gelatin is a common ingredient used in gummies, which makes it a nonviable option for vegans. Solimo went the pectin-based route, which is a fiber from fruits. Not only can vegans enjoy this raspberry flavored gummy, so can individuals allergic to gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, and egg (since it’s free of them).
Considerations: Again, this gummy contains added sugar to make the gummy seem more like candy and less like a supplement. Even though it’s a small amount (2 grams to be exact), this might not be for you if you’re trying to avoid excess sugar.
How to take it: Chew 2 gummies completely to get a 3000 micrograms dose of B12 in each day.
7. Doctor’s Best Fully Active B12 – 60 count
Why we chose it: One of the most affordable B12 supplements on the list, you can get 2 months’ worth of active B12 supplements at about the same cost of a fancy cup of coffee. It also can be taken by vegans and vegetarians. Plus, it’s free of GMOs, gluten, sugar, and soy.
Considerations: Some individuals may have complications with swallowing capsules, and it takes longer for your body to break down compared to chewables or gummies that are pre-broken down when chewed. That means capsules may take longer to absorb.
How to take it: Take 1 capsule daily with a meal to get in 1500 micrograms of B12.
8. Salt Lake Supplements Vitamin B12 Liquid – 2 fluid ounces
Why we chose it: This product is heavily marketed toward vitamin B12, but it’s technically a B complex supplement.
What we mean by that is beyond B12 it also contains B2, B3, B5, and B6. Studies have shown that B complex vitamins can help reduce stress and boost your cognition. Not only that, but a 2013 study found that 60 days of a B complex vitamin reduced depression and anxiety symptoms in 60 adults.
Considerations: Since it’s a liquid, proper dosage could be a bit more complicated compared to a capsule or gummy (especially after you check out those dosage instructions). It’s also another supplement that contains sugar alcohol in the form of sorbitol, which could create some bad belly rumbles.
How to take it: Shake well before using it each time. Fill the dropper halfway and then squirt it under your tongue and hold for 20 seconds. After that, swallow the supplement and repeat the same directions so you get the full dose (1 ml). One full dose gives you 1200 micrograms of B12.
9. MaryRuth’s Methyl B12 Organic Liquid Spray – 1 fluid ounce
Why we chose it: Not only does this supplement set itself apart by being a spray, it’s a tasty berry flavor with no added sugar. It’s vegan and kid-friendly, and made with organic ingredients (if that’s your style). It’s free of gluten, wheat, yeast, soy, and GMOs.
More research needs to completed, but one study done by the Cardiff School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2013 found that B12 sprays may be absorbed quicker to rapidly give you the B12 recommended levels.
Considerations: One downfall is that it’s the most expensive supplement on this list, lasting you only a few months before you need to restock.
How to take it: Just 4 sprays in your mouth daily gives you 3000 micrograms of B12.
Although B12 is a water-soluble vitamin (so your body pees out the excess), you still shouldn’t add a supplement without a trip to your doctor to test your vitamin levels.
Doing this will give you a better idea of the severity of a B12 deficiency (if there is one) and how much B12 you should be taking on the reg.
If you’re vegan, supplementing with B12 is basically a necessity. Some capsules and gummies can use animal products so making sure to thoroughly check ingredients is important, or looking for a vegan certified product.