Choosing the Best Vitamin B12 Supplements – Top 10 Brands

Best Vitamin B12 Supplement Brands

Metabolism is often thought of as a process for burning fat and weight loss, thanks to its use as a buzz word for metabolic workouts or fat burning products that increase metabolism and so on. Metabolism, however, is actually a chemical process the body is reliant upon to create and supply energy to the body. Genetically we tend to have faster or slower metabolisms and aspects of metabolism certainly influence our body composition and weight loss, but everyone absolutely needs a well-functioning metabolism system in order to live a healthy and full life.

Metabolism provides energy to the cells, organs, tissues and virtually every aspect of the body. In order for the chemical process of metabolism to function effectively, it requires a variety of inputs and ingredients. While the body needs macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy in the large scale, in order to produce metabolism, the body instead is more reliant upon the B-vitamin family, in particular vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12, more formally known as cobalamin, has several functions within the body but its primary role necessitates the proper functioning of our metabolism. It is needed as well for the formation of red blood cells, synthesis of our DNA and maintaining proper neurological function. Vitamin B12 deficiency can be one of the most devastating deficiencies to have in terms of micronutrients, thus vitamin B12 supplements have been an increasingly popular product in recent years.

In this article, we will examine vitamin B12 further and its uses for a healthy metabolism, the case or efficacy for its use as a dietary supplement, potential pitfalls and side effects, and finally we will break down the best vitamin B12 supplement products on the market today.

What Is Vitamin B12?

B12 is one of the most recognizable vitamins that make up the B-complex group of vitamins, largely because it has been touted by supplement and energy-drink/food manufacturers as having performance-enhancing effects without the negative aspects of more common ingredients like caffeine and sugar. While some have found this use of the vitamin helpful, it really does do so much more than that.

Vitamin B12 is more formally known and broadly classified as cobalamin. It is a water-soluble vitamin that can be naturally found in select foods, though it is often deficient in traditional wester diets and thus additional dietary supplementation is often necessary. Vitamin B12 also contains the mineral cobalt, thus the cobalamins collectively refer to the wide variety of B12 compounds available.

Methylcobalamin, as well as 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the two forms of vitamin B12 that are active in the human process of metabolism. Methylcobalamin, the more common form that can be found in many dietary supplements, is vitamin B12 attached to a methyl group, which helps convert toxins in the body into water soluble forms, allowing the body to excrete the toxins through urination. Thus, supplements with methylcobalamin have both the traditional metabolic effects of B12 as well as detoxifying element. Other popular forms of B12 in supplement form may include cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin.

Vitamin B12 in its natural state is bound to the protein found in food and released due to hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach. In supplement form, however, vitamin B12 is already freed from the proteins, thus it acts more effectively and much faster than naturally occurring vitamin B12. It is most often found in its natural state in clams and liver, though these are generally less popular food sources, thus most people on a typical western diet will consume the majority of their B12 through breakfast cereals, fish, and beef.

What Is Its Biological Role?

Vitamin B12 is responsible for helping in the creation of DNA,[1] a basic requirement for the formation of all cells. Vitamin B12 consumed from foods is bound to the protein in those foods, and so before it can be used by the body it must be made available by detaching it from those proteins.

This process happens naturally during digestion. Along with folate, vitamin B12 also has a significant role in lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood. Interestingly, recent studies have suggested that B12 may be used therapeutically to treat conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia; dementia patients seem to have very high levels of homocysteine in the blood compared to unaffected members of their demographic.

The hope is that therapeutically high doses of B12 may help treat these conditions because B12 has such a strong ability to lower the body’s homocysteine levels.[2]

What Foods Contain Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 can be easily found in the diet of all omnivores, as it is bound to proteins in the food you eat. This includes meats, fish, eggs, milk, and other dairy products. Two of the best sources of B12 are beef liver and clams.

Beef liver, however, has very high levels of cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation for this reason. Most cold breakfast cereals are high in vitamin B12 and can be an easy way for vegetarians to get bioavailable B12 from their diet.

Ovo-vegetarians can also make a point of consuming eggs regularly to bolster their vitamin B12 consumption from dietary sources.

Who Are Vitamin B12 Supplements Best Suited For?

Vitamin B12 is first and foremost best suited for those with a vitamin B12 deficiency. Serious deficiencies will require medical attention and may need prescription level doses, if you suspect you have a serious B12 deficiency contact your medical professional first. For most, however, diets low in B12 will benefit from a simple B12 supplement either as a preventative measure or for mild deficiencies.

It also has a key role in our overall energy. As previously stated, it plays a key role in our metabolism which is broadly defined as our body’s method for creating energy. Vitamin B12 is a critical piece of that chemical process which includes our bodies ability to convert macronutrients such as carbohydrates into usable energy such as glucose. Those with less than optimal vitamin B12 will likely experience an increase in their energy levels after supplementation, and it is a popular ingredient in energy drinks and similar substances.

Vitamin B12 also has noted benefits for memory and cognition and improving our neurotransmitter signaling, along with nerve health. Its role in metabolism and assisting with red blood cells helps improve blood flow, energy and overall health, making it ideal for anyone looking to improve energy and overall health.

Those with ample vitamin B12 in their diet will experience less pronounced to minimal effects from supplementation however.

How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?

Homocysteine is a free radical in the blood [3] that can have negative effects on your cardiovascular health. This particular free radical occurs in greater numbers when individuals undergo intense workouts.

The more intense the workout, the higher the amount of homocysteine the body produces. This can make it more difficult to recover after a workout as well. Vitamin  B12 can significantly lower an individual’s levels of homocysteine, decreasing both recovery time and risk of cardiovascular problems as a result of high homocysteine levels.

Also, vitamin B12 is frequently added to energy drinks and other performance enhancing products because of the propensity of B-complex vitamins to increase energy levels. While there is no officially recognized medical evidence that this is effective, many users of these types of products have found a performance enhancing effect can be achieved without the use of caffeine or sugar.

Use of Vitamin B12 and Potential Side Effects

As with any supplement or health-related product, it is always advised to consult with a medical professional on if it is the right choice for you, and it is also always advised to follow the recommended dosing strategy by the product.

When taking a vitamin B12 supplement, if the dosage and/or overall consumption is in line with the recommended dose, there are no side effects generally speaking. However, once you begin to increase dosage amounts beyond that level, you may begin to see possible side effects such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and an upset stomach. These are essentially your body’s way of telling you you’ve had too much and it doesn’t need the excess.

If you are unsure what the proper dosage is, consult with your medical professional and check the product packaging for the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) as well. The RDA will vary depending on age, gender and in general your activity level as well.

How Much Of It Do You Need?

Recommended daily intake levels for vitamin B12 vary throughout childhood, but normalize at 14 years of age. The recommended daily intake for anyone aged 14 and over is 2.4mcg per day.

This dosage can change if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. For pregnancy, recommended daily intake increases to 2.6mcg per day, and increases to 2.8mcg per day if you are breastfeeding.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

According to the National Institute of Health, there is no officially established upper limit for safe consumption of vitamin B12, and no side effects of excessive consumption that could be characterized as B12 toxicity. Presumably, this has to do with the way B12 is processed by the body, and the body’s ability to rid itself of excess B12 via urine and sweat.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

Not consuming enough vitamin B12 can have negative consequences. B12 deficiency can cause permanent damage to your nervous system, numbness or tingling in the extremities, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, and other similar symptoms.

Eventually, B12 deficiency can lead to a condition known as megaloblastic anemia where your red blood cells do not form properly and so cannot effectively carry oxygen to other tissues inside your body. Groups at particular risk for B12 deficiency are adults over age 50, who may have lower levels of the stomach acids required to make B12 bioavailable, and individuals with a condition called pernicious anemia.

Pernicious anemia involves the body’s inability to produce intrinsic factor, something normally present in the stomach that helps absorb certain vitamins like B12.

How to Pick a Good Vitamin B12 Product

Most vitamin B12 products will have little variability in their ingredients, generally it will just be some form of vitamin B12, therefore you’ll have to identify which version of vitamin B12 is the right choice for you and look for that option. Vitamin B12 comes in capsule forms, powders to mix with drinks, drops and more. It is also often combined with other ingredients, which is a factor to consider.

Be sure when selecting a product to review any additional ingredients aside from vitamin B12, such as additional supplements, fillers, artificial additives etc. as these may carry their own side effects or dilute the quality of the product.

Finally, as with any good product decision, look for reputable brands that are backed by strong scientific backgrounds, as well as offering a strong value. A good rule of thumb in terms of comparing price and value is to evaluate the price per dose rather than overall dose, as most products will have varying sizes.

Top 10 Recommended Vitamin B12 Products

We have put together a list of our top 10 recommended vitamin B12 products. Each one has a short breakdown of its highlights, primary ingredients and usages, as well as a brief profile for the company who makes the product.

Check out all 10 and look for the best option that not only comes highly recommended but fits your individual needs and desires for vitamin B12 products. We hope you enjoy and find the best product for you!


1. Jarrow Formula’s Methyl B12

Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12

Jarrow Formula’s Methyl B12 is one of the best B12 supplements available on the market today. It is both flavored and chewable, making it one of the more convenient and tasty options available, and contains a solid amount of methylcobalamin. At an affordable price, this is an excellent value for a B12 supplement.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 5000mcg methylcobalamin
  • Flavored and chewable
  • Appropriate for vegans and vegetarians
  • Affordably priced for a great value

Company Profile:

Jarrow Formulas, based in sunny Los Angeles, California, is a nutritional supplement company with a wide variety of fitness supplements. They have been in business since 1988 and continue to distribute quality products throughout North America.

Why We Recommend It:

This is an excellent B12 supplement that uses the ideal form in methylcobalamin in a strong dose. It is flavored, affordable, and chewable for maximum convenience, all without excess preservatives or artificial fillers, making this an excellent product and value.

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2. Nature Made B12

Nature Made B12

Nature Made B12 comes in softgel capsules, using cyanocobalamin for easy absorption. It has a strong yet not overwhelming amount of B12, making it convenient and ideal for those looking for a mild boost. In addition, the fast absorbing B12 makes it a great product for quick usage and relief.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 1000mcg cyanocobalamin
  • Aborbs quickly
  • Affordably priced, a great value
  • Comes in softgel capsules
  • Suitable for both vegans and vegetarians

Company Profile:

Nature Made has been in the nutritional supplement industry for over 40 years and are a very well-respected brand. They are committed to using scientifically backed formulas in their products to deliver quality and effective nutrition options for their customers.

Why We Recommend It:

This is an excellent B12 supplement that offers fast acting results from cyanocobalamin. The dosage is not too extreme or high for casual users, and the softgel capsules make it easy and convenient to take. Affordably priced as well, this is an excellent value for a B12 supplement product.

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3. Now Foods B-12

Now Foods B 12 2000mcg 1

NOW Foods B12 2000mcg delivers a unique and potent B12 blend, using methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and dibencozide. The special formula delivers an effective dose that is also easily absorbed and balanced.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 2000mcg B12 formula of methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and dibencozide
  • Comes in vitamin lozenges
  • A well-balanced product, with multiple B12 sources
  • Affordably priced

Company Profile:

NOW Foods is the maker of this product, and they are considered to be one of the companies in the greater supplement industry. For decades, they have produced products that are very high in quality yet also specialize in simplicity. They have a wealth of products, over 1,000 and are a major player in the industry.

Why We Recommend It:

This B12 supplement from Now Foods is one of the best on the market for its superior absorption due to its balanced B12 formula with multiple sources. It comes in easy to use vitamin lozenges and is affordably priced as well. This makes it an excellent option from a well-regarded company.

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4. Seeking Health Active B12

Seeking Health Active B12

Formulated by physicians, Seeking Health Active B12 is a vitamin B12 lozenge that is fortified by folate for additional support. It also uses a blend of two different types of B12 for a balanced and quality product.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 1000mcg methylcobalamin and adenosylcboalamin
  • 800mcg folate
  • Formulated by physicians
  • Comes in lozenge form
  • More expensive than other B12 options

Company Profile:

Seeking Health is a dietary and nutritional supplement company focused on creating and providing supplement that optimize health. They utilize a holistic approach to health and practice a belief in preventative health, using diet, lifestyle and mental wellbeing to achieve an ideal state.

Why We Recommend It:

While this is an excellent product and is a high quality and potency option, it is also one of the most expensive options available, especially as compared to similar products that offer better value. Nevertheless, it is a vitamin B12 product and certainly provides all the benefits desired, and may be one of the better options for athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking for one of the stronger options on the market.

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5. Natrol Vitamin B12

Natrol Vitamin B12 1

Natrol Vitamin B12 is one of tastier and easiest to take B12 supplements on the market. It comes in a dissolvable B12 tablet that is strawberry flavored and is sublingual, or can be dissolved under the tongue, making it a great on the go option. It uses cyanocobalamin and is an ideal option for vegetarians.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 5000mcg cyanocobalamin
  • Comes in dissolvable, sublingual (under the tongue) tablets
  • Strawberry flavored
  • 100% vegetarian
  • Affordably priced

Company Profile:

Natrol has been in business for over 35 years, and have consistently produced quality products, thus their A rating from the Natural Products Association. They use innovation, excellent customer service and cost effectiveness to create quality and affordable products such as biotin, melatonin, and 5-HTP.

Why We Recommend It:

This supplement from the reputable Natrol brand is one of the most effective on the market, with the added unique benefit of a dissolvable sublingual tablet for extra convenience. While it does not specify if it suitable for vegans, it is 100% vegetarian and delivers one of the more potent doses of cyanocobalamin on the market today.

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6. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Vitamin B12

Garden Of Life Vitamin Code Vitamin B12

As is expected from industry stalwart Garden of Life products, this B12 supplement not only contains a healthy dose of B12 but also includes the signature Garden of Life probiotic and fruit and veggie blends. It uses methylcobalamin for B12, and delivers a variety of additional vitamins and minerals for a well-balanced product.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 1000mcg methylcobalamin
  • 60mg RAW probiotic and enzyme blend
  • 20mg RAW organic fruit and vegetable blend
  • One of the more expensive products on the market

Company Profile:

Garden of Life, the maker of this B12 supplement, is a popular manufacturer of health and fitness supplements, along with health foods and related products. They have been a leader in the health supplement industry and specialize in utilizing raw whole foods and organic sources for their products.

Why We Recommend It:

This product from Garden of Life is one of the more well-rounded and balanced B12 supplements available, with a plethora of micronutrients available. It has a mild dose of methylcobalamin, making it ideal for those looking for a balanced B12 vitamin, though it is priced higher than many comparable products in terms of B12 content.

7. Source Naturals MethylCobalamin Vitamin B-12

Source Naturals Methylcobalamin Vitamin B 12

Source Naturals MethylCobalamin Vitamin B12 delivers a mild yet effective 1000mcg dose of B12 in a cherry flavored sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue. Free of all common allergens or preservatives, it is an ideal product for a simple and pure B12 supplement.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 1000mcg methylcobalamin
  • Free of common allergens such as soy, dairy, and gluten
  • No artificial fillers or preservatives
  • Cherry flavored
  • Uses a sublingual (dissolves under tongue) tablet

Company Profile:

Source Naturals is one of the pioneers of the nutritional supplement industry. Founded in 1982, they combined herbs, nutraceuticals and nutrients for an innovative and effective approach to health as part of a holistic approach to health and wellness.

Why We Recommend It:

This B12 supplement from Source Naturals is a tasty sublingual tablet that delivers a moderate dose of B12 without any additional preservatives, fillers or common allergens. It is a bit slow to dissolve, however at an affordable price it is a good product for pure B12.

8. Nature’s Bounty Sublingual Vitamin B-12

Natures Bounty Sublingual Vitamin B 12

Nature’s Bounty Sublingual Vitamin B-12 is one of the strongest B12 supplements on the market delivering 5000mcg cyanocobalamin in each tablet. It also includes dibencozide for additional support.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 5000mcg cyanocobalamin
  • 100mcg dibencozide
  • Dissolvavle under the tongue (sublingual)
  • Not ideal for vegans
  • Does not dissolve as fast as some other competitors
  • Affordably priced

Company Profile:

Nature’s Bounty is one of the largest supplement and vitamin manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1971, their products can be found in many local stores and retailers. They have been producing quality products for decades and continue to produce quality vitamins and supplements.

Why We Recommend It:

This is a very good and effective supplement, with a particularly strong dose of cyanocobalamin. It is an effective sublingual, although the slow dissolve time is a drawback. At the affordable price, it comes with it is a solid value overall and a ideal for vegetarians, though it is not suitable for vegans.

9. Solgar Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12

Solgar Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12

Solgar Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 is an effective and strong B12 supplement, delivering a strong 5000mcg of methylcobalamin per serving. It comes in a dissolvable sublingual tablet, and is free of all common allergens including gluten, wheat, and dairy. It is also certified kosher, making it an excellent and all natural product choice.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 5000mcg methylcobalamin
  • Suitable for vegetarians
  • Comes in a dissolvable sublingual (under the tongue)
  • Gluten, wheat and dairy free
  • Certified Kosher

Company Profile:

Solgar is one of the oldest, most respected and trusted brands in the health and supplement industry. Having started in 1947, they have been producing “top-quality, innovative, science-based nutritional supplements to support their total health and well-being” for decades. They utilize the Solgar Gold Standard to ensure their manufacturing practices are a high quality.

Why We Recommend It:

This vitamin V12 from industry stalwart Solgar is a strong and effective dissolvable tablet, and a great source for methylcobalamin. It does have a slower dissolve time than some of its competitors, and is suitable for vegetarians. It should be taken with food which can be inconvenient at times as well.

10. Doctor’s Best Fully Active B12

Doctors Best Fully Active B12

Fully Active B12 from Doctor’s Best is a vitamin B12 supplement that, unlike many of its competitors is inexpensively priced despite a strong dose of methylcobalamine. In addition, it is non-GMO, gluten and soy free, making it a strong value.

Product Highlights and Ingredients:

  • 1500mcg methylcobalamin
  • Should be taken with food
  • Suitable for vegans
  • One of the most affordable options on the market
  • Lower quantity per product than some competitors

Company Profile:

Doctor’s Best was founded by physicians in 1990 and have since expanded to offering over 200 different products to their customers. They specialize in using science-based nutrition practices to create their products and serve innovative and effective supplements to consumers.

Why We Recommend It:

This vitamin B12 supplement from one of the elder statesmen of the nutritional supplement industry in Doctor’s Best is an excellent choice for a first-time user or those looking for an inexpensive vitamin B12 source. With 1500mcg methylcobalamin it delivers a mild dose, ideal for beginners. It should be taken with food which can be inconvenient at times. It is also only available in one amount, which gives it a bit less flexibility than some of its competitors. It is a quality product overall, but may be more suited for beginners looking for a cheap B12 supplement rather than those looking for a serious or more potent B12 option.

Final Take

While ensuring that you get all of your needed nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, is important for everyone, vitamin B12 does seem to have particularly useful properties for fitness enthusiasts.

It just fits perfectly into a gym rat’s routine, helping preventing one of the few negative consequences of exercise and helping to improve energy. Anyone interested in working out or staying healthy and energetic may want to give the vitamin superhero some consideration.

References:

[1] University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin). University of Maryland Medical Center, 2015.

[2] WebMD. Vitamin B12: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, and Warnings. WebMD, 2016.

[3] WebMD. Homocysteine Levels and Heart Disease Risk. WebMD, 2016.

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Carl Putman

Written by Carl Putman

Carl Putman is a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level and writer on fitness, health and supplements. Over the past decade, he has worked with a wide variety of clients ranging from professional athletes and world champions to youth and general population, as well as tactical practitioners. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Based in Florida, he continues to train and coach as well as write with a passion for making a positive impact for his clients and readers.