Vitamin B12 is a commonly sought out supplement but also vitamin deficiency. It is an essential vitamin for the healthy functioning of the nervous system, blood cell formation, nerve function, energy production, mental function, and heart health (1).
This is why it is recommended to monitor vitamin B12 blood levels, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian, to avoid potential deficiency which can create all sorts of health problems such as pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is a condition in which your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. This vitamin is required in order to make red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout your body.
The risk of a vitamin B-12 deficiency is increased among elderly people and those with gastrointestinal issues associated with poor absorption and low stomach acid. It is also associated with gastric bypass surgery, autoimmune disease such as celiac disease, and medications like oral contraceptives.
Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency may include lack of energy, cognitive impairment, weak muscles, weight loss, decreased appetite, depression, irritability, cardiovascular events, elevated homocysteine levels, and infertility (2).
How to Raise Your B12 Levels Fast
Food sources of vitamin B12 include fish, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and fortified foods such as nutritional yeast.
As this vitamin is mostly found in animal foods, those who are following strictly plant-based diets are at an increased risk for deficiency. This is why vitamin B12 is a common recommendation for vegans and vegetarians. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, therefore it must be obtained from food or supplements on a regular basis.
In the occurrence of a deficiency, the fastest way to raise vitamin B12 levels is via vitamin B12 injections or by taking an oral supplement.
How and when to take vitamin B12
In the case of more severe deficiencies of this vitamin, it may be treated with injections of vitamin B12, because this method bypasses any barriers to absorption. As such it is often recognized as the most effective method to elevate serum vitamin B12 levels.
However, oral supplementation can also be effective and is often recommended. Vitamin B12 supplements are available in capsule, tablet, or liquid form.
When choosing a dietary supplement, we suggest looking for the form methylcobalamin, the active form of the vitamin, for better absorption of vitamin B12. It is recommended to take it in the morning or at the beginning of your day with water as it can support energy levels.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from B12 Deficiency?
Bringing your levels of vitamin B12 back up to a normal range will depend on various factors such as the severity of the deficiency, the form of the supplement, dosage of the supplement, and health of the individual.
You may feel a difference right away or it might take a bit more time.
The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 mcg.
A standard dose of vitamin B12 is 1,000 mcg however, some people will require more as not all of it will typically be absorbed by the body.
It is recommended to consult your health care provider in order to best determine the correct dosing and course of action for you.
About the Author