- Kelin M
Best B12 Supplements for Energy
Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Are you feeling sluggish no matter how much you sleep? Is caffeine no longer enough to give you the energy you need to conquer the day? It could be low B12.
B12 isn't a stimulant like a shot of espresso. If you have sufficient levels, supplementing won't likely make you feel any difference. However, if you are among the growing group of people deficient in B12 (as much as 40% of some populations), improving your levels might be exactly what your body needs.
One of the primary signs of B12 deficiency is low energy. B12 helps the body make red blood cells which carry oxygen to all parts of your body, so when you're low in B12 you may feel weak, tired, depressed (B12 helps your body make serotonin), or foggy headed.
The good news: almost every symptom of B12 deficiency is reversible! If your symptoms aren't severe and you want to try incorporating more B12 rich foods into your diet, food sources of B12 include:
If you noticed they're mostly animal products, you're correct. Naturally occurring vegan sources of B12 are almost nonexistent but many breakfast cereals and plant-based milks are fortified with B12. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that vegetarians are especially susceptible to B12 deficiency, with vegans having as high as 86.5% rate of deficiency in one study reviewed.
An excellent alternative to fortified foods (or injections, which many doctors will recommend to vegans and vegetarians) is supplementation. Those on a plant-based diet aren't the only ones who can benefit from supplementation! Diet alone is not always adequate to boost B12 levels.
B12 absorption relies on something called intrinsic factor, which is a protein that binds to B12 allowing it to be absorbed. Intrinsic factor is normally produced by the stomach lining but factors such as aging, bacterial overgrowth, or certain health conditions can reduce the stomach lining's ability to produce intrinsic factor leading to B12 deficiency.
Now back to that good news. You CAN reverse your deficiency and improve your energy level if you suspect low B12 is behind your fatigue, even if you have low intrinsic factor, are vegan, or don't like any of the foods rich in B12. Intramuscular injections are an option, but clinical trials showed that when given a large dose of B12 orally, a small percentage (about 1%) was absorbed through "passive diffusion" (aka without the help of intrinsic factor). This means that if you take a high-dose supplement, you should see an improvement (and don't worry- if you take too much, the excess will come out in your urine).
Below are our top B12 supplement recommendations for energy. All of our recommendations are sublingual to bypass the digestive system. They all have rave reviews, come from GMP-certified manufacturers to ensure consistent quality, and have high doses to make sure you absorb enough with or without intrinsic factor.
And of course, in Ingredient Nerd fashion, we'll be paying close attention to the ingredients so you're not getting B12 with a side of junk!
Our favorite: Why Not Natural B12
Why we love it: This B12 has a cult-like following because for so many people, it worked where injections and countless other supplements failed. We always emphasize products with a really sturdy ingredient list and this one passes the test. No dyes, no sweeteners, no preservatives (besides the natural citrus extract), and the most bioavailable form of B12, methylcobalamin! If you're exhausted because you're low in B12, this one will turn things around quickly with 5000 mcg B12 per serving. This one is also vegan!
Best tablet: MegaFood Methyl B12
Why we love it: this one has as clean of an ingredient list as you'll find with a tablet! We especially love the addition of B6 and Folate, two other B vitamins that can help with energy. Reviewers report experiencing higher energy levels!
There are fillers (like silicon dioxide which may have some toxicity, but not likely at this dose) but overall it's a minimal and unproblematic ingredient list.
Best gummies: VivaNaturals B12 & D3
Why we love it: We're not going to judge you if you want your vitamins in gummy form (you big kid!). Note that a serving is 2 gummies, so you're only getting 30 servings in this bottle, but what we really like is that this uses the methylcobalamin form of B12 and has 5000 mcg. It's also a nice addition that it has D3 (many people are deficient in both and feel fatigued as a result), although you might want to take your D3 separately as it's fat soluble and not necessarily something you need to mega-dose every day.
This only has 2 grams of sugar per serving (not a lot as far as gummies go) and the ingredient list is pretty clean. It's more expensive per serving than others on this list, but if you're really set on gummies, this is the one to choose! Note that this is NOT vegan.
Best lozenge: Stop Aging Now Max B12
Why we love it: Besides the catchy marketing of that brand name, what we really like that this uses the better form of B12, methylcobalamin, and at a hefty 5000 mcg dose making it very effective at correcting a deficiency!
We don't love all the ingredients. Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, may cause diarrhea. Fructose can wreak havoc on your body (we're not sure how much this contains- it doesn't say). The caking agent, fillers, etc. are sort of necessary for a lozenge. But all in all, you're only taking one per day and people have seen positive effects from taking this one! There are 30 servings per bottle, and it doesn't appear to be vegan.
Best spray: Salt Lake Supplements B12 Spray
Why we love it: We love the idea of supplementing via spray! You'll need 5 sprays to get 2500 mcg. Ignore the reviews claiming this uses cyanocobalamin, as the formula has been updated to use methylcobalamin. This has a clean ingredient list, is fairly concentrated, and has good reviews! Seems like a solid buy to us.
If you've been feeling your energy decline with no clear explanation why, low B12 could be the culprit. Always check with your doctor to confirm a deficiency. If you are deficient in B12, there are plenty of options! Whether you decide to eat more B12-rich food, ask your doctor for injections, or choose one of the supplements above, the hardest part of reversing a B12 deficiency is figuring out that you have one and taking action! You're already one step closer to feeling more energetic.