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Vitamin B12 Supplement Guide

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vitamin b12 supplement guide

This article covers B12 Supplementation for fighters or athletes and is part of our No BS Supplement Guide series of articles designed to give a research-based look at the popular supplements to see if it’s actually worth your money to supplement or not.

One of the supplements you’ll sometimes see athletes take is Vitamin B12, either in oral form or as an injection (the Vitamin B12 injections are popular with some foreign fighters in Thailand, for example)

What is Vitamin B-12?

Vitamin B-12 is a water soluble vitamin provided as a dietary supplement that aids significantly in the function of our nervous system, blood vessels and brain functions. B-12 is only found in animal products i.e. meat, dairy products, & seafood. Not to mention it has a key role in the regularity and efficiency of our metabolism.

B12 is naturally obtained through meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and shellfish. It is, however, not commonly found in most plants (except a few kelps). Our bodies can store Vitamin B (unlike other vitamins such as Vitamin C).

B-12 Deficiency

If you do not eat enough animal protein or you are deficient in protein that allows your body to absorb B12, deficiency may occur and supplementation may be needed.

Depleted levels of B-12 will cause all-around body fatigue including exhaustion, mumbled thinking, aches etc. It’s especially important when training or preparing for a fight to keep a well sustained diet with B-12 in it, this will, if you are deficient in it, increase your performance in the gym and provide your critical body systems a needed component.

One study suggested that over 40 percent of Americans may be deficient (the elderly are especially vulnerable).

The Hype & Claims Made About B12 Supplementation

B-12 boasts (according to the supplement companies who sell it) promises of a faster metabolism, stronger DNA, reduced fatigue, and improved mental clarity.

B12 supplements (especially quick B12 shots at specialized weight-loss clinics) have been touted as an easy fix to losing weight and increasing energy. Because of these claims, supplementing with B12 has gained some popularity.

With so many products and supplements available, these claims are nothing we haven’t heard before, although studies do indicate that vitamin B-12, itself, is a substantial contributor to the body systems that are responsible for things like our hair, eyes, liver, & skin.

What is less clear, however, is if there is any actual benefit for people with normal levels of B12 to supplement with B12. There are some definite situations where B12 supplementation is recommended. However, our conclusion (and that of research studies) does not show B12 to be a cure all wonder vitamin for fatigue.

In this article I’m going to breakdown key points relating supporting the claims that B-12 really is this powerhouse of a vitamin it claims to be.

Top Recommendation

VeganSafe B-12 - Vegan Vitamin B12 by Global HealingOne of the best B-12 supplements available is VeganSafe B-12. It combines the two predominantly active forms of vitamin B-12 for a high quality synthesis that results in a superior product. Compared to other supplements on the market that use chemicals such as xylitol & sorbitol which are basically low quality sugars used for cost-cutting purposes, VeganSafe is truly the most accurate substitute for replicating naturally occurring B-12 that your body would otherwise produce. Note, if you can get B12 NATURALLY from your diet, we recommend this over any synthetic B12 supplements.

I’ll be reviewing my top five Vitamin B-12 supplement options (for those who decide they want to supplement) to choose from later in the article.

What the Research Shows About B12

Numerous studies performed on the vitamin B-12 indicate a number of significant health benefactors that the nutrient contributes to.

The main benefits studies have shown B12 having a positive effect on:

B12 Deficiency

Being one of the 8 B vitamins, B-12 is a major player in the operation of virtually every function our bodies perform. Lacking sufficient amounts of B-12 in your diet can lead to variety of different health defects and problems.

Research has proven that low levels of B-12 can cause:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of memory
  • A reduction in appetite
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Always feeling fatigued
  • Digestive irritation
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Breathing problems
  • Joint pain
  • Bad dental health
  • In severe cases a B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia

It’s a pretty safe bet to conclude that you don’t want to be deficient in B12!

The Research Consensus

So, does B12 really live up to the hype?

Well, B-12 has been historically proven to boost energy and help regulate our body’s major systems more efficiently.

The main reason for supplementing with B-12 are to counter a deficiency. The problem with this is that the signs of a B-12 deficiency can range from loss of appetite all the way up to anemia.

Supplementing with B12 is NOT in anyway a performance enhancer or even a supplement that will give you some sort of metabolic or strength advantage as a fighter (or athlete). Supplementation is ONLY meant to counter deficiency of the vitamin to give your body enough to maintain normal functions.

Before Supplementing, Check with a doctor

You should not necessarily start supplementing with B-12 just because you feel tired or depressed as these symptoms can actually indicate other problems.

I would advise going to your doctor and let them perform a blood test to check your B-12 levels and any other factors that could be contributing to how you’re feeling. With that being said, if you already take supplements like pre-workouts for energy before training I would suggest trying replacing them with B-12.

The neurological and overall health benefits of vitamin B-12 are far outweigh the unregulated dietary supplement industry, even if you’ve been taking an energy supplement such as a pre-workout for an extended period of time and haven’t had any signs of it damaging your body doesn’t mean that it’s not a slow burn.

I’ve been on pre-workouts and energy shots before while training and majority of them contain chemicals that in fact have the exact opposite effect on your body that supplementing with B-12 would.

Most energy supplements offered by companies override our body’s natural process to achieve a quicker synthesis for gaining results, after pushing our body’s to the limit with pipe-line supplement after pip-line supplement with no regulation is like play Russian roulette with your body. Vitamin B-12 naturally occurs in our bodies and is already a part of our biological code.

We need it and there’s problems when you don’t have enough of it.

Vitamin B-12 is definitely something to give a shot if you suffer from fatigue AND your diet does not naturally include enough B12.

The largest group that’s most at risk of B12 deficiency are vegetarians due to B12 not easily obtained from non meat sources.

B12 & Lifting Weights

Majority of us work hard in the gym and want a product that will supplement our rigorous training schedule, then vitamin B-12 may have positive benefit in some areas such as increased energy and fatigue reduction.

Imagine you’re on a strict cutting regime and just finished training for you next upcoming fight, you feel worn out physically and mentally yet you have another training session at 6am and it’s already 10pm.

The take away here is that IF you are deficient in B12, you may see some real benefits. If you are NOT deficient in it (i.e. you eat a balanced diet with meat), B12 may not do anything for you. Adding MORE B12 than you need won’t do anything

My Experience with B12 While Training Muay Thai

Vitamin B12 is a supplement I used to take once a week in the form of an injection back when I was actively fighting. I can’t give any scientific proof that it worked for me, but I did feel less overall fatigue. Keep in mind that my diet contained plenty of mean (and I assume B12), but due to the heavy training (6 days a week, 6 hours a day), my body may not have been absorbing enough B12 due to fatigue. I did feel a benefit and because of that, I recommend you try the B12 injection. If you are not training as a fighter full time, then there is likely no need unless you are a vegetarian.

Should you supplement with B-12?

Here comes the tough part, should “you!” supplement with B-12?

The answer is in the question! “Does B-12 work?” “Yes.” — it’s an essential vitamin and if you are deficient in it, there are serious health issues associated with that.

Will it work for you?

Based on the available studies and the overall research, it may offer some general health benefits (and it may help counter fatigue). But, to see those benefits, you’ll probably need to be deficient. The truth is that most people who have a regular meat-centric diet will have plenty of B12 available in their bodies.

B-12 For Energy?

Most people who take B-12 for energy have a deficiency thus once taking the supplement their bodies are restored to its natural operation. If you’re a fighter though and you already eat healthy and watch levels of vitamin intake, cholesterol, calories etc. it’s not likely that you will feel a significant difference in energy levels.

B-12 & Your Muscles?

The same can go for the muscle related attributes associated with B-12 however its ability to promote immune health and other neurological functions of our brains cannot be denied!

Vitamin B-12 is still a great supplement to have on hand to keep your entire system balanced!

Who should supplement with B-12?

Most people should supplement with B-12 if your diet consists of lots of greens, vegans and vegetarians in particular should supplement with B-12 as they lack the nutrient provided that it present in meat and dairy products.

Also if you eat fast food or a lot of wheat, rice, and bread but lack whole lean meats as a part of your diet, you should try B-12 if you feel symptoms of fatigue or weakness. People with nerve tremors or shaking also should supplement with B-12 as it’s proven to improve the health of our brain and nervous system.

Again, for MOST meat-eaters, you likely have enough B12 in your diet NOT to need supplemenatation.

Who Should Supplement with B12?

Most people have plenty of B12 sourced from a diet that contains animal products. However, there are a few situations where you may want to supplement.

You are a vegetarian

B12 is NOT available from most plants, but highly available in animal products. If you are a vegetarian, you will almost certainly be deficient in B12 unless you are supplementing or specifically eating the limited plant sources that contain it (forms of kelp have B12). If you are a vegetarian, you should be supplementing.

You are a fighter who trains full time

Some people do take in enough B12 from a balanced diet, but their bodies are unable to absorb the B12. If you are a hard training athlete and your body is consistently under stress and / or overtrained, it could be your body is not able to easy absorb B12 (and other vitamins). So there may be some benefits to supplement as an athlete.

You’ll have to take it and find out! Many people attest to claims of feeling much higher energy levels after being on a B-12 regimen. This could be true however you have to consider the person’s genetic makeup and current physical health.

You are above 50 and deficient

It’s a known fact that your body’s ability to absorb nutrients — and vitamin B12 — decreases with age. Those above the age of 60 may need to supplement, depending. We recommend checking your B12 levels via a blood test if you are old and you experience symptoms like fatigue and memory loss.

B-12 For Fighters

As for fighters most of us eat meat and dairy products daily.

So unless you’re on an all greens diet for your next fight B-12 isn’t necessarily mandatory or even suggested to take, especially younger fighters. Ages 30+ may want to see a doctor for blood tests just to confirm levels.

Supplementation for fighters

Supplement if: Your diet calls for you to cut our things such as chicken, poultry, beef, seafood, eggs, milk etc. These are all sources for naturally occurring B-12 so if meat and dairy are a regular part of your diet there is no need for you to supplement with B-12.

Don’t supplement if: Your diet regularly consist of meat and dairy products. Most fighters eat meat to gain weight and extract protein, the natural nutrients found in meat contain high levels of B-12 especially in seafood so there’s no need to include B-12 supplementation in your diet if you eat these products regularly.

Best B-12 Supplement Brands

If you are deficient in B12 or you feel you would benefit from supplementation (say you are a vegetarian), then here are my recommended 5 brands to get your B12 from.

The truth is that B12 is B12 and you’ll likely be just fine with any off-the-shelf variety.

As always, I recommend you get B12 from NATURAL sources first if you can (B12 is found in animal products — eggs, shellfish, meats). But if you can’t easily get it in your natural diet from natural foods, then here are the synthetic B12 supplements with good reputations for quality.


VeganSafe B-12 - Vegan Vitamin B12 by Global Healing

Vegan Safe B12

VeganSafe B-12 contains methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin which are the primary sources for active B-12 found outside of the naturally produced B-12 our bodies generate. Global Health which is the company that produces VeganSafe B-12 has been around since 1998. Customers have note significant increases in energy while taking VeganSafe B-12 and for those who suffer from nervous system disorders found that they notice changes taking places within weeks of taking this supplement. VeganSafe B-12 is also very good for fighting homocysteine which can increase your chances of cardiovascular disorders. When you look at the research over the years built to prove B-12’s effectiveness, you can’t go wrong with one of the only supplements that offer 2 high quality active forms! VeganSafe B-12 is my #1 choice for a B-12 supplement!

#2 Jarrow Formulas Methylcobalamin (Methyl B12)

Jarrow Formulas methylcobalamin B-12 supplement contains 5000 micrograms per lozenge. Customer have reported that this product has helped cure diabetic related syndromes causing memory loss and even hypothyroidism. Jarrow Formulas offer methylcobalamin B-12 in several dosages including: 500mcg, 1000mcg, 2500mcg, and the most potent 5000mcg. Depending on the severity of your B-12 deficiency or any other symptom causing you to seek B-12 supplementation, you want to consult a doctor to get recommendation for your required dose. Methyl B-12 is a higher quality form of the vitamin B-12 which is absorbed more fluidly and can be stored better than most forms. This is why Jarrow Formulas methylcobalamin B-12 comes in at #2 on our list, they have been in business since 1977 providing high quality medical supplements & prescriptions.

#3 Vitafusion Energy B12 Gummy Vitamins

Vitafusion Energy B12 Gummy Vitamins contain 500 mcg of B-12 and are all natural. This comes in at #3 for its great source of high quality B-12 in a gummy form. For those of us who don’t really suffer from a B-12 deficiency but would like to boost overall energy or mental performance these are a great option! People who have tried VitaFusion’s Energy B-12 Gummy Vitamins reported boosts in energy levels and in some cases people who previously took shots to treat their anemia have switched to this product for an easier less painful option for treatment. This is why Vitafusion Energy B12 Gummy Vitamins come in at #3 on my list. They come in many different flavors for you to choose from and the company Vitafusion has been around since 1998.

#4 Active B12 Lozenge with L-5-MTHF

Active B12 Lozenge with L-5-MTHF is sold exclusively by SeekingHealth. This product provides 800 mcg of pure non-racemic L-methylfolate with 1,000 mcg of active Vitamin B12. This is important because if you have allergies to meats or dairy products, you are extremely susceptible to vitamin B-12 deficiency. With SeekingHealth’s: Active B12 Lozenge with L-5-MTHF, you are free of forms of B-12 found in dairy, wheat, soy or meat products. Providing you with a high quality clean source to get B-12. Customers have reported that this product has helped them after miscarriages and with losing weight due to disorders caused by B-12 deficiency.

You can buy SeekingHealth’s: Active B12 Lozenge with L-5-MTHF by clicking this link

About Author

Ben has been living, training, and fighting in Thailand for the past 3 years. He has fought in a number of different combat arts such as MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai, and Western Boxing. Ben follows the latest fitness and nutrition research and is especially interested in how it can apply to combat sports to improve a fighter's performance in the ring. You can read Ben's full bio page here.

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