Many people now regularly take B12 supplements. So they should too; of all the vitamins and minerals you could be consuming, B12 can have one of the biggest impacts on your health and performance.
B12 is a vital micro-nutrient. It is needed for numerous bodily processes.
Consuming extra B12 increases energy, promotes better nervous system function, improved cognitive performance, and supports the formation of new red blood cells.
Some people also have problems absorbing and utilizing B vitamins. This can leave them feeling lethargic, weak, and fatigued. Muscle cramps are common among people who don’t absorb B12 properly.
Vegans also struggle to get enough B12. Since we started washing our vegetables so thoroughly before eating, the only way most people can get B12 is through animal products. It is found in some plant foods, but these aren’t commonly eaten foods.
So whether you’re looking to increase energy levels, promote better cognitive function, or rectify some B12 intake issues, supplementing is a good idea.
But how much is too much?
Most B12 supplements deliver many hundreds of times your RDI of B12.
Is consuming too much B12 dangerous?
Is there a safe upper limit when it comes to B12 supplements?
In this article, I’ll explain what B12 does, why most people should consider supplementing with B12, and whether or not it is dangerous to consume too much B12.
If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section at the end of this article.
What B12 Does In The Body
B12 is an essential nutrient. If you don’t consume it on a fairly regular basis, then you will eventually die.
Yes, it is that serious!
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to consume it on a daily basis in order to survive.
Contrary to popular belief, you can store quite a bit of B12 in the liver for 2-4 years (depending on lifestyle). As such, cutting back on animal foods does not have the immediate impact on your health or performance that may people believe. You could stop consuming any B12 whatsoever for 2 years and not notice any difference.
But eventually, you will need to start consuming B12 again or you will start to see serious adverse effects.
B12 is necessary for a wide range of bodily functions, including:
- Red blood cell formation
- Fatty acid metabolism
- Regulation of DNA synthesis
- Nerve cell regulation
- Energy metabolism
So as you can see, B12 is a pretty important micro-nutrient!
It is involved in a variety of vital bodily functions. It is also important to note that B12 cannot be produced by the body from other materials – it needs to be consumed from external sources.
But does that mean you really need to be consuming B12 supplements?
Who Needs B12 Supplements
Supplementing with B12 is definitely beneficial. It can positively affect cognition, muscle efficiency, energy levels, and recovery.
Some people have even suggested that B12 supplementation can improve mood and safeguard cognitive function as we get older. While there is less evidence for these claims, there is still evidence.
However, not everybody needs to take a B12 supplement.
Whether or not you need a B12 supplement depends on a number of factors, including your diet.
B12 is found in high concentrations in the following foods:
- Clams (1,400% DV per 3oz)
- Beef liver (1,200% DV per 3oz)
- Salmon (80% DV per 3oz)
- Tuna (40% DV per 3oz)
- Milk (18% DV per cup)
- Egg (10% DV per portion)
- Chicken breast (5% DV per 3oz)
On top of this, many foods are fortified with B12. Most breakfast cereals, cereal bars, flours, yeasts, and many energy drinks are all fortified with B12. A standard serving from fortified foods is 25% DV, but this varies wildly from product to product.
If you regularly consume some of these foods, then you are highly unlikely to need B12 supplements.
You may want to consider supplementation even if you do consume these foods if you are highly active, you are worried about long-term cognitive function, or you often feel tired.
If you think you might be deficient in B12, then you really need to talk to your doctor asap.
The signs and symptoms of B12 deficiency are quite varied. They include:
- Loss of appetite
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should go and talk to a doctor right away.
Is Consuming Too Much B12 Dangerous?
You might have decided at this point that you can benefit from taking a B12 supplement.
Chances are, you’re right; it’s rare that I meet anyone who couldn’t benefit from a little extra B12.
But as you’ll see if you check out the most popular B12 supplements on the market today, most provide more than 500% of your DV.
Some contain as much as 50,000% of your DV!
That’s 500 times your recommended daily intake!
Is taking this much B12 safe?
How much B12 is dangerous?
As far as we can tell from the studies done so far, there is no such thing as a dangerous dose of B12.
A tolerable upper intake level for B12 has not been established.
Studies have given participants doses of 50,000% of the recommended daily intake. At this level, even mild side effects are rare.
No study has ever reported a severe adverse reaction to high doses of B12.
I know of no mechanism whereby a high B12 intake will cause health problems, even over the long term. People regularly consume large quantities of the stuff without any problems.
The body seems to be excellent at processing and storing B12.
It seems to be just as adept at getting rid of excess B12.
Is too much B12 dangerous?
The answer seems to be a clear and resounding “no”. B12 is very safe to consume on a regular basis and in large quantities.
It is possible that B12 might cause mild side effects if consumed at extremely high doses.
However, this has never been observed in a clinical trial, and people who do routinely use powerful B12 supplements rarely report any side effects.
You should certainly be safe using normal B12 supplements – the kind you find in your local health food store.
Consuming up to 40,000% of your RDI is safe for the vast majority of people.
If you don’t have a deficiency, just use a supplement which provides about 2,000-5,000% of your RDI and you will be fine!
It is not dangerous to consume too much B12 (within reason).
But it is dangerous to consume too little (if you go without it for long enough).
If you’re an older person, you have anemia, or you don’t eat any B12-rich animal products, you might want to consider taking a B12 supplement.
B12 supplements are extremely safe, you can store it for a long time, and the potential benefits are enormous.
If you’re looking for a sports-specific supplement, read my post on the best multivitamin for athletes.
I recommend checking out what I believe to be the best multivitamin on the market today ->Performance Lab Whole Food Multi Men’s.