4 Questions to Help You Determine How Much B12 to Take
Vitamin B12 isn’t a fleeting fad. It’s required for optimal brain, nerve, and blood cell function, not to mention the processes of metabolism and DNA formation. It’s natural energizing effects (and critical role in sleep improvement) are almost just added benefits! Regardless of the reason for taking it, many people wonder just how much B12 to take each day.
Whether you’re aiming to get enough B12 through food, oral supplements, or shots, you’ll need to know how much your body requires.
Determining How Much B12 to Take
The short answer: adults need 2.4 micrograms daily. Figuring out how much B12 to take depends on a few personal factors, though.
1. Are You Deficient in Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. A doctor can help determine if you are deficient and suggest the best method for you to increase your intake.
Generally, B12 shots are the best method, as they are more readily absorbed than oral supplements. However, if you’re deficient, a healthcare provider may suggest starting with 2,000 mcg daily and decreasing over time. B12 injections are often recommended for ongoing maintenance at a dose of 1,000 mcg per month.
2. Are You Getting Enough B12 in Your Diet?
Vegetarians, vegans, and those who follow other limited meat diets are at the highest risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Talk to your doctor before changing your diet or to see if you may need B12 shots or supplements. Keep in mind that healthy people only absorb about 10 mcg of a 500 mcg oral supplement, so they may recommend a dosage higher than anticipated.
3. Are You Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
Pregnant women may require a bit more vitamin B12 than the average adult. Though only a slightly higher recommended dose, pregnant women should strive for 2.6 mcg each day, while breastfeeding women should get about 2.8 mcg daily.
4. Are You Over 50 Years Old?
As we get older, our bodies may not absorb vitamin B12 as effectively. People over 50 should ask their doctor about B12 deficiency. Generally, supplementing with 25-100 mcg per day is sufficient for older people.
If you meet any of the above criteria, you may need to supplement vitamin B12. Ask your healthcare provider to assess the possibility and recommend how much B12 to take.