The 5 Best Vitamin B12 Supplements

For this article, we took a look at all the vitamin B12 supplements available on the market and analyzed the best ones to help you narrow down your choices. Many people are aware of the necessity and health benefits of vitamin B12, but with that comes a lot of brands doing what they can to get a slice of the market.

As a result, there are so many options to choose from that it can be overwhelming trying to find the best vitamin B12 supplement for you. In order to determine the best vitamin B12 supplements on the market, we conducted our own testing, analyzed each product’s overall ingredients, pored over consumer reviews, and determined the value you’re getting for the price.

Before we get into our top choices for vitamin B12 supplements though, you might be wondering what the benefits are that you could get from them.

 

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a nutrient that plays an important role in many of the human body’s physiological functions. It helps with the production of DNA, helps keep blood and nerve cells healthy, and cell metabolism.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your body is actually capable of storing years’ worth of vitamin B12, so a deficiency in it is relatively uncommon. However, a deficiency can develop if you’re genetically predisposed to it, or in vegetarians and vegans because vitamin B12 is only naturally found in animal products.

 

Vitamin B12 Benefits

Aside from vitamin B12 being an essential part in many bodily functions, supplementation has multiple health benefits.

Some of them include:

It’s Healthy for the Hair, Skin, and Nails

Vitamin B12 is important for the health of the hair, skin, and nails because of its role in cell production. In people with skin conditions, research has shown that supplementation has positive outcomes. (1) (2)

It Could Play a Role in Providing Energy

In recent years, marketers have been touting vitamin B12 as providing some type of caffeine-like boost of energy. These claims are overblown, but vitamin B12 most likely can provide a modest boost of energy because it literally is involved in producing energy in the body, but you’re probably only likely to notice the difference if you have a deficiency. (3)

May Be Important in Mental Health

The role that vitamin B12 plays in depression, mood, and overall mental health is not entirely known. However, it is responsible for processing serotonin, which as you may know is a chemical that provides us with feelings of happiness and well-being. If you’re deficient in vitamin B12 and it’s not there to metabolize serotonin in your brain, it could lead to depression and other adverse psychological effects.

Could Help With Maintaining Healthy Brain Function

Brain atrophy is when the brain loses neurons. If this happens, it can result in serious conditions, such as dementia or memory loss.

There have been studies where patients who took vitamin B12 supplements saw less mental decline and improved memory. (4) (5)

May Prevent Birth Defects

Vitamin B12 is essential for the babies in the womb, as it’s used in the development of the brain and nervous system.

Studies have shown that a lack of vitamin B12 during the early stages of pregnancy can lead to major defects. (6) Vitamin B12 deficiency is also associated with premature birth and miscarriages.

Could Decrease Risk of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease and is the leading cause of vision loss.

In some studies, participants who took a vitamin B12 supplement were less susceptible to the condition. (7)

 

1. Pure Encapsulations – Methylcobalamin – Advanced Vitamin B12

Pure Encapsulations Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 Review

This methylcobalamin supplement by Pure Encapsulations is our top pick for the best vitamin B12 supplement on the market. It’s a little pricier than the alternatives, but we often find that with supplements, you get what you pay for.

There are several reasons we chose this supplement.

First, the product uses methylcobalamin as its source of vitamin B12. Basically what that means is that it comes in the most bioavailable form of vitamin B12. In other words, more can be absorbed into the body and put to use compared to other forms of the vitamin.

In addition, it has 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12, which is a potent dose but not that excessive.

Lastly, it’s made with a vegetarian cellulose capsule.

One bottle contains 180 pills, a three-months supply.

That’s it – this product is very simple but gets the job done without adding any superfluous extra ingredients.

Pros:

  • Made with methylcobalamin so it absorbs into your body more effectively
  • Has a potent dose of vitamin B12

Cons:

  • Price

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2. Best Vitamin B12 Supplement for Hair: Life Extension Folate & Vitamin B12

Photo of a bottle of LifeExtension Folate and Vitamin B12

If your reason for taking a vitamin B12 supplement is for the hair benefits, you can’t go wrong with Life Extension’s Folate & Vitamin B12. The most common reasons for hair graying and hair loss are deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folate.

If you’re taking both a vitamin B12 supplement and a folate supplement separately, this supplement by Life Extension lets you cut that down to just one.

This product contains 400 mcg of folate (a 100% daily value) and 300 mcg of vitamin B12. They’re in the form of l-5-methyltetrahydrofolate and methylcobalamin, which are the most bioavailable and most easily absorbed forms.

This product comes with 90 vegetarian capsules, a three month supply.

Pros:

  • Active ingredients are the most relevant to treating hair loss and graying/whitening hair
  • Supplement contains the most bioavailable forms of active ingredients
  • Vegetarian capsules
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • Some consumers may not want the added folate

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3. Nature Made Vitamin B12 500 mcg

Image of Nature Made Vitamin B12 500 mcg

Nature Made’s 500 mcg Vitamin B12 is a relatively straightforward vitamin B12 supplement: it has 500 mcg of vitamin B12, which is plenty to serve most people’s needs. It’s actually on the low end of dosage size for vitamin B12 compared to other products on the market, but there just isn’t a ton of scientific evidence indicating that very large doses are more effective. Aside from that, this supplement also contains 79 mg of calcium, 8% of the daily recommended intake.

It’s unclear as to why Nature Made chose to include the calcium, as they don’t provide an explanation, but many people are deficient in calcium so we see it as a benefit. Vegans, in particular, are susceptible to deficiencies in both.

This product is free of artificial flavors, colors, yeast, starch, or preservatives. It contains 200 small, easy-to-swallow tablets.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t go far over the daily value compared to other B12 supplements
  • Gets additional calcium in your diet
  • No unnecessary additives
  • Comes in small tablets that are easy to swallow

Cons:

  • Some may not like how the pills start to dissolve before you swallow them
  • Some report that the pills don’t sit well in their stomach

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4. Best High Dose Vitamin B12 Supplement: Jarrow Formulas Methylcobalamin (Methyl B12)

Image of a bottle of Jarrow Formulas Methyl B-12 Supplement

At first, we were a little hesitant to include any very high dose vitamin B12 supplements in our list.

However, we noticed a very high consumer satisfaction with this product and others like it. Some people swear by them. So we decided to investigate.

Jarrow Formulas Methylcobalamin (Methyl B12) contains a high dose of vitamin B12, 5000 mcg. As a departure from the standard pill form that you’ll usually find vitamin B12 supplements in, this supplement comes in the form of a lozenge, which you can get in three different flavors: lemon, cherry, and tropical.

One of the main features of this product is that the vitamin B12 comes in the most bioavailable vitamin B12 form, methylcobalamin. This means that more can be absorbed into the body and put to use compared to other forms of the vitamin.

In our testing, this product was maybe slightly more effective than smaller doses of vitamin B12, but within the margin of error and was not a significant difference. However, vast numbers of consumers say that they’ve seen better results with the larger dose vitamin B12 supplements, so that can’t be ignored.

Pros:

  • Uses methylcobalamin B12 rather than other, less effective forms
  • High doses appear to provide a more potent effect in certain individuals
  • Comes in a tasty lozenge form, which is a plus for anyone who has trouble swallowing or digesting pills

Cons:

  • The B12 past a certain amount may not provide additional health benefits in some
  • Some report that it caused them to break out
  • May cause headaches/vertigo

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5. Best Value: GNC Vitamin B-12 500 Mcg

Image of a bottle of GNC Vitamin B-12

If you’re on a budget, you really can’t go wrong with GNC’s 500 mcg Vitamin B12. This is by far the most affordable option on our list.

The product contains 500 mcg of vitamin B12, in cyanocobalamin form. Cyanocobalamin is most likely not the best chemical form of vitamin B12 because research indicates that it’s less bioavailable than methylcobalamin, but it’s not a very large difference.

A serving size is one pill and a bottle contains 100 vegetarian tablets.

It does not contain artificial colors, wheat, sodium, gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, or preservatives. However, it does contain some ingredients that we find unnecessary and are unsure as to why they were included.

The ingredients in this product that we would have liked to have seen left out include dextrose (is a form of sugar, probably used for flavor/to make the user feel an energy rush and attribute it to the B12) and dicalcium phosphate (is an ingredient binder). It also contains whole brown rice powder.

Pros:

  • Very cheap
  • Contains plenty of vitamin B12

Cons:

  • Vitamin B12 is in the form of cyanocobalamin rather than methylcobalamin
  • Contains some fillers and binders

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Conclusion

What we do here at USA Consumer Report is to try and determine the most effective health products on the market. We’re partial to supplements that contain the simplest, purest ingredients without any unnecessary additives.

That’s why we chose Pure Encapsulations Methylcobalamin B12 as the best vitamin B12 supplement. It has a no-nonsense formula that provides a healthy dose of vitamin B12, comes in a vegetarian capsule, and doesn’t contain any unnecessary additional ingredients.

That’s our number one pick, but if you have a certain reason for wanting/needing to take a vitamin B12 supplement or are price-sensitive, each of these supplements have their merits and they’re all high quality.

Do you have any personal experience with any of these vitamin B12 supplements? Share your experience with us in the comments.

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