Vitamin B12 is unquestionably one of the most widely-consumed nutritional supplements in the world.
This is despite the fact that B12 is a near ubiquitous nutrient – it is found in all animal-derived foods, and you get plenty from plants that have not been excessively washed (B12 contains cobalt, which is only produced by certain bacteria and single-celled organisms found in soil). Most cereals, breads, milks, and other foods are now fortified with B12.
In other words, if you live in the developed world (and much of the developing world), you are almost certainly not deficient in B12.
That said, not everybody gets optimal amounts of B12 per day.
Vegetarians and vegans usually have less than ideal intakes of B12.
For most people, this isn’t a major problem – it takes a long time for the body to exhaust its B12 stores, and even then, the effects do not become pronounced for some time. You lose about 0.1% of your B12 stores per day (it is secreted into bile and lost through defecation).
But when the effects of a low B12 intake do become apparent, they are quite striking. B12 is a vital nutrient after all – without it, your body cannot function.
The effects of a mild B12 deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of concentration
- Impaired cognition
If a B12 deficiency is not fixed in good time, it will become more serious, leading to more serious health consequences:
- Inhibition of DNA synthesis
- Chronic IBS
- Loss of balance
- Loss of reflexes
Of these effects though, B12 deficiency is most associated with low energy levels. That’s because the first effect of low B12 levels that people tend to notice is fatigue.
B12 and fatigue
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient. It is needed for numerous bodily functions, as you will gather from the deficiency symptoms listed above.
However, most people know B12 as an energy booster.
There’s good reason for this – even moderately low levels of B12 will result in lower energy levels.
Conversely, upping your intake of B12 will almost immediately result in an increase in energy levels.
This is because B12 is intimately involved in the process of energy synthesis in the human body. B12 is a co-factor in the body; many reactions are dependent upon cobalamin. Without it, these reactions cease. Many of these cobalamin-dependent reactions are related to the release of energy within your cells.
Does B12 give you more energy?
The short answer to this question is yes – consuming a B12 supplement can decrease fatigue and promote higher energy levels.
However, this does ultimately depend on your current levels of B12. Evidence has shown that B12 supplements reduce fatigue in people with deficiencies, but not in people with adequate levels of B12 in the first place.
So B12 can increase energy in people with sub-optimal levels, but it cannot raise energy levels in people who already have plenty of B12 already.
Learn more about the best energy supplements.