Shopping for a Vitamin B12 supplement can be overwhelming. There are lozenges, drops, tablets, some with 500 percent of the recommended daily intake, some with 100,000 percent. Which is ideal?

Vitamin B12 is involved with energy production and blood, brain, and nerve health, so people looking to avoid a deficiency should keep an eye on their intake. (That goes double if you don’t eat a lot of animal products.) So we’ve put together a list of the best supplements for a variety of needs — which one is right for you?

Best B12 Vitamin Supplements

Best Overall
Nature Made Vitamin B12
Nature Made Vitamin B12
Nature Made Vitamin B12

Inexpensive, third party tested, and slow digesting, Nature Made has the best Vitamin B12 supplement on the market.

Doesn't expire

Best Value
Nature's Bounty Vitamin B12
Nature's Bounty Vitamin B12
Nature's Bounty Vitamin B12

Nature's Bounty provides the best value B12 we've seen, plus it's third party tested by two organizations so you can be confident in the dose.

Doesn't expire

Best Liquid B12
Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12
Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12
Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12

A tasty, raspberry-flavored spray that's well priced, USDA-certified organic, and third party tested for label accuracy.

Doesn't expire

Most Transparent
Amazon Elements Vitamin B12
Amazon Elements Vitamin B12
Amazon Elements Vitamin B12

Amazon Elements' potent B12 supplement has a great commitment to transparency, providing the certificate of analysis for every bottle.

Doesn't expire

Best for Brain
Vital Brain Booster
Vital Brain Booster
Vital Brain Booster

This nootropic-focused supplement combines adaptogens and B-vitamins with the goal of improving mental performance.

Doesn't expire

Best Overall

Nature Made Vitamin B12

Nature Made ticks all the boxes: it’s third party tested to ensure label accuracy — a rarity for these sorts of supplements — in addition to being made in a GMP-certified facility, it’s vegetarian friendly, and it’s remarkably inexpensive. They’re also time released, so they digest slowly and release into the bloodstream over the course of the day.

Pros

  • Nature Made has made a very inexpensive product.
  • These B12 pills have been third party tested by USP for label accuracy and purity.
  • The pills digest slowly over the course of the day, so the vitamin is released into the bloodstream more slowly.

Cons

  • Some consumers report that the pills don’t taste great, so you may not want to let them sit on your tongue for too long.
Nature Made Vitamin B12
Nature Made Vitamin B12
Nature Made Vitamin B12

Inexpensive, third party tested, and slow digesting, Nature Made has the best Vitamin B12 supplement on the market.

Best Value

Nature’s Bounty Vitamin B12

Based on cost per serving, Nature’s Bounty provides the best value for your money. In addition to their low price, it’s passed third party testing by two different organizations, making this one of the most rigorously tested B12 supplements we found.

Pros

  • This is the best value B12 supplement on the market.
  • Nature’s Bounty facilities passed audits from the United States Pharmacopeia and Specialized Technology Resources.

Cons

  • The pills are coated, and some users report they take longer to dissolve than many competitors.
Nature's Bounty Vitamin B12
Nature's Bounty Vitamin B12
Nature's Bounty Vitamin B12

Nature's Bounty provides the best value B12 we've seen, plus it's third party tested by two organizations so you can be confident in the dose.

Best Liquid B12

Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12

This is actually a spray, and a tasty one at that. Very reasonably priced, Garden of Life adds two milligrams of of an organic food blend — not unlike what you’ll find in green superfood powders —and it also carries some sought after certifications, like USDA organic, Non-GMO Project, Vegan.org, and third party testing for purity.

Pros

  • This comes in an easy to administer spray that’s raspberry flavored.
  • The product has been third party tested to ensure label accuracy and purity.
  • Given its certifications and its quality, this is quite reasonably priced.

Cons

  • Some consumers are wary of the fact that the product is packaged in plastic.
Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12
Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12
Garden of Life mykind Organic Whole Food B12

A tasty, raspberry-flavored spray that's well priced, USDA-certified organic, and third party tested for label accuracy.

Most Transparent

Amazon Elements Vitamin B12

Delivering 5,000 micrograms of methylcobalamin, Amazon Elements shows a serious commitment to transparency by putting a QR code on the front of each bottle. You can scan it and read the certificate of analysis for the very product you’re holding, which can bring about peace of mind for consumers skeptical about label accuracy.

Pros

  • The lozenges are naturally berry flavored and are completely sugar free.
  • Amazon Elements has a very transparent model, allowing the consumer to view the bottle’s certificate of analysis themselves.
  • It’s free from the eight major allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy.

Cons

  • Several ingredients, from the flavoring to the vitamin itself, may be sourced from China and other countries. This isn’t to say they’re poor quality, only that some consumers prefer 100% made in the USA.
Amazon Elements Vitamin B12
Amazon Elements Vitamin B12
Amazon Elements Vitamin B12

Amazon Elements' potent B12 supplement has a great commitment to transparency, providing the certificate of analysis for every bottle.

Best for Brain

Vital Brain Booster

If your goal with taking a Vitamin B12 supplement is to boost your brain health, you may be interested in Vital’s Brain Booster, which adds adaptogens like ginkgo biloba and rhodiola rosea. These compounds may help with focus, fatigue, and stress management.

Pros

  • A more robust formula than a simple B12 supplement, this adds other ingredients that are linked to improved focus.
  • The labeling is transparent and the blend isn’t proprietary; consumers can see the amount present of each ingredient.
  • Brain Booster is non-GMO and made in a certified GMP facility.

Cons

  • Since it contains a lot more than B12, this is one of the most expensive Vitamin B12 products.
  • Since the capsule is made from gelatin, this product is not vegetarian friendly.
Vital Brain Booster
Vital Brain Booster
Vital Brain Booster

This nootropic-focused supplement combines adaptogens and B-vitamins with the goal of improving mental performance.

 

supplement pills

Cyanocobalamin vs Methylcobalamin

The vitamin itself is called cobalamin, and it comes in several forms. The most common by far are cyanocobalamin, which is bound with cyanide, and methylcobalamin, which is bound to a methyl group. Occasionally you’ll find it bound to deoxyadenosine (deoxyadenosylcobalamin) or a hydroxyl group (hydroxycobalamin).

They’re both nearly identical, just with a different molecule attached to the cobalamin. The main differences are:

Cyanocobalamin: Cheaper, more shelf stable, more common, not found in nature

Methylcobalamin: Naturally occurring, slightly more expensive

The fact that cyanocobalamin isn’t “natural” shouldn’t be a deterrent, and indeed there’s evidence that as a supplement, it may absorb more effectively than methylcobalamin — but methylcobalamin may be retained more easily.(1) Research is limited, though, and studies are inconsistent: one found a difference of just 5% between the two, but more research is needed.(2)

Ultimately, there’s not enough evidence to suggest you should prefer one form over another, and studies have found both to be effective ways to take the vitamin.(3)(4)

tuna

Best Food Sources of B12

Practically speaking, you can only meet your B12 intake with meat and dairy. Eggs are a source, but with about 11 percent of the RDI in one large egg, you’d need some very large omelets to maintain your levels. Here are the most dense whole food sources, followed by the percentage of the RDI you’ll find in a 100-gram serving.

  • Beef liver: 1,000%
  • Claims: 1,600%
  • Sardines: 133%
  • Salmon: 80%
  • Tuna: 42%
  • Sirloin steak: 23%
  • Milk (1 cup): 18%
  • Chicken breast: 5%

steak and asparagus free

How Much Vitamin B12 Is Too Much?

It’s not uncommon to see B12 pills that deliver thousands and thousands of times the recommended daily intake. Is it necessary? Probably not. The real reason so many supplements are so high is that the amount we actually need is so small: you need a fraction of a milligram of the stuff and it’s very hard to measure out one day’s intake in a powdered form, so supplements wind up vastly surpassing the RDI.

There’s not much evidence that this is necessarily a bad thing, though. As a water soluble B-vitamin, the body excretes what it doesn’t need through your urine (which will probably be an almost luminescent bright yellow as a result).

It’s generally considered safe at high doses. There’s no tolerable upper limit (TUL) that has been established. There have been some studies that have seen negative effects from too much B12, such as acne and rosacea, but these effects are mostly seen in people who get injections of the vitamin, not oral supplements.(5)

milk

BarBend Tips

  • While healthy levels of Vitamin B12 are important for energy production and mental health, there’s no evidence that taking more B12 than is needed will confer extra benefits. Therefore, a supplement with 50,000 percent of the RDI isn’t necessarily a better pick than 500 percent.
  • Vegans and ovo-vegetarians are likely to run low in B12 and should be the most concerned with supplementing.
  • The body stores a certain amount of B12 in the liver, and in a sense it’s like a “backup” of your B12 stores. The Mayo Clinic notes that the body can store several years’ worth of B12 at once, so it seems there’s no need to stress if you don’t hit your RDI every single day.
  • Don’t stress about whether or not your supplement uses cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin, the most popular forms of the nutrient. There’s not enough evidence to suggest you should prefer one over the other.

Wrapping Up

The truth is that most B12 supplements deliver many times the recommended daily intake, so it’s hard to get an ineffective pill. But we’re confident that by looking at those that are third party tested, comparing the price, and taking into account the additional ingredients, we’ve landed on the best list of the best B12 products on the market.

References

  1. Okuda K, et al. Intestinal absorption and concurrent chemical changes of methylcobalamin. J Lab Clin Med. 1973 Apr;81(4):557-67.
  2. Adams JF, et al. Absorption of cyanocobalamin, coenzyme B 12 , methylcobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin at different dose levels. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1971;6(3):249-52.
  3. Takasaki Y, et al. [Effectiveness of oral vitamin B12 therapy for pernicious anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency anemia]. Rinsho Ketsueki. 2002 Mar;43(3):165-9.
  4. Andrès E, et al. Effects of oral crystalline cyanocobalamin 1000 μg/d in the treatment of pernicious anemia: An open-label, prospective study in Ten Patients. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2005 Jan;66(1):13-22.
  5. Brescoll J, et al. A review of vitamin B12 in dermatology. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2015 Feb;16(1):27-33.