Why B12 is great, but is not doing what you think it should

I will start off by saying that B12 is a fantastic vitamin. B12 is also known as hydroxycobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and methylcobalamin.  It is absorbed primarily through our gastrointestinal tract when we eat the following foods:

  • lean red meats
  • poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • fish
  • dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • yeast
  • cereals that are B12-fortified (added)

Frequently in practice when I have the pleasure of meeting someone for the first time, they are taking a multitude of supplements that they have purchased on their own. Hearing or reading about one or two great things about a particular nutrient or vitamin, B12 is one of the vitamins that many people choose to take. Unfortunately, in a majority of people, they do not see a change in their symptoms after taking B12, and complain about the lack of efficacy of B12.  B12 gets a bad rap.

B12 is only useful when taken in the appropriate context.


Patients self-administering B12 are frequently choosing B12 because of its known ability to induce fatigue in its absence. B12-deficiency can to contribute to lowered energy as well as a condition called pernicious anemia, which is essentially a deficiency of red blood cells that grow very large in size to compensate for the fact that they don’t have B12 within them.

Individuals suffering with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can become B12-deficient very easily as the immune system attacks cells in the stomach called parietal cells if they see any molecules of wheat gluten.  The parietal cells are then prevented from doing the important job of making B12.

To be frank, the absence of B12 in the body is missed.  The body cannot function easily without it.

When replenished in deficient individuals, it is best absorbed either sublingually (under the tongue) or through an injection into the muscle (called an intramuscular injection), generally the deltoid or the gluteus maximus (I will let you look that up!).

When used appropriately, it can be helpful for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, pernicious anemia, and loss of sensation in the lower and upper limbs via nerve damage induced by B12 deficiency.


You have been feeling tired.  You have 2 children, but it feels like 10.  You haven’t slept normally months. You have had your blood taken, and your B12 levels are normal.

So, what if B12 is not the reason you are feeling tired?

What are the most common causes of fatigue?

  1. A lack of sleep, or poor quality of sleep
  2. High stress which….
  3. May lead to adrenal gland insufficiency or exhaustion

In a coming blog, I’ll talk all about the adrenal gland, and how for such small organs (there are two adrenal glands) they are a fairly important reason for the feeling of fatigue. There are numerous supports for the adrenal gland (including a calm and restful summer) that can give you that energy support you need.

In the meantime, let’s give B12 a break and give it the attention and kudos it deserves for keeping so many of our body functions going on a daily basis.

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