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 B12B12 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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