Tired woman with hand on face wondering about vitamin B12 and energy

Does vitamin B12 give you energy?

Medically reviewed on May 17, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Vitamin B12 is one of eight B vitamins that are essential for keeping the body healthy and functioning properly [1]. Each B vitamin delivers distinct benefits, from promoting immune system function to reducing the risk of birth defects.

One benefit that’s often attributed to vitamin B12 is improved energy levels. But is this true? Does vitamin B12 give you energy?

Uncovering this will require us to take a closer look at the relationship between B12 and how our bodies make and use energy. So keep reading if you want to find out how vitamin B12 supplement intake relates to energy levels. (And learn more about Everlywell B12 vitamin supplements if you're looking to boost your intake.)

The link between vitamin B12 and energy levels

The answer to whether vitamin B12 gives you energy is a bit more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” There are definite links between how the body produces energy and its levels of vitamin B12, as well as other B vitamins. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that upping your vitamin B12 supplement intake is going to keep your body energized.

The fact is, our bodies draw energy from only one source: the calories we consume. In particular, the body is best at drawing energy from carbohydrate-heavy foods, like:

  • Starches
  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

These food sources are high in the simple sugar known as glucose, which the cells convert into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) [2]. ATP is a molecule that provides cells with the energy they need to power the body [3].

This is where vitamin B12 comes in. Vitamin B12 is instrumental in helping the cells of the body perform the necessary chemical reactions that enable them to metabolize the glucose molecules they need to make ATP energy.

So does vitamin B12 give you energy? While B12 doesn't directly provide energy, it does give the body the tools it needs to convert food molecules into energy. Getting the recommended daily amount of B12 can therefore help ensure that the body is able to make the energy it needs to do everything you need it to do.

Additionally, getting the recommended daily amount can help prevent some of the symptoms associated with a B12 deficiency, like fatigue or insomnia [4].

This means if you aren’t getting enough B12, boosting your levels may help you feel more energized and avoid B12 deficiency signs.

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

Healthcare professionals recommend a daily dose of 2.4 micrograms for people between the ages of 14 and 50 [5]. Fortunately, most people in the United States have no trouble getting that amount of B12 directly from their diets.

That said, finding ways to boost B12 intake may benefit you if:

  • You’re over 50 – Many healthcare providers encourage people over the age of 50 to take vitamin B12 supplements, sometimes upping their intake to 1,000 micrograms per day. This is because older individuals often lose stomach acid as they age, making it more difficult for their bodies to absorb B12 from food.
  • You’re vegetarian or vegan – Since B12 is found in many animal products—such as eggs, red meat, poultry, and fish—individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet might need to supplement their low vitamin levels with vitamin B12 supplements.

How to boost B12 levels

Vitamin B12 is present in several common foods, which can make it easy for you to boost your B12 intake naturally. These foods include:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese

Eating a healthy diet that incorporates vitamin B12-rich foods is often the best way to get the vitamin B12 your body needs.

That said, a B12 supplement might be in order if your diet alone can’t provide you with enough B12. Since every individual is different, it’s best to discuss your unique B12 needs with a healthcare provider to help you ensure you’re maintaining adequate intake and levels.

In addition to increased energy levels, a B12 supplement may also provide health benefits, like:

  • Increased red blood cells – Vitamin B12 helps the body grow new red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscle tissue in every part of the body.
  • Improved muscle health – The oxygen delivered by your red blood cells provides the muscles with the energy they need to grow. B12 may also help alleviate any muscle weakness or cramping associated with a B12 deficiency [4].
  • Balanced mood – Some mood disturbances, like increased negativity, agitation, and irritability, have been linked to B12 deficiencies [4]. This research suggests that maintaining proper B12 levels could promote a healthier and more balanced mental state.
  • Hair Growth - Vitamin B12 benefits for hair are remarkable. Vitamin B12 helps your body produce the red blood cells it needs. Those healthy red blood cells carry oxygen everywhere it’s needed in the body, including hair follicles. Your hair follicles need this oxygen to stimulate the growth of hair.

B12 vitamin supplements from Everlywell

If you lack energy and you think your B12 intake is to blame, speak with a healthcare provider about your B12 levels. However, be aware that depleted energy can be a symptom of various other health conditions.

If your healthcare provider recommends boosting your B12 intake, try Everlywell vitamin B12 supplements for an easy option. With vegan and non-GMO tablets, each bottle contains a 30-day supply.

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Vitamin B12 recommended dosage for older adults

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1. B Vitamins. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 17, 2022.

2. How Cells Obtain Energy from Food. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed May 17, 2022.

3. Physiology, Adenosine Triphosphate. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed May 17, 2022.

4. Wolffenbuttel BHR, Wouters HJCM, Heiner-Fokkema MR, van der Klauw MM. The Many Faces of Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Deficiency. Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes. 2019;3(2):200-214. Published 2019 May 27.

5. Vitamin B12 - Health Professional Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed May 17, 2022.

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