Which form of vitamin B12 should athletes take?

Published by Ańna on

vitamin B12 for athletes
High vitamin 12 foods for athletes

Vitamin B12 for athletes

Vitamin B12 for athletes plays an important role in athletic performance. It’s a water-soluble vitamin that’s essential for red blood cell production, brain function and DNA synthesis.

Low vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and cause a variety of symptoms, but most commonly athletes report feeling fatigued. Because athletes have a much higher physiological need for vitamin B12 and other micronutrients, symptoms can be felt well before a true deficiency occurs.

We’ve said a million times and we will say it again: supplements are great in the short term if there is a need but we advocate for a whole-food approach first.

Vitamin B12 from food for athletes

That said, you can only get Vitamin B12 from animal-based foods (meat, seafood, dairy, eggs).  If you avoid or eat very little of these foods, you may need to supplement. Vitamin B12 is also widely used in various supplements and energy drinks.

Athletes often over-supplement vitamin B12

But test, don’t guess.  About 45% of Athlete Blood Test athletes taking a multivitamin with B12 have higher than optimal levels of B12.  High levels of B12 can show up as anxiety, elevated heart rate, and fatigue. 

If athletes need to supplement, which form is best?

When you look for a Vitamin B12 supplement you will see four different forms with crazy long confusing names.  Don’t panic: existing evidence suggests that there isn’t a big difference among forms in terms of bioavailability or absorption.  

We generally recommend methylcobalamin because it doesn’t need any “converting” and can cross the blood-brain barrier immediately.  It does have the shortest shelf life, though, so you likely will pay more for it.  

One more tip:  ascorbic acid (vitamin C) acts as a reducing agent that can destroy Vitamin B12, so athletes should avoid taking Vitamin B12 with fruit juice. 

We generally recommend methylcobalamin because it doesn’t need any “converting” and can cross the blood-brain barrier immediately.

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About Dr. A’nna

Dr. A'nna Roby

Dr. A’nna strives to inspire people to optimally fuel their bodies to achieve their best. She hopes to have a positive impact on the world. The only combined Ph.D./RD specializing in sports performance nutrition in the world with all Ivy League degrees and the Chief Research Officer at AthleteBloodTest.

Dr. A’nna aims to cultivate a world of healthy athletes who understand nutrition and know how to leverage their physiology to get the best results in sports and life. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Instagram @drannaroby.

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