Does Vitamin B12 Give You Energy? Not Like You Think it Does

Vitamin B12 plays a role in turning food into energy, so it’s only natural that you would ask a question – does vitamin B12 give you energy? After all, some pre-workouts often include this vitamin in their ingredient lists.

The answer, however, is not as simple as one might think.

Thankfully, we’re here to delve into this topic and provide some clarity. So, let’s do it.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an integral role in several bodily functions, including red blood cell formation, nerve function, and the production of DNA.

It’s also involved in helping to convert food into energy, just like the rest of B vitamins, which is the reason why it’s often been associated with providing an extra boost of energy.

How Does Vitamin B12 Affect the Body?

Vitamin B12 affects the body in several different ways, including, but not limited to, creating energy out of food, red blood cell formation, and DNA production.

When it comes to energy production, vitamin B12 helps to convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is then used by the body as fuel. To be fair, this is a gross oversimplification of the process, but there’s hardly any need for us to dissect metabolic processes in order for you to get a good idea of what this vitamin does and does not.

When it comes to RBC formation, on the other hand, when the body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12, it can’t make enough red blood cells. Or it makes abnormally large RBCs. Either way, not good.

A lack of RBCs could lead to anemia, and the overly large RBCs would simply not function as they are supposed to.

Additionally, B12 deficiency can also disrupt the production of new DNA. [1]

Benefits of Vitamin B12

The benefits of vitamin B12 are numerous, with some of them being:

  • Preventing pregnancy issues and birth defects

Vitamin B12 is important for a healthy pregnancy because it helps the fetus’s brain and nervous system develop properly. If a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough B12, it can increase the risk of birth defects or miscarriage up to five times. [2]

  • Promotes bone health

Weak bones can become fragile and break easily, which can increase the risk of a disease called osteoporosis. Thankfully, studies suggest that optimal levels of vitamin B12 could lower the risk of developing this condition.

  • Regulates mood and alleviates symptoms of depression

Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in serotonin synthesis. Riding on this notion, it is believed that B12 deficiency could lead to depression and that the optimal levels of vitamin B12 could lead to optimal levels of serotonin, which could, in turn, make you less susceptible to depression.

Other than those, vitamin B12 has also been linked with healthier skin, hair, and nails, which is why you’d often find it as an ingredient in skincare products.

Does Vitamin B12 Give You Energy?

Vitamin B12 does not give you energy in the same way some stimulants do. So, it’s not an energy-boosting supplement.

However, vitamin B12 does help the body convert food into energy, which can then be used as fuel to maintain regular bodily functions, including lifting heavy weights in the gym.

Is B12 Better Than Caffeine?

You cannot compare the two because they are completely different things.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about the energy-boosting properties, which we are, then no – vitamin B12 is not better than caffeine.

While many consider vitamin B12 to be a viable alternative to caffeine, we wouldn’t agree. Not even in the slightest.

Your body stores vitamin B12 in such doses (1-5 mg) that it would take years for you to deplete them. [3] However, you can’t just tap into those reserves for a quick “pick me up”, can you? You already have the vitamin in your system, and you’re not buzzing. So, adding more vitamin B12 on top of those reserves won’t do anything in terms of energy-boosting.

On the other hand, caffeine is a very effective stimulant that can give you a quick boost in energy that will last for several hours.

So, no, vitamin B12 is definitely not better in this case.

Can I Drink Coffee After Taking B12?

You can drink coffee after taking B12.

There have been no reports, nor are there signs that show that these two don’t go well together.

How Much Vitamin B12 Should You Take?

A recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults – both men and women.

However, it seems as though the upper limit could go as high as 5 mg without any observable side effects. So, over 2,500 times more than the RDA.

That said, the long-term safety of taking that much B12 is still unknown.

Should I Take B12 in the Morning or at Night?

You should take your vitamin B12 (and all other vitamins and supplements, for that matter) in the morning – with food or after a meal. Or at least that’s what’s generally been recommended.

However, seeing how B12 is stored in the body, unlike other B vitamins, you should be able to take it at any time and still reap the benefits.

How Long Does it Take for B12 to Work?

If you’re taking B12 supplements due to a deficiency, you can expect to feel the effects after a few weeks. If administered intramuscularly (injected), the effects are experienced within the first 24 hours.

On the other hand, if you’re completely healthy and your vitamin B12 levels are normal, then it’s safe to say you won’t experience any observable differences in any aspect.

Should You Take Vitamin B12 Supplements for Energy?

You should not take vitamin B12 supplements for energy.

While vitamin B12 does help convert food into energy, it doesn’t work in the same way as caffeine or other stimulants.

So, if this is the reason you want to hop on the B12 train – don’t. It’s a waste of money.

Real Foods that Contain B12

Vitamin B12 is arguably the easiest of the B vitamins to find in real food.

Some of the best sources are:

  • Organ meats (liver and kidneys)
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Eggs

As you can see, B12 is generally not present in plant foods, so it’s especially important for vegans and vegetarians to pay attention to their B12 levels.

Natural Ways to Boost Energy Levels

There are numerous (and inarguably better) natural ways to boost energy levels without relying on B12 (or other) supplements.

The most effective ones are:

  • Sleep – Sleep is the most often overlooked yet most essential energy, health, and mood-boosting factor out there. Make sure you’re getting 7-9 hours (the more, the merrier) of quality sleep every night.  You’ll marvel at the results.
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity will boost your energy levels. So, when you feel like you can’t work out – just start. You’ll get there.
  • Healthy, balanced diet – Getting enough proteins, carbs, and fats will ensure your body gets the energy it needs.
  • Stay hydrated – Not drinking enough water will definitely leave you feeling more tired than usual. Drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water every day.
  • Reduce stress – Stress can take a toll on our energy levels, so try to take it easy and relax. Meditation and yoga can do wonders. And if you’re not the zen type – try a punching bag.
  • Cold showers –  Cold showers are great for jump-starting your day with a burst of energy. [4] They suck, but they seem to get the job done if anecdotes are anything to go by.
  • Take a break – Taking regular breaks is essential for recharging your body and mind. Just get up, walk around, stretch every once in a while, and allow your body to rest. You’ll be up and running in no time.


So, will vitamin B12 give you energy? Not really, no.

However, this vitamin is beyond essential for the proper functioning of the human body, so if you’re experiencing symptoms of a deficiency or have been diagnosed with one, or you want to make sure you hit your daily B vitamin goals – supplementing is definitely recommended.

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