Are you feeling tired? More easily rundown lately? Maybe it’s the heat or work stress or simply the fact that you’re getting older, but perhaps you’re deficient in essential B-vitamins. You’ve probably seen that there are more and more B-12 supplements on store shelves these days. And that’s because these micronutrients are critical for maintaining your energy level since they’re inextricably tied to our metabolic processes. Vitamin B-complex also plays a pretty big role in your brain and nervous system health. According to New York-based dietitian Amy Shapiro, Vitamin B-complex is made up of eight smaller vitamins: thiamine (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), biotin, folic acid and cobalamins (vitamin B-12).
That last one is the most important, many experts would say. Why? Because vitamin B-12 aids in everything from energy production and neurological function to testosterone production to bone and red blood cell health. It’s also been shown to improve mood and symptoms of depression, since it plays a vital role in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. Not only that, but it provides some of the coating on our nerves that help conduct nerve impulses, which ensures we have quick responses—be it at work or on the basketball or tennis court. This is why you typically find B vitamins in energy and sports drinks.
Interestingly, for such a vital nutrient, many of us aren’t getting enough of it. According to a study conducted by Tufts University, around 40% of those tested appeared to be deficient. While most of us are likely getting enough B vitamins in our diet, there is a possibility that you could be deficient in some cases. Especially if you follow a restrictive meal plan or are vegan, since B-12 is naturally found only in animal products, such as milk, cheese, eggs and meat. Shapiro warns that regular drinkers might also find themselves deficient, since alcohol has been known to deplete the body of B vitamins.
Shapiro says that symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, weakness, and slow reflexes. Of course, the easiest way to stave off any deficiency is to supplement your diet. By adding vitamin supplements to your daily routine as a backup, you’ll ensure that your B-12 stores are fully stocked. Dr. Kien Vuu, author of Thrive State: Your Blueprint for Optimal Health, Longevity, and Peak Performance, has found that adequate levels of vitamin B12 are critical for keeping your energy levels up while also maintaining healthy hair and skin, and protecting against heart disease. And while the National Institutes of Health recommends that the bare minimum daily intake is around s 2.5 mcg, you can supercharge your body by boosting your B-12 a few times a week. Here are three supplements to consider.
These fast-acting supplements are meant to be held under the tongue for 30 seconds before swallowing to help your body absorb the nutrients more efficiently. Each tablet includes 2,500 mcg of vitamin B12 and they are suitable for vegetarians.
$14 by Nature’s Bounty
If you want a simple, no-nonsense formula, these tablets from Public Goods are your answer. For an incredibly reasonable price, they offer 1,000 mcg of quality B-12 and also include 100 mg of calcium, so you cover a bit of that base, too. Just pop one pill with a glass of water and the extended release formula gets to work.
$5.95 by Public Goods
These sweet, but not too sweet lozenges are a great option. This formula utilizes a naturally occurring methylcobalamin B-12, which many experts believe is better absorbed and retained by the body. Plus, the chewable cherry lozenges pack a whopping 5,000 mcg of B-12.
$21.99 by Jarrow Formulas
* FYI: While vitamin B-12 is naturally found only in animal products, some foods today like cereal, plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast have been fortified with it.