Vitamin B12

The role of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as ‘cobalamin’, is a water soluble vitamin that plays many important roles in the body. Responsible for forming red blood cells, nerves and DNA, B12 is essential to proper neurological function and overall health. [1] In the short term, symptoms of B12 deficiency range from fatigue to tingling, numbness, blurred vision, poor memory and confusion. If left untreated, a B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia, heart disease, infertility or nervous system damage. [2,3]  

How much Vitamin B12 do we need?

Because our body cannot make Vitamin B12, it must be sourced either from food or supplements. The Australian Nutrient Reference Values indicate that the recommended daily intake for vitamin B12 vary depending on age, gender and life stage - but the general recommendation for both male and female adults is to source 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 each day.[4] It’s worth noting that because of the body’s limited ability to absorb Vitamin B12 from dietary supplements, dosages of 250mcg are recommended if supplementing daily. [5] 

Given its low potential for toxicity and lack of evidence of adverse effects associated with excess vitamin B12, no upper limit has been set. [6]

Vitamin B12 in a plant-focussed diet

While there are some plant-based sources of Vitamin B12, such as certain algae, mushrooms and plants contaminated by soil or insects, vitamin b12 is more reliably sourced from animal foods. For these reasons, supplementing vitamin B12 is non-negotiable for those following a plant-based diet, as it’s critical for the normal functioning of our body and cannot be adequately sourced by eating plants.  

Getting enough Vitamin B12 living a plant focussed lifestyle

Individuals consuming a plant-based diet can safely incorporate vitamin b12 into their lifestyle by consuming a supplement or fortified foods, such as nutritional yeast and certain plant milks. While both methods could allow for an adequate intake, because of the dangerous effects of b12 deficiency, supplements in the form of pill, spray or injections are currently the most reliable sources of b12 and are thus the most preferred. 

In dietary supplements, vitamin B12 is usually present as cyanocobalamin, a form that the body readily converts to the active forms methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin.[7] More recently, supplements containing methylcobalamin, the active form of B12, have been gaining traction, based on the theory that this active form could be more easily absorbed by the body. When it comes to which form of Vitamin B12 is most effective, there are two schools of thoughts. On one hand, some argue that while cyanocobalamin can be converted to both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, methylcobalamin supplements don’t increase levels of adenosylcobalamin and are thus less effective overall. However, this theory has been challenged by research which has concluded that both cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin may be equally as effective at preventing or reversing a b12 deficiency.[8, 9]


Ultimately, while both sources of B12 are extremely similar, to date Cyanocobalamin is the most well-studied and researched Vitamin B12 supplement regarding absorption, stability and ability to prevent and reverse deficiency and is thus the clinically preferred version. [10,11,12] , Furthermore, Cyanocobalamin is considered more stable.[13] Given the grave consequences that could arise from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, until rigorous and well-designed controlled clinical trial comparing the various forms of Vitamin B12 are carried out, it is best to stick to Cyanocobalamin - which has been proven to prevent and reverse a B12 deficiency. [14] For these reasons, we have chosen to formulate our Essential 3 with Cyanocobalamin.

Learn more about the other ingredients we use.