Vitamin B12 in Low Doses
A low dose of vitamin B12 can be a useful tool in providing B12, but will often fail to cover the body’s daily requirement alone.
Additional Dose for Healthy People
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung suggests the daily requirement of vitamin B12 for healthy people to be 3 µg.1 However, new scientific studies disagree with this and suggest an RDA of around 4 – 7 µg, spread across multiple doses during a day.2 The international Vegan Society suggests a higher quantity still for vegans, namely at least 10 µg per day.3
From our standpoint, these dosages should however be seen as the minimum for oral supplements, which are ideal for preventing a vitamin B12 deficiency in healthy people when taken daily.
It is worth noting that even mild health impairments can mean that this B12 dosage is no longer enough to cover the body’s daily need – let alone enough to sufficiently fill up the body’s B12 store. In these cases, a medium dosage (100-250 µg) or increased dosage (300-500 µg) represent a better choice, as they will cover the body’s daily requirement in almost all cases.
Lower Doses do not Always Cover the Body’s Daily Requirement
Many vitamin experts remain doubtful as to whether a lower dosage of vitamin B12 is really enough for the average person. It has been proven, for example, that older people require an initial 300 µg for considerable improvements in value and really require 600 µg in order to achieve a complete normalization.4 These cases are of course at the other end of the spectrum, but nonetheless provide insight into how much the daily requirement can vary. So when is a minimal dose really enough?
Low Dosage Profile
Oral supplements with a low dosage level can suffice for those who have:
- very good health (in particular regarding the stomach and intestines, low chance of infection etc.)
- very healthy lifestyle (good diet, non-smoking, no alcohol etc.)
- low stress levels (no body related stress such as serious sport / physical activity or illness, no emotional stress or spiritual crises, balanced work life, regular sleeping pattern)
- additional intake of vitamin B12 through the diet
People who do not fit into the category listed above should consider opting for a dose of 250 – 500 µg. Those suffering from a chronic disease or those who require vitamin B12 for therapeutic purposes a recommended to opt for a much higher dosage of 1000 – 2000 µg.
This information is regarding oral supplements – recommendations regarding dosages of vitamin B12 injections are provided in a separate article.
1 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung, Österreichische Gesellschaft für Ernährung, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Ernährungsforschung, Schweizerische Vereinigung für Ernährung (Hrsg.) „Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr“ 1. Auflage, 5., korrigierter Nachdruck, DGE, Bonn 2013 http://www.dge.de/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=3&page=7
2 Mustafa Vakur Bor, Kristina M von Castel-Roberts, Gail PA Kauwell, Sally P Stabler, Robert H Allen, David R Maneval, Lynn B Bailey Ebba Nexo „Daily intake of 4 to 7 µg dietary vitamin B-12 is associated with steady concentrations of vitamin B-12–related biomarkers in a healthy young population“ Am J Clin Nutr 2010 91: 3 571-577; First published online January 13, 2010. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28082.
4 Eussen SM, de Groot LM, Clarke R, et al. Oral Cyanocobalamin Supplementation in Older People With Vitamin B12 Deficiency: A Dose-Finding Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(10):1167-1172. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.10.1167.