What Are the Benefits of Liquid Vitamin B-12?

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Vegan diets don't provide enough vitamin B-12. (Image: monticelllo/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin B-12 is vital for normal red blood cells, metabolizing food into energy and keeping your nerves working properly. It may also help prevent cardiovascular disease. In short, you need the right amount of vitamin B-12 to stay healthy. While it’s best to get it from the foods you eat, some people can't manage to fill their daily requirement that way. That’s when liquid vitamin B-12 offers a convenient, easy-to-swallow way to boost your intake.

Benefits of Supplements

The most important benefit of taking any form of supplemental vitamin B-12 is to prevent a deficiency by filling in the gap if your diet doesn’t provide 2.4 micrograms daily. Because animal products are the primary sources of vitamin B-12, you’re at risk for a deficiency if you follow a vegan diet.

To digest vitamin B-12, you need sufficient stomach acid and a protein produced in the body -- intrinsic factor -- which allows the vitamin to be absorbed in the small intestine. As people age, their levels of intrinsic factor normally go down. As a result, adults over the age of 50 are advised to get most of their vitamin B-12 from supplements or fortified foods because supplemental B-12 doesn’t need intrinsic factor, reports the Linus Pauling Institute.

Easy to Consume

It may sound like a simple benefit, but for people who struggle to swallow tablets or capsules, liquid vitamin B-12 has the significant advantage of being easy to ingest. Liquid supplements may have more nutrients per dose, notes the State University of New York at Buffalo. The liquid form also allows you to adjust the dose without having to take multiple or larger-sized tablets.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider to see which dose of vitamin B-12 is best for your health needs. Getting the right dose, in the appropriate form, is vital if you’re deficient because lack of vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia and nerve damage. Depending on the severity of the deficiency, you may need injections or prescription supplements.

Absorbed in Mouth

Some brands of liquid vitamin B-12 come with instructions to hold the liquid under your tongue before swallowing, which allows the membranes there to absorb some of the vitamin. This type of sublingual absorption sends the vitamin directly into the bloodstream rather than through the digestive tract, much like an injection of vitamin B-12.

You can take any type of supplement -- tablets, capsules or liquid -- as long as you have intrinsic factor. When intrinsic factor is lacking, sublingual absorption is more beneficial since intrinsic factor is only needed in the intestine.

However, supplements designed to be absorbed sublingually are usually tablets that are easy to hold under the tongue long enough to maximize absorption as they dissolve. In liquid form, some of the B-12 will drain into your throat before being absorbed under your tongue.

Rate of Absorption

Even if liquid vitamin B-12 is swallowed rather than absorbed in the mouth, liquids are generally absorbed more rapidly than tablets and capsules, especially if taken without food. On the other hand, rapid absorption may not improve total absorption or long-term effectiveness.

In one study, people with low blood levels of vitamin B-12 were divided into two groups. One group received sublingual microtablets, while the other group swallowed tablets. After four weeks, participants in both groups had an equal increase in levels of B-12, reported the British Pharmacological Society in December 2003.

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