How to Use Vitamin B-12 for Bodybuilding

Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient, which means you must get it from food. Unlike other B vitamins, however, vitamin B-12 is not found in a wide variety of foods. While bodybuilders are not likely deficient in B-12, making sure you meet your needs is essential for muscle building, exercise performance and overall health. Consult your doctor if concerned about your vitamin B-12 intake.

Animal proteins are the only natural source of vitamin B-12. (Image: GYRO PHOTOGRAPHY/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Vitamin B-12 and Bodybuilding

Vitamin B-12 assists in metabolizing protein and fat. As a bodybuilder, you need the amino acids from the protein metabolism to repair and build your muscles and the fat as a source of energy. B-12 is also essential for the production of red blood cells, which are necessary for delivering oxygen to those muscles. This nutrient also supports healthy neurological function, which is needed for muscle control.

How Much You Need

Most adults in the United States do not have a difficult time meeting their daily vitamin B-12 needs, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B-12 is 2.4 micrograms a day. Your body does not store B-12, and it has a low level of toxicity. However, if you're not deficient, taking more vitamin B-12 than is recommended will not improve your energy or your workouts.

Food Sources

What sets vitamin B-12 apart from the other B vitamins is that it's only found naturally in animal products. Good sources include meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products. However, plant food products such as breakfast cereals and plant-milk alternatives such as soy milk may be fortified with the vitamin.

Risk of Deficiency

Some people have a difficult time absorbing vitamin B-12 due to a decrease in stomach acidity, which is needed to help release the vitamin from the food. This may be the case if you take antacids, and it's also a problem as you age.

Also, if you're a vegan or vegetarian bodybuilder, there's a risk that you may not be able to get enough if you're not including fortified foods in your diet.

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