Is B-12 Good for Colds?

Pasta and salmon salad
Fight off a cold eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods, not just those rich in vitamin B-12. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you're trying to prevent or fight off a cold, vitamin B-12 may not offer much help. A cold is caused by a virus and is usually treated with rest and fluids, along with medication to manage symptoms. While vitamin B-12 is promoted as an energy booster, which you may feel the need for when you're suffering from a cold, there's no evidence to support the energy-boosting claims, Dr. David Heber, director of UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition, told Los Angeles Magazine in 2013.

About Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 -- part of the B-complex of vitamins -- is water-soluble. You need vitamin B-12 to make red blood cells and DNA. It's also an important component of your nervous system. Most people in the United States adequately meet their vitamin B-12 needs, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. But this B-vitamin is primarily found in animal foods, such as meat and dairy, and vegans may have a difficult time meeting their needs. Additionally, some people have a difficult time absorbing vitamin B-12, including the elderly and those with pernicious anemia -- an uncommon condition characterized by the lack of intrinsic factor, which you need to absorb the vitamin -- and may require supplementation.

Getting More B-12

Vitamin B-12 is not only linked to energy levels but also to heart health, cognition and dementia. As with its effects on your energy, however, there is no evidence to support claims that vitamin B-12 supplementation improves heart health or cognition, or prevents or delays dementia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, but more research is recommended. Additionally, ODS does not mention a link between the common cold and vitamin B-12 or immune health. Unless you're deficient in vitamin B-12, taking additional supplements may not offer any benefits.

Managing Your Cold

A cold usually lasts for a few days, according to MedlinePlus, and taking steps to manage your symptoms can help ease your discomfort. Most importantly, you should drink plenty of fluids and get rest. You can also take over-the-counter medication to help treat your pain and congestion. Common alternative treatments for a cold include vitamin C, zinc and echinacea. Talk to your doctor about the effectiveness of these treatments before adding them to your regimen.

Boosting Immune Health

Taking steps to boost your immunity may help prevent you from getting sick in the first place. A healthy and balanced diet, which includes food sources of vitamin B-12, is an important part of overall immune health. In addition to making sure you get adequate sources of vitamin B-12 in your diet, you'll also want to include fruits, vegetables and grains.

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