Can You Take B12 While on the Keto Diet?

  • Date: April 26, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet plan. This type of diet has become very popular over the last few years because of its ability to help people lose weight and improve their overall health. Many people who follow this diet also experience improvements in their mental clarity and mood. B12 is a vitamin that helps our bodies produce energy from carbohydrates. If you are taking B12 supplements or using a multivitamin, you should continue to do so even while on the keto plan.

Vitamin B12 is important for the proper and healthy functioning of the body. It also helps in maintaining blood cells and DNA.

Since B12 is mainly sourced from animal products, it’s unlikely that anyone following a keto diet would be lacking this nutrient. But still, it’s important to regularly check for this nutrient in the body.  

This post answers whether you can take B12 while on the keto diet or not. So, stay tuned! 

Why May You Need Supplements when Eating a Keto Diet?

If you’re new to keto and want a bit more information, check out our keto beginners guide.

As a quick summary, if you need it, the keto (also known as the ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF).

The whole concept of the keto diet is that your body transitions from burning glucose, in simple terms, sugars or carbohydrates, to burning fat as its primary fuel source.

For a keto diet, people will restrict their macros to eating;

  • 70% of their calories are from fat
  • 25% from protein
  • 5% from carbohydrates

Sticking to these macros for a period of time will put your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body has transitioned from burning carbohydrates as its primary fuel source to burning fat for fuel. It is at this point that you will start to see and feel the benefits of the keto diet.

It is the role of the liver to convert amino acids into small amounts of glucose. This process is called glucogenesis. This is when ketone bodies (ketones) are created.

Eventually, your body will become what is known as ‘fat adapted‘. In simple terms, this means that your body is accustomed to burning fat as its primary fuel source and it will function this way as its default setting.

There are a lot of new terms and abbreviations that you may come across, sometimes it can feel like a new language that you need to learn. In order to help you out and keep you on the right track, we have created a keto terms and keto abbreviations guide, bookmark these to make your keto journey easier.

Some people can be put off the keto diet because of the side effects, however, these are only short-lived and the health benefits of keto far outweigh the side effects.

There is no doubt that the process of getting into ketosis and remaining there is a massive change to the way your body is used to functioning.

Supplements may be able to assist your body with this transition and speed up your journey to your health and keto goals.

Vitamin B12 and Keto

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in nerve function and the formation of red blood cells.

You may have heard about B12 being associated with depression and anxiety. However, recent research shows that low levels of B12 are linked to ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and schizophrenia.

Foods high in B12 include;

  • fish
  • eggs
  • milk
  • cheese
  • meat
  • poultry
  • yogurt 
  • dairy products

Luckily all of these foods are keto-approved foods, which is good news.

As the body can absorb the B12 vitamin from a number of food sources. That means its deficiency is not something that you should worry about

Why Do We Need Vitamin B12 on Keto?

Vitamin B12 is important for healthy red blood cells, nerve function, and DNA synthesis.   The body cannot produce vitamin B12, so we must obtain it from food sources such as the list above.

Vitamin B12 is known to increase the body’s absorption of ketones. Therefore, a person on keto needs to have maintained B12 levels in their body. 

If your body has B12 vitamin in balance, it can easily metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

After metabolizing, the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins provide energy, which helps the body to function properly. Also, this vitamin can battle the effects of stress. 

How Much Vitamin B12 Should I Be Getting on Keto?

No matter if you are following a keto diet or not, your body must have a proper level of vitamin B12. On average, a person’s body on a keto diet requires 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day

Without consuming this much amount of vitamin B12 in a day, the body might not be able to make red blood cells, DNA, nerves, or perform other functions. 

B12 deficiency can be caused due to low stomach acid, a vegan diet, age, as well as other factors. 

Symptoms of Too Little Vitamin B12 on a Keto Diet [Can the Keto Diet Cause a B12 Deficiency?]

B12 vitamin deficiency is not something that a person on a keto diet should be worried about as the keto diet focuses on reducing carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are not foods that are known to contain high levels of B12.

But a poorly planned keto diet, like any diet, can lead to a deficiency of B12.

Common symptoms of low vitamin B12 include;

  • tingling on hands and legs
  • sensitive nerves (neuropathy)
  • numbness
  • shortness of breath
  • anemia
  • disturbed vision
  • swollen tongue
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • issues with balance
  • tinnitus
  • heart palpitations
  • yellow eyes
  • pale skin

Besides this, one might also notice, mood swings, loss of taste, and lack of energy. 

Symptoms of Too Much Vitamin B12 on a Keto Diet

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin responsible for keeping proper body functioning. But many don’t realize that consuming more than the recommended amount of B12 can lead to health complications.

A person can definitely have more vitamin B12 in the body.

This situation is called hypercobalaminemia.

When a person consumes an extensive amount of B12 rich food, the B12 level in the body can increase.

A person with a higher B12 level in the body can experience diarrhea, weakness, headache, vomiting, fatigue, nausea, and more

Adults need about 1.5 micrograms a day of vitamin B12.

To put this into perspective, a large egg contains around 1.1 micrograms of vitamin B12, and a 100 grams of liver contains 18.7 micrograms of vitamin B12, well over your daily requirement.

As you can see, it is easy to get sufficient B12 into a normal keto diet. It is only those that are eating a vegan keto diet who may struggle, due to meat, dairy, and eggs being the primary source.

Keto Foods that Contain Vitamin B12

If you are wondering how to get vitamin B12 on keto we’ve drawn up a more specific food list for you.

One of the easiest ways to increase the B12 level in the body is by consuming vitamin B12 rich food items.

But virtually, there are none in the plants. That means you need to depend on animal products. 

Here is our list of keto foods rich in Vitamin B12:

  • Seafood like oysters, mussels, crab, lobster, octopus, and clams
  • Fish like tuna, cod, salmon, sadness, mackerel
  • Beef 
  • Lamb
  • Cheese 
  • Eggs 
  • Yogurt 

Overall, the keto diet does not result in a deficiency of vitamin B12. But it can decrease the amount of folate and fiber in the body.

If you, experience B12 deficiency during the keto diet, it’s suggested to increase the consumption of B12 rich food items, and if this continues, seek advice from your doctor. It may be that you need a B12 injection or supplement in order to boost the amount of B12 in your diet.

Can a person with vitamin B12 deficiency follow keto diet?

If you’re concerned about needing to supplement for any reason, then you should seek the advice of a dietitian before starting keto. Each person’s situation is different, so there may be different needs for different people.

However, if you are already receiving a B12 injection or supplement, there is no reason that you cannot eat a keto diet.

For more on B vitamins and the keto diet, check out our article on vitamin B.

Or, check out this article for more on vitamins and supplements on the keto diet – learn which ones you need and which you do not.

In summary, if you are already taking a B12 supplement, there is no reason that you cannot try the keto diet. The diet in itself is rich in B12 foods, the only persons that may struggle are those that are eating a vegan diet.




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