Athletes should get at least the minimum recommended daily intake of 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 for optimum athletic performance. But, athletes of bodybuilding may benefit from much higher doses of 1,000 mcg from supplements! Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin B12 may relieve pain, and increase muscle growth and strength.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is bad for muscle growth
Athletes in bodybuilding should be very cautious with vitamin B12 intakes. They have to maintain normal vitamin B12 levels for muscle growth and recovery.
Firstly, vitamin B12 deficiency may cause muscle pain. In fact, vitamin B12 has been used to treat pain for years. In some countries, vitamin B12 is still used as an analgesic drug. It has neuroprotective and analgesic properties. Indeed, vitamin B12 may reduce or eliminate pain. Especially if it’s combined with other drugs.[1,2]
Moreover, vitamin B12 deficiency may cause fatigue, muscle weakness, or muscle cramps. According to a 2019 study, people with vitamin B12 deficiency improved the symptoms of muscle weakness and muscle cramps after 6 months of treatment with vitamin B12 supplements.
Also, vitamin B12 is required for the synthesis of red blood cells and proper neurological function. Red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs and the working muscles. In addition, they deliver the produced CO2 to the lungs for expiration. This process is vital for better athletic performance and quicker recovery after strenuous exercise.
Hence, it’s also vital for endurance athletes to have healthy levels of vitamin B12.
Furthermore, vitamin B12 deficiency results in severe oxidative stress. Oxidative stress may be bad for muscle recovery. It’s important to fully recover after resistance exercise. Working out for muscle hypertrophy produces high amounts of free radicals, which can lead to oxidative stress.
Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, fights oxidative stress, which can be dangerous for health.
For instance, it’s particularly beneficial for athletes to get adequate amounts of many compounds, including zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, and omega-3s for muscle growth, faster recovery and better endurance performance.
How much vitamin B12 should I take for bodybuilding?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg. But, bodybuilders with low levels of vitamin B12 could consume even 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 a day for muscle hypertrophy. Actually, athletes can perform better with vitamin B12 concentrations higher than 400 pg/mL.
Maximum safe intake in cases of deficiency
So, you could take high dosages of vitamin B12 until you reach optimum vitamin B12 concentrations. You could take even higher dosages of vitamin B12 if you have vitamin B12 concentrations significantly lower than 400 pg/mL. Lower vitamin B12 concentrations may be bad for your energy levels, muscle recovery, and muscle growth.
In fact, daily doses of 1,000 mcg are as effective as intramuscular injections!
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts who take high dosages of vitamin B12 should regularly monitor their vitamin B12 concentration, though. They should maintain the range of 400–700 pg/mL.
Vitamin B12 supplementation is good for you only if you have concentrations close to 400 pg/mL or lower.
As vitamin B12 deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency, bodybuilding athletes should regularly check their vitamin B12 levels.
How much vitamin B12 for athletes with normal concentrations?
On the other hand, if you have normal concentrations of vitamin B12, you could take only 1,000 mcg one a week.
If you increase the volume of your training or feel tired, you could take even 2,000 mcg every week.
In fact, vitamin B12 supplementation is considered pretty safe. Even high vitamin B12 dosages of 1,000 mcg have almost no risk of toxicity.
But, you should always consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplement or changing your eating routine.
The best time to take vitamin B12 supplements is at breakfast.
Foods with vitamin B12 for athletes
On the other hand, plant-based foods contain negligible amounts of vitamin B12. Only fortified plant-based foods can help us meet our daily needs.
In addition, a cheap way to maintain normal vitamin B12 levels is by taking vitamin supplements. You can find a wide variety on iHerb.
Do vitamin B12 injections build muscle mass?
Intramuscular injections are effective for treating severe vitamin B12 deficiency. It’s a common practice for athletes.
Athletes shouldn’t be injected with vitamin B12 without the advice of their physician, though. Intramuscular injections may result in vitamin B12 concentrations of over 1,000 pg/mL within a week, or 3,000 pg/mL in just 4 weeks!
Hence, injections of vitamin B12 in athletes should only be applied in acute cases of vitamin B12 deficiency. Otherwise, injections can cause unnecessary, extremely high vitamin B12 concentrations.
Certainly, vitamin B12 injections don’t have a beneficial effect on muscle growth if an athlete has normal levels of vitamin B12.