Can Kids Take Vitamin B12?
  /   Dr. John Snow

Can Kids Take Vitamin B12?

Kids have unique nutritional needs, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if certain vitamins or supplements are even necessary for them. Unless you’re a doctor or scientist yourself, you probably don’t know all the details about Vitamin B12, the other B Vitamins, or the several other vitamins that your kid needs to promote their growth and development. You already have enough on your plate, you shouldn’t have to devote yourself to becoming an expert on all of this, too! Thankfully, we are here to help you with some guidance and advice on whether or not kids can, or should, take Vitamin B12. 

What Is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a part of the Vitamin B complex. The Vitamin B complex consists of a total of eight different essential vitamins that are all water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water and are discharged from the body via urine. The challenge relating to vitamins like B12 is that the body cannot produce them or store them for very long, so it’s important  to obtain a steady supply of Vitamin B12 on a daily basis from food sources or supplements. Vitamin B12 is one of the biggest and most complicated vitamins, but we’re here to break everything down for you so that you can then use this information to make the best decisions for your child’s health.  

Why Is Vitamin B12 Important?

Vitamin B12 does so many important things for the body that it’s really hard to explain it all in just a few sentences. So that you can truly understand how vital Vitamin B12 is for a wide variety of bodily functions, here’s a comprehensive list of benefits and functions of Vitamin B12 that have been backed by scientific studies:

  • Helps to support bone health, increasing bone density, and preventing bone diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Helps your body produce red blood cells that transport oxygen through the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. Poor red blood cell function and mobility may lead to issues like anemia.
  • Promotes eye health and may prevent macular degeneration with age. 
  • Vitamin B12’s connection with synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin means that your Vitamin B12 levels can affect your mood. Lower Vitamin B12 levels can lead to lower serotonin levels – which can contribute to mental health issues like depression.
  • Vitamin B12 is also connected with the nervous system, and can prevent brain atrophy.It also helps neurons to function properly and can aid with memory. 
  • Is important for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Healthy skin is important for a functioning immune system. Low levels of Vitamin B12 are associated with skin conditions like vitiligo and hyperpigmentation, nail discoloration, and brittle hair. 

What Are Sources of Vitamin B12?

The challenge with Vitamin B12 is that it is only naturally found in animal products, meaning that those who do not consume animal products for whatever reason might have trouble getting enough Vitamin B12 in their diet. Fortunately, Vitamin B12 is added to non-animal products like bread, breakfast cereals, and milk. Here are some of the best sources of Vitamin B12:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Fish like haddock and tuna
  • Chicken 
  • Beef
  • Ham
  • Pork
  • Lamb

What Are the Other B Vitamins?

Vitamin B12 might be the biggest vitamin of all, but it isn’t alone within the Vitamin B complex! The seven other B Vitamins are:

  • Vitamin B1 or thiamine
  • Vitamin B2 or riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3 or niacin/niacinamide
  • Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine
  • Vitamin B7 or biotin
  • Vitamin B9 or folic acid

Can Kids Take B12?

Yes – kids can take Vitamin B12, and they likely should be taking it! Vitamin B12 is perfectly safe for kids and is vital for their bones, blood, eyes, mood, hair, skin, and nails. Kids who aren’t getting enough Vitamin B12 are at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency, especially kids who have a restricted diet and cannot consume animal products containing Vitamin B12 Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause long-term problems,and it’s actually more prevalent than many researchers have previously thought. Here are some signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency to look out for:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Pins and needles sensation in arms and legs
  • Developmental and growth delays
  • Irritability 

If your child has any of these symptoms or if you have reason to believe that they may be Vitamin B12 deficient, it’s important to speak with their pediatrician right away about your concerns and potentially get a test to evaluate their levels. 

How Much Vitamin B12 Should Kids Take?

Now that we know kids can take Vitamin B12, it gets a little bit more complicated – how much should they actually take? The exact amount of Vitamin B12 that your child needs depends on their age:

  • Infants aged 6 months and younger need 0.4 mcg of B12 per day
  • Infants aged 7 to 12 months need 0.5 mcg of B12 per day
  • Toddlers aged 1 to 3 years need 0.9 mcg of B12 per day
  • Kids aged 4 to 8 years need 1.2 mcg of B12 per day
  • Kids aged 9 to 13 need 1.8 mcg of B12 per day
  • Teenagers aged 14 to 18 need 2.4 mcg of B12 per day

“Mcg” means “micrograms,” or 1/1,00,000 of one gram. Clearly we are talking about very small amounts here. You might have two questions about these small numbers: If these numbers are so small, then how important can Vitamin B12 really be for kids? What happens if a kid takes more than these very small recommended doses? To answer the first question: a little bit of Vitamin B12 really does go a long way since it’s so large and complex of a nutrient. After going over all of the benefits and functions of B12, it’s obvious how important it is to the body even in small amounts. To answer the second question: since Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, it is considered very safe even at high amounts since it won’t remain in your system for very long, the excess simply being disposed of in urine. So, even if your child did somehow get a hold of higher amounts of Vitamin B12, it’s unlikely to have a significant negative effect on their health. 

How to Find a B12 Supplement?

Now that you’ve conquered the challenge of knowing everything you need to know about Vitamin B12, it’s time for your next task – finding a beneficial Vitamin B12 supplement for your child. The good news is that we’re here to make the process a lot easier. 

We recommend going with a complete children’s multivitamin supplement. These supplements not only contain Vitamin B12, but several other vitamins and minerals that are essential for growth and development in children. 

Choosing a specific multivitamin for your child can also be a challenge. Every company out there claims to be the best, so how can you really know? The smartest thing to do is to look at the label. The best kids’ vitamins will only contain vitamins from fruits, vegetables, and other natural sources. It’s also best to avoid chemicals, fillers, sugar, and preservatives. A lot of benefits from vitamins can actually be contradicted by high amounts of sugar and synthetic materials, which are commonly found in gummy vitamins. Instead, look for a sugar-free children’s vitamin option that is naturally sweetened – like the vitamins made by Hiya. Also be sure to look for products that pediatricians believe in and support. That way, you can trust their expertise and have the peace of mind that your child is getting all of the nutritional support they need to counteract their picky eating practices. Just think of all the dinner table battles you can avoid when you trust their supplements!  

*The FDA plays a specific role in regulating nutraceuticals and for all companies requires the following disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.