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Nootropic Vitamin B12 - Boost Brain, Beat Burnout

By Patrick Dougherty

Considering Vitamin B12 as a nootropic supplement? In this article, we examine Vitamin B12's potential for supporting sharp cognition and overall brain health.

We'll explain how B12 is believed to work for the brain, share scientific evidence backing its brain benefits, and discuss why it might be one of the best supplements for burnout and stress.

We'll also delve into the various forms of Vitamin B12 you can find in foods and supplements, revealing which are the easiest to absorb.

Finally, we'll recommend some of the best supplements on the market -- nootropics, caffeine pills, pre-workouts and multivitamins -- that include Vitamin B12. Let's get to it!

Key Takeaways

  • Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient with nootropic (brain-related) benefits
  • Optimal B12 supports cognition, brain energy, memory and mental clarity
  • Maintaining good B12 levels may help with some mood and mental health concerns
  • Restoring B12 may help manage burnout and exhaustion from high stress levels
  • B12 helps form myelin, the fatty sheathing that surrounds and protects neurons
  • Many people fail to maintain healthy B12 levels, especially vegetarians and age 60+

Best Vitamin B12 form in supplements

Look for cultured Vitamin B12 as NutriGenesis®. Molecularly identical to B12 in foods, this form is easy to absorb and bioavailable. It is a clean, eco-friendly and effective B12 used in advanced supplements.

Top Vitamin B12 products

  • Mind Lab Pro®: Clinically proven nootropic stack; the ultimate all-round brain booster. 11 nootropics, including 7.5 mcg of Vitamin B12 per serving. Learn more about Mind Lab Pro®
  • Performance Lab® Caffeine 2: Healthy, balanced and performance-tuned "smart caffeine" that restores B-Vitamins, including B12, that are depleted by coffee. Learn more about Caffeine 2
  • Pre Lab Pro®: Nootropic energy pre-workout for peak intensity with no crash. Includes high-performance sport nutrients plus essentials like Vitamin B12. Learn more about Pre Lab Pro®
  • NutriGenesis® Multi: Advanced multivitamin that supplies essentials for overall health and well-being, including B-complex with Vitamin B12. Learn more about Multi for Men and for Women

Vitamin B12 as a Nootropic

Vitamin B12 as a Nootropic. Illustration of a charged-up brain sparking with natural energy.

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is involved in the function of virtually every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids.

Vitamin B12's far-ranging benefits across body systems help support energy, blood health, digestive function, skeletal strength and more. In this article, we're focusing on B12 for the brain.

Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins play key roles in brain health and neural function.

How does B12 work as a nootropic, specifically? Let's take a look at some of its most important bioactivities for bolstering the brain.

Brain Chemicals: Vitamin B12 is involved in catalyzing and producing neurotransmitters for cell to cell signaling such as dopamine and serotonin, which are critical for brain function and mood regulation.(1) Learn more about nootropics for neurotransmitters

Brain Protection: Vitamin B12 helps form myelin, the fatty sheath that protects and optimizes communication between all neurons in the brain.(2-4)

Brain Energy: B12 supports cell energy metabolism throughout the body, including within brain cells.(5)

Brain Blood Flow: B12 plays a role in balancing homocysteine that damages blood vessels; one study found B12 supplementation (combined with folate) reduced homocysteine by 36%.(6)

Tip: It is always a good idea to take Vitamin B12 as part of a whole B-vitamin complex.

In particular, Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 have been studied in combination and appear to be more effective for brain chemicals and homocysteine regulation when taken together.

For example, in one analysis, researchers linked Vitamin B9 supplementation (.5 mg) with a 25% reduction in blood homocysteine levels; adding B12 (.5 mcg) reduced homocysteine an additional 7%.(7)

B12 Brain Research Studies and Possible Benefits

Most of the evidence supporting B12 as a nootropic suggests failing to get enough Vitamin B12 can negatively impact the brain.

Researchers have linked suboptimal and deficient B12 levels to:(8-12)

  • memory problems and cognitive decline
  • depression, mild anxiety and even higher anxiety levels
  • Other mental health concerns including OCD
  • loss of overall brain size in the elderly

Restoring B12 to healthy levels -- via dietary changes or supplementation -- may help to reverse health issues related to sub-optimal B12 intake.

B12, Stress and Burnout: What's the Connection?

B12, Stress and Burnout: What's the Connection? A stressed out-woman in an office holding her head in her hands while surrounded with people demanding her time. She could benefit from Vitamin B12 burnout support.

Chronic stress, including workplace stress, family strife and other daily stressful situations, can negatively impact cognition and lead to a mood disorder known as burnout.

Symptoms of burnout may include:

  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Cynicism and detachment
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness
  • Irritability and impatience
  • Difficulty concentrating; brain fog
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, upset stomach)
  • Trouble sleeping; poor sleep quality
  • Loss of motivation
  • Withdrawal from responsibilities

Taking supplements with Vitamin B12 may help with some symptoms of burnout.

When under stress, the body may require more nutrients for various metabolic processes, including those in which vitamin B12 is involved, such as energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Chronic stress can also lead to changes in eating habits and digestive issues, which in turn can affect vitamin B12 status.

For example, prolonged stress can influence the stomach's acid production, potentially leading to a reduction in the stomach's ability to properly absorb vitamin B12 from food.

While stress itself is not a direct cause of vitamin B12 depletion, its various negative effects on the body -- including producing too much cortisol (stress hormone) -- can contribute to conditions that make vitamin B12 deficiency more likely.

In one meta-analysis, researchers found that B-vitamins in supplement form, including B12, were associated with a reduction in stress and improvement in mood.(13)

With that in mind, it's important to put effort into managing and relieving stress, as well as maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamin B12. This is especially crucial during periods of high "burnout stress."

Magnesium and adaptogen herbs like Rhodiola rosea also reduce stress and may be used as supplements for burn out.

Learn more about nootropic nutrients for burnout stress

Why supplement with B12?

Why supplement with B12? A bottle spills tablets and softgels into an open palm, including Vitamin B12 nootropic supplements for burnout.

While the majority of people consume more than the recommended amount of vitamin B12, around 20% of the elderly population in Western countries experience a deficiency of this vital nutrient. The primary reason for this deficiency in those aged 60 and above is malabsorption.

Similarly, vegans and vegetarians may face risks of B12 deficiency due to the absence of animal products in their diets.

Vitamin B12 is most commonly found in animal products, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy, making it particularly important for vegetarians and vegans to consider supplementation or fortified foods to ensure adequate intake.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding women, older adults, and those with certain gastrointestinal disorders are also at a higher risk of deficiency and may require supplements.

A lack of vitamin B12, or hypocobalaminemia, can adversely affect cognitive function and may lead to an increased risk of neurological disorders.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is typically diagnosed with a routine blood test.

To address vitamin B12 deficiency, especially in at-risk individuals, a healthcare professional may suggest dietary changes, supplementation or even injection of Vitamin B12.

Is a "shot of B12" an option?

Vitamin B12 shots are intramuscular injections administered by a healthcare professional to address B12 deficiency. They help people who have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from their diet or supplements, such as those with anemia, older adults, and people with gastrointestinal health issues.

Is a 'shot of B12' an option? A hand holds a glass vial of red liquid, symbolizing a shot of vitamin B12.

The primary benefits associated with vitamin B12 shots may include an increase in energy levels, improvement in mood, and a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety levels, which are often associated with B12 deficiency.

Researchers have reported that for healthy individuals, supplements with high doses of vitamin b12 (1000-2000 mcg daily) may be as effective as intramuscular shots for people who are deficient.(14)

Beyond the Brain: Additional reasons to take B12

Cardiovascular System: Especially in combination with other B vitamins, it helps lower homocysteine levels. It also supports healthy endothelial function, helping to regulate high blood pressure levels.

Blood health: B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, helping to ward off the anemia that is characterized by fatigue and weakness; it also helps balance blood sugar.

Digestive Support: Facilitates proper digestion by aiding in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, which contributes to energy production. Also optimizes the gut for nutrient absorption.

Skeletal System: Associated with better bone health and lower risk of osteoporosis, especially in older adults, by aiding in bone mineral density maintenance.

Immune Function: May support immune system function, potentially by helping to maintain healthy and balanced immune responses to invading pathogens. Learn more about natural immune support

Skin, Hair, and Nails: Along with other B vitamins, B12 plays a role in cell reproduction, contributing to healthy skin, hair, and nails by assisting in their ongoing renewal process.

B12 forms found in supplements

Vitamin B12 supplements come in several forms, each with distinct characteristics. The common forms found in dietary supplements include:

Cyanocobalamin: Synthetic B12; common and widely used in cheaper supplements. It converts to active forms of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin) in the body.

Methylcobalamin: One of the two active forms of vitamin B12 found in the body. Found in foods, it is readily utilized by the body and is often recommended for those with B12 absorption issues.

Hydroxocobalamin: Naturally produced by bacteria in the gut, hydroxocobalamin is converted into active forms of B12 in the body.

Adenosylcobalamin (5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin): The other active form of B12 in the body, adenosylcobalamin, is associated with cellular energy production.

Beyond these forms are many more versions created as "branded" B12 that are used in many other supplements. It can be confusing choosing the best B12.

Best Vitamin B12 to take: NutriGenesis®

Best Vitamin B12 to take: NutriGenesis®. Its logo, shown, resembles a molecule structure growing leaves out of the top. It is surrounded by green leaves in vials and green liquid in petri dishes.

NutriGenesis® is a proprietary process used to create nature-identical vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 as active methylcobalamin. The NutriGenesis® process is designed to mimic nutrient creation within plants, providing vitamins and minerals that are bio-engineered to be more recognizable to the human body, mirroring those found in natural foods.

NutriGenesis® cultivates nutrients through yeast or probiotic fermentation, a method that embeds vitamins and minerals into a matrix of proteins, peptides, carbohydrates, lipids, and beta-glucans. The final nutrients feature enhanced bioavailability, digestive comfort and efficacy compared to synthetic or isolated forms found in many supplements.

The controlled fermentation process is also potentially more sustainable and environmentally friendly than traditional methods of nutrient extraction and synthesis.

Learn more about NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals

Best Nootropic Supplement with Vitamin B12: Mind Lab Pro®

Best Nootropic Supplement with Vitamin B12: Mind Lab Pro®. Its bottle and capsules are on a blue background with a couple of green leaves.

Supplying 7.5 mcg of premium-quality NutriGenesis® Vitamin B12 nootropic per serving, Mind Lab Pro® (MLP®) is the top nootropic stack on the market today.

Ingredients: Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine (PS), Bacopa monnieri (24% bacosides), Organic Lion's Mane Mushroom, Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins), N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Rhodiola rosea (3% rosavins, 1% salidrosides). Plus NutriGenesis® B-Vitamins: Vitamin B6 (2.5 mg), Vitamin B9 (100 mcg), Vitamin B12 (7.5 mcg).

The world's first Universal Nootropic™, Mind Lab Pro® is uniquely capable of improving all types of thinking in all types of people -- especially dynamic and performance-driven individuals. It's also a great burnout supplement and helps build brain health over time.

It's also one of the very few nootropic supplements backed by real research. In two separate studies, MLP has been shown to enhance information processing and multiple aspects of memory performance.

More on Mind Lab Pro®

Additional supplements with NutriGenesis® Vitamin B12

Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

Performance Lab® Caffeine 2. Its bottle sits on an orange geometric shape against a white background.

Did you know that caffeine can actually drain B-vitamins from your body? Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 can help: it's a smarter caffeine pill in capsule form that keeps you balanced with complementary nutrients, including Vitamin B12.

Ingredients: Natural Caffeine (from Coffea robusta seeds), L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine. Plus NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex: Riboflavin [Vitamin B2] 500 mcg; Vitamin B6 750 mcg; Folate [Vitamin B9] 170 mcg, Vitamin B12 2 mcg.

Caffeine 2 is designed to promote a cleaner, calmer stimulation state. So you get the positive effect -- sharp mental clarity and alertness -- without jitters or crashes.

And because it helps to replenish what caffeine takes away, it can be taken safely every day. It even nourishes brain health when taken over time.

More on Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi

Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi. Bottles of the men's formula and women's formula sit in a laboratory setting next to a microscope.

After your diet, a good multivitamin may be your next source of Vitamin B12. Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi is the best you can get.

This ultramodern multivitamin is offered in customized formulas for men's and women's distinct nutritional needs.

Ingredients: 24 cultured essential vitamins and minerals complexed with cofactors for optimal potency. Both NutriGenesis® Multi for Men and NutriGenesis® Multi for Women supply 10 mcg of Vitamin B12 per serving.

Multi features advanced form NutriGenesis® lab-grown vitamins and minerals with cofactors, enzymes and probiotics that enhance their bioavailability, metabolism and utilization.

It all adds up to foundational support for healthy performance across all body systems. A top-quality multivitamin, using advanced technology to produce a clean, comfortable, effective and eco-friendly finished product.

More on Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi

Did you know? Like B12 deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency is linked to cognitive impairment. Researchers have reported that poor vitamin D levels may be linked to degenerative brain concerns.

Vitamin D levels for cognition may be restored via vitamin D supplementation, greater intake of vitamin D foods (such as green leafy vegetables), and also healthy (moderate) levels of sunlight exposure.(14)

If you opt for supplements, look for the easy-to-absorb Vitamin D3 form to most efficiently restore healthy vitamin D levels.

For more information, you can check out one of the highest quality Vitamin D supplements here.

Pre Lab Pro®

Pre Lab Pro®. Its black tub with white lettering sits on a gritty gym floor surrounded by exercise equipment.

This formula is regarded as the "world's smartest pre-workout nutrition" because it's nootropics-enhanced for smooth energy, focus and peak performance, with no crashing during or after your workout.

Ingredients: Red Beetroot Powder; Setria® Performance Blend; Natural Caffeine; L-Theanine (amino found in green tea); L-Tyrosine; Vitamin D3, Potassium and Iron (all as NutriGenesis®), Himalayan Pink Salt. Plus Vitamin B2, 500 mcg, Vitamin B6 750 mg, vitamin B9 167 mcg, Vitamin B12 2 mcg.

With an additional amino acid, antioxidant and electrolyte support for blood flow and natural hydration, Pre Lab Pro® enhances intensity, motivation and mental sharpness throughout your session. You'll experience better gym performance throughout your whole session and feel great afterwards, too.

Pre Lab Pro® mixes into a delicious berry-flavored drink that's easy to take, even on an empty stomach.

More on Pre Lab Pro®


Vitamin B12 is a critical nootropic brain booster with multifaceted benefits that extend well beyond cognitive enhancement.

Its pivotal role in supporting brain health, regulating mental health and facilitating life-sustaining functions make it critical to get enough. B12's potential as one of the supplements to help with burnout further strengthens its importance in our stressed-out lives.

Whether through diet or supplementation, ensuring sufficient intake of Vitamin B12 is crucial for optimal neurological function, mental clarity, and overall well-being.

As research continues to unveil the comprehensive impact of Vitamin B12 on cognitive performance and stress resilience, it becomes even more clear that this vitamin is not just a supplement, but a cornerstone of holistic health practices for the brain and beyond.

Scientific References

  1. Calderón-Ospina CA, Nava-Mesa MO. B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2020 Jan;26(1):5-13.
  2. Miller A. (2005). Vitamin B12, demyelination, remyelination and repair in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Sci., Jun 15;233(1-2):93-7.
  3. Toohey JI: Vitamin B12 and methionine synthesis: A critical review. Is nature's most beautiful cofactor misunderstood? BioFactors 2006, 26(1):45-57.
  4. Miller A, Korem M, Almog R, Galboiz Y. Vitamin B12, demyelination, remyelination and repair in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Sci. 2005 Jun 15;233(1-2):93-7.
  5. Vitamin B12 - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)
  6. Eussen SJ, et al. Effect of oral vitamin B-12 with or without folic acid on cognitive function in older people with mild vitamin B-12 deficiency: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:361-70.
  7. Homocysteine Lowering Trialists' Collaboration. Lowering blood homocysteine with folic acid based supplements: meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ. 1998 Mar 21; 316(7135): 894-898.
  8. Vogiatzoglou A, et al. Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly. Neurology 2008, 71(11):826-832
  9. Sahu P, Thippeswamy H, Chaturvedi SK. Neuropsychiatric manifestations in vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitam Horm. 2022;119:457-470.
  10. Clarke R, Birks J, Nexo E, Ueland PM, Schneede J, Scott J, et al. Low vitamin B-12 status and risk of cognitive decline in older adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1384-91.
  11. Zhang Y, et al. Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia. PloS one 2016, 11(1):e0146797
  12. Valizadeh M, Valizadeh N. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as Early Manifestation of B12 Deficiency. Indian J Psychol Med. 2011 Jul-Dec; 33(2): 203-204.
  13. Young LM, Pipingas A, White DJ, Gauci S, Scholey A. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 16;11(9):2232. doi: 10.3390/nu11092232. PMID: 31527485; PMCID: PMC6770181.
  14. Vidal-Alaball J, Butler CC, Cannings-John R, Goringe A, Hood K, McCaddon A, McDowell I, Papaioannou A. Oral vitamin B12 versus intramuscular vitamin B12 for vitamin B12 deficiency. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jul 20;(3):CD004655.
  15. Utley A, Gonzalez Y, Imboden CA. The Efficacy of A Nootropic Supplement on Information Processing in Adults: A Double Blind, Placebo Controlled Study. Biomed J Sci & Tech Res 49(1)-2023.
  16. Abbott-Imboden C., Gonzalez Y., Utley A. (2023). Efficacy of the nootropic supplement Mind Lab Pro on memory in adults: Double blind, placebo-controlled study. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, e2872.
  17. Sultan S, Taimuri U, Basnan SA, Ai-Orabi WK, Awadallah A, Almowald F, Hazazi A. Low Vitamin D and Its Association with Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. J Aging Res. 2020 Apr 30;2020:6097820. doi: 10.1155/2020/6097820. PMID: 32399297; PMCID:

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article is an opinion and explanation of current research given by the author. It is not an expression of a medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on as such.

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