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B12 vs. Caffeine: Comparing the Effects on Your Body and Mind

b12 vs caffeine

If you’re looking for a way to boost your mood or energy levels, two most popular options you’ll hear about are B12 and caffeine. But what does each nutrient do to your mind and body, and is either one right for you?

Here, we go over everything that you need to know about both nutrients. While they can be a valuable part of your diet, they can also have adverse side effects.

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Overview of B12

How It Works

B12 is a naturally occurring vitamin that you can find in meats, fish, and dairy products. However, you cannot find B12 in plant matter, so if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you might need to take a supplement to ensure that your body isn’t deficient in this important nutrient.

B12 has tons of natural benefits. It can help improve energy levels, sleep quality, bone health, immune system, and more.

Health Benefits of B12

According to WebMD, not only can B12 help boost your energy level and mood, but maintaining the proper amounts of B12 in your diet can also reduce the risk of depression, improve memory, and reduce the risk of dementia.

While excessive amounts of B12 don’t have any additional advantages, ensuring that your body isn’t deficient is essential to maintaining optimal health.

girl jumping energy
Image Credit: Alexei Scutari, Unsplash

Health Risks of B12

One of the most notable advantages of B12 is that there are no real medical drawbacks to typical dosages. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, if you take extremely high dosages, you might notice the following side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Tingling sensation in hands or feet

But keep in mind that this is for extremely high dosages through supplements, and it’s not something that you need to worry about with regular dosages in food and drinks.

Finally, WebMD states that B12 can interact with the following medications:

  • Chloramphenicol
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Histamine H2 receptor antagonists
  • Metformin

Again, this is for when you’re taking supplements. Naturally occurring amounts of B12 in your diet shouldn’t affect any of these medications.

  • No negative health consequences
  • Naturally occurring in meats, fish, and dairy products
  • Many natural health benefits
  • Increases energy and mood
  • Not as effective as caffeine
  • Extremely high dosages can have adverse side effects
  • High amounts can interact with medications

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Overview of Caffeine

a cup of coffee
Image Credit: Anastasia Eremina, Unsplash

How It Works

Caffeine is one of the most popular supplements in the world, but not too many people know exactly how it works. WebMD states, “Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system, heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure.”

It’s a natural chemical, and you can find it in various foods and drinks. Those stimulating effects on various parts of your body can be a great way to treat certain conditions.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

While it’s possible to overdo it with caffeine even in moderate amounts, there are numerous health benefits associated with caffeine. WebMD rates it as effective for migraines and other forms of headaches and likely effective for mental alertness.

Moreover, caffeine has potentially positive effects on conditions like:

man running on the road
Image Credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Health Risks of Caffeine

Most of the potential drawbacks of caffeine come from too much caffeine consumption. According to the Mayo Clinic, most healthy adults can consume up to 400 mg of caffeine daily.

However, the more caffeine you drink, the more you risk side effects like:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors
  • Nervousness

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you need to cut back on your caffeine content.

Finally, keep in mind that caffeine is habit-forming, and you build up a tolerance. So, if you start out by drinking a single cup of coffee every morning, it won’t take long for you to need a second cup to get the same benefit that you used to get from just one!

When you stop consuming caffeine, you can go through caffeine withdrawal, and these symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Muscle tremors

Since you can only consume so much caffeine each day, if you want to keep up the benefits, you’ll need to lower your dosage of caffeine at some point.

  • Effective for short-term boosts
  • Can help alleviate and prevent migraines
  • Many potential health benefits
  • Increases focus and productivity
  • Temporarily raises blood pressure
  • Habit forming
  • Can lead to crashes and other drop-offs
  • Reduces the effects of B12

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Before You Start a Regimen

Before you start upping either your B12 or caffeine intake, we highly recommend reaching out to your doctor for their advice. Each person has a unique medical situation, and what might be right for one person might be a problem for someone else.

You also need to consider your overall diet and whether you have B12 or caffeine sensitivities. Some people can easily up their intake, while for others, even a slight uptick will cause problems.

Get to know your body and listen to what it’s trying to tell you, and don’t ignore any side effects. Finally, if you’re starting either a B12 or a caffeine regimen, start with a low dosage and only take as much as necessary. There’s no reason to up the dosage if a lower amount is giving you everything that you need!

woman holding a cup of coffee
Image Credit: CURVD®, Unsplash

Combining Caffeine and B12

There’s a reason that most energy drinks contain both caffeine and B12. Both nutrients are extremely effective at boosting your mood and energy levels, so when you combine them, you can see increased results.

However, keep in mind that caffeine naturally diminishes your body’s ability to retain a water-soluble nutrient like B12. So, if you’re an avid caffeine drinker, there’s a good chance that a B12 supplement will do you a bit of good. But if your body naturally struggles to absorb B12, you might want to skip the caffeine entirely and just go with a B12 supplement.

Which Is Right for You?

Without knowing your medical history, we can’t make a recommendation on whether caffeine or B12 is the right choice for you. You should reach out to your doctor for a more thorough recommendation.

Still, there are a few things we can highlight that you should be aware of if you’re thinking of upping your caffeine or B12 intake. First, many people have caffeine sensitivities, and if that’s you, limit the amount of caffeine that you consume.

Second, if you’re already struggling to retain enough B12, we highly recommend avoiding caffeine because it can make it harder for your body to retain and absorb the nutrient.

Finally, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, there’s a good chance that you need to take a B12 supplement. B12 is only found naturally in meat, fish, and dairy products, so if you’re not consuming those, your body likely isn’t getting enough.

Advantages of B12

  • Non-habit forming
  • Naturally occurring
  • Minimal negative side effects
  • Boosts energy and mood
  • Numerous health benefits
Advantages of Caffeine
  • Effective at providing more energy
  • Naturally occurring
  • Numerous health benefits
  • Improves moods
  • Can help improve memory

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Now that you know more about both B12 and caffeine, it’s up to you to decide which one, if either, is right for you. While there are plenty of potential health benefits to starting a regimen of either nutrient, there are potential drawbacks to each option too.

If you’re unsure about what you want or need, reach out to your doctor to see what advice they have for you!

Read More: Pamabrom vs Caffeine: Comparing the Effects on Your Body and Mind

Featured Image Credit: Left – B12 (Nikita Shumilov, Shutterstock) | Right – Caffeine (SOMMAI, Shutterstock)


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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