B12 for kids: A Vegan Dietitian’s perspective

B12 for kids

B12 for kids: can kids take B12?

B12 for kids is a very popular subject. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that helps keep our bodies healthy and functioning properly. It is especially important for children who are on a plant-based diet, as vitamin B12 is only present in meat products and only a small amount of plant-based foods are fortified with vitamin B12. 

But can kids take B12? The answer is yes, so it’s important to understand the correct dosage and why it’s necessary for children. This article will discuss the benefits of B12 for kids, its recommended dosage, and the potential effect of B12 deficiency.

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 also called cobalamin, is part of the B vitamin complex. It is water soluble, meaning that it dissolves in water with the excess removed from the body. This also means that the body cannot store excess in the body so a person needs to consume it on a daily basis from food or supplement.

Why is vitamin B12 important?

Vitamin B12 is needed for many functions, including:

  • Red blood cell production
  • DNA synthesis
  • Brain development
  • Cognitive function
  • Energy metabolism
Sources of Vitamin B12

Our body cannot make vitamin B12 so we can only get it from the food we eat. 

Vitamin B12 is naturally in foods that come from animals such as meat, fish, and dairy products. 

There are also fortified vitamin B12 plant-based foods such as:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Marmite + yeast spread
  • Fortified cereals
  • Plant-based milk such as soy and almond milk
  • Vegan “cheese” or “yogurt”

However, the amount of vitamin B12 in fortified foods is very inconsistent as B12 is heat and light-sensitive. This means that it can be broken down when cooking and during storage. This is why supplementation is the most reliable source to obtain B12 for vegans and vegetarian kids. 

B12 for children

Forms of B12 supplements

There are 4 different forms of B12 supplement and each differs in absorption. These forms are:

  • Methylcobalamin
  • Adenosylcobalamin
  • Cyanocobalamin
  • Hydroxocobalamin 

The most common form of vitamin B12 supplement is cyanocobalamin and it is the synthesized form that can convert to methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin in the body. 

Methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are naturally occurring forms from food sources and they usually work in synergy so it is best to be taken together. 

Hydroxocobalamin is only available by prescription and mostly given by injection to the muscle by a clinician to treat serious deficiencies.

The study has shown that the bioavailability between cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin is insignificant so supplementing either cyanocobalamin or the combination of methylcobalamin + adenosylcobalamin is adequate. 

Is B12 vegan?

Most B12 supplements are vegan as vitamin B12 is derived from bacteria, not animal sources. 

B12 for kids

B12 for kids: Can kids take B12?

Yes, definitely! It is safe for kids and vital for their cognitive and brain development. But at what age can kids start taking Vitamin B12 and how much do they need?

Can toddlers take Vitamin B12?

Kids can start taking vitamin B12 from birth. The amount of B12 needed by each child varies depending on their age and lifestyle.

How much B12 do kids need?

According to the Dietary Reference Intake, the daily recommended intake is as follows:

Birth to 6 months old: 0.4 micrograms (mcg)

7-12 months: 0.5 mcg

1-3 years: 0.9 mcg

4-8 years: 1.2 mcg

9-13 years: 1.8 mcg

14-18 years: 2.4 mcg

Since the body can only absorb a fraction of vitamin B12 at one time, it is recommended to take a B12 supplement to meet the daily recommended B12 intake as follow:


Daily single dose

Daily multiple doses

Weekly dose

Children aged 6 months-3 years


1mcg x 2 doses


Children aged 4-10 years


2mcg x 2 doses


Children aged 11 years and above


2mcg x 3 doses

1000mcg x 2 doses

Source: Vegan Nutrition for Mothers and Children: Practical Tools for Healthcare Providers Table 2.

Can you overdose on vitamin B12?

You cannot overdose on vitamin B12 because it is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that the excess that you take in the body will get excreted out through urine. Therefore, it is considered safe even if vitamin B12 is taken at a high dose.

When to take vitamin B12 for kids?

Vitamin B12 requires a protein called intrinsic factor to get absorbed in the stomach and later into the bloodstream and cells. However, the intrinsic factor can only absorb so much vitamin B12 at one time. 

It is important for kids to split the amount of B12 they consume throughout the day or the week. Likewise, taking a time-release capsule can help as well so B12 can be better absorbed in the body. Additionally, vitamin B12 should also be taken with food to avoid any digestive upsets.

B12 supplement recommendations

Some of the vegan vitamin B12 supplements that we recommend for your children are Garden of Life Mykind Organics Vitamin B12 Spray and Mauricettes Chewable Vegan Vitamin B12.

B12 for kids

Can children get B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that helps the body produce red blood cells and maintain a healthy nervous system. Unfortunately, some children may not get enough B12 from their diet, leading to a deficiency. Vitamin B12 is one of the most common vegan nutrient deficiencies as plant-based food doesn’t contain an adequate amount of vitamin B12. 

What happens if a B12 deficiency goes untreated?

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause long-term problems such as neurological and psychiatric problems, some signs include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Lack of energy
  • The feeling of tiredness and fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling in hands, legs or feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired cognitive difficulties or memory loss

If your child presents any of these symptoms or if you believe that your child is B12 deficient, see a pediatrician immediately about your concern.

Is B12 deficiency reversible?

Fortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency can be reversed with proper supplementation. However, if vitamin B12 deficiency is left untreated for a long time, it can cause irreversible damage to red blood cell production, cognitive function and many more. 

It’s important for parents to understand the risks of B12 deficiency in children and how it can be treated if detected early. Once you start correcting your vitamin B12 levels, it can take from six months to one year to correct a B12 deficiency completely. 

B12 for kids

B12 and sleeping

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps to keep your energy levels up and helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Does vitamin B12 actually help you sleep better? Does it increase the amount of melatonin in your body? And can too much of it cause insomnia?

Does B12 increase melatonin?

One of Vitamin B12’s functions is to help increase the body’s production of melatonin to maintain the circadian rhythm in order to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Can vitamin B12 cause insomnia?

Even though vitamin B12 can help increase melatonin and regulate the sleep-wake cycle, another function of vitamin B12 is to increase your energy production and stimulate your metabolism. Studies have shown that people who have high vitamin B12 levels are less likely to suffer from depression and this can help with insomnia due to depression. However, there is no research that shows vitamin B12 can cause insomnia.

Final thoughts – B12 for kids

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the body, and it’s important for kids to get enough of it. If your child is deficient in vitamin B12, it can lead to irreversible health problems in the long term. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your child gets enough of this essential nutrient.  

The best way to do this is to consult a vegan dietitian who can recommend foods and supplements to help your child meet their daily needs for vitamin B12. If you want to work together to ensure your children are getting adequate nutrition, contact us to book a session with a vegan dietitian.