Can You Take B12 While on Keto Diet? Yes + Vitamins Needed for Keto

Keto (Low Carb) | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 21 June 2024

A white woman's hand with long nails holds a white pill bottle labeled "Vitamin B12" in green, set against a backdrop of brown suede material.

Like other diet plans, Keto has its own set of rules regarding consumption of various nutrients.

Fortunately, taking vitamins such as B12 is allowed as vitamins are pure compounds that cannot be converted to simple sugars, which affect ketosis.

However, the keto diet is known to cause nutrient deficiencies, especially when it comes to dietary fiber and some vitamins; and these vitamins are crucial for the proper functioning of the body.

Therefore, doctors and experts alike recommend supplementing B12 and there are a few other vitamins that are needed for keto to be done safely, and properly.

For this reason, this guide will explain in ins and outs of b12 in relation to keto, as well as other vitamins keto dieters should consider to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Is It Possible To Take B12 While on a Keto Diet? Does B12 Affect Ketosis? Is B12 Suitable for Keto?

B12 and other vitamins are inherently pure compounds that the body cannot convert into simple sugars; therefore, they will not interfere with or kick you out of ketosis. However, while dieters are free to take vitamin supplements while on Keto, they should know that these supplements have fillers such as dextrin and maltodextrin, which are essentially carbs.

Additionally, other supplements such as flavored drink supplements, gummies, and protein powders have added sugars that may kick you out of Keto.

Therefore, Keto experts recommend taking these supplements in moderate amounts to avoid getting kicked out of ketosis. The Keto dieter should look at the label of the supplement they are taking, examine the sugar content and adjust their daily diet accordingly.

What Is Ketosis in Relation to B12?

The Keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet recommended by weight loss experts to those looking to shed a few pounds. Keto also helps in the short-term management of chronic conditions.

What is Ketosis? Most people believe that ketosis is a general term that describes a list of foods that have low-carb content.

That is not the case; ketosis is a metabolic state achieved by reducing carbohydrate consumption to a certain amount. Then, the body enters this state where fat is burned to produce energy instead of carbohydrates.

This means that as long as carbohydrate consumption is within a certain standard, the body will enter and maintain ketosis. Carbs such as starch, saturated sugars and simple sugars are the primary influence of Ketosis.

Consuming other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals will not affect this metabolic state, and this partly answers the question; can you take B12 while on Keto?

B12 and Ketosis: The Impact of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 plays a key role in lipid metabolism and the deficiency is linked to obesity and fat accumulation. This vitamin has an important role in Ketosis in that it helps in the body’s absorption of Ketones and increases the beneficial effects of Ketosis.1

Consequently, vitamin B12 is very helpful for someone following a strict Keto diet and should be taken regularly.

The beneficial effects of B12 on a Keto diet include but are not limited to:

  • Increased energy
  • Weight loss
  • Better mood
  • Better Sleep
  • Clear skin

How Does Vitamin B12 Benefit the Body

On a regular diet, B12 increases the production of energy from carbohydrates. This vitamin is also essential for the healthy and proper functioning of the body as it maintains DNA and blood cells.

The water-soluble vitamin also aids in nerve functions.

Low vitamin B12 is often associated with the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • ADHD

Based on this information, it is safe to infer that vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient in the body regardless of the plan or weight loss diet you follow. If the body has sufficient B12 vitamins, it will metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins efficiently.

As a result, this vitamin is crucial for Keto because it plays a vital role in the body’s energy production.

Does Keto Allow Food With B12 in It?

A bunch of clear, gold-colored supplements with visible shadows are placed on a white background.

Source: Nicolas Solerieu from Unsplash6

The human body does not produce its own vitamin B12.

Hence, it needs to be sourced from specific foods and vitamin supplements. Fortunately, B12 is typically compatible with a low-carb keto diet, and the body can acquire vitamin B12 from animal products, which are beneficial for keto.

These sources include:

  • Dairy products
  • Yogurt
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Seafood

Besides animal protein, several Keto friendly vegetables are rich in vitamin B12. They include:

  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Alfalfa

What’s the Daily Recommended Amount of B12 To Consume?

Since vitamin B12 is crucial for the proper functioning of the body, you need to consume an adequate amount whether you are on the Keto diet or not. A normal adult who is not on any diet needs a daily amount of 1.5 micrograms of B12.

Anyone on Keto will need a daily amount of 2.4 micrograms of B12 vitamin.2 Noticeably, this is more than the normal daily amount recommended for an adult on a regular diet.

This variation is brought about by the body’s need to absorb more ketones for energy during ketosis.

However, if you are on a Keto diet, you shouldn’t worry about B12 deficiency as it’s often a part of the food you consume on a daily basis, mostly animal protein. To put this into perspective, 100 grams of liver has 18.7mg of B12 vitamin, while one large egg contains 1.1 mg of B12.

Therefore, consuming two eggs daily or eating liver while on Keto is enough to meet the daily requirements.

What Are the Symptoms of B12 Deficiency?

A poorly planned Keto diet can cause a deficiency in B12 vitamin and this is especially common for those who follow vegan Keto diets.3

A few factors can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency; they include:

Vegan diet: The B12 vitamin is mainly found in milk, eggs, and meat. Therefore people who don’t consume these foods will need to take supplements or eat vegetarian alternatives rich in B12, such as Alfalfa and spinach.

Low stomach acid and Intestinal Problems: Celiac and Crohn’s disease and low stomach acid can interfere with B-12 absorption.

Gastric surgeries: If you surgically remove a portion of your intestines or stomach, you will reduce the space or surface area needed for B12 absorption.

Age: Older people have more difficulty absorbing B12 in their bodies than younger people.

Sedentary lifestyle: Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of B12 deficiency, especially among young women.

Common signs that indicate a lack of B12 vitamin include:

  • Pale skin
  • Yellow eyes
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tinnitus
  • Issues with balance
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Swollen tongue
  • Disturbed vision
  • Anemia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness
  • Neuropathy (sensitive nerves)
  • Tingling of legs and hands

In this case, the concerned party should look for vitamin supplements from their local pharmacy or get B12 injections from their healthcare provider.

Symptoms of Excessive B12 in the Body

Too much of something is dangerous, and this cannot be more true for the B12 vitamin as an excessive amount of this vitamin can lead to a few health complications.4 A person with a higher-than-average amount of B12 can suffer from hypercobalaminemia (high serum vitamin B12 levels) which may result in several symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea

Should You Take Vitamins on Keto? (Why Keto May Lead to Vitamins Deficiencies)

Those wondering if they can take B12 while on a keto diet might also consider whether they should consume other vitamins on keto. The truth of the matter is that vitamins, as long as they’re 0 carb (most are), do not affect Keto other than helping the body absorb ketones.

First and foremost, dieters pick Keto and other low-carb diets such as Atkins because they want to lose weight. However, these diets may cause vitamin deficiencies for the dieters rather than improve them.

Some of these dieters may be overweight, and studies have shown that nutritional deficiency is highly correlated to being overweight more than 80% of the time. For that reason, an overweight person jumping into these diets might worsen their deficiencies, leading to serious consequences.

Second, while vitamins are great for low-fat vs. low-carb diet plans, keto dieters are at risk of acquiring vitamin deficiencies. They exacerbate this risk by shunning vitamin-rich foods like fruits and vegetables that also contain a high amount of carbohydrates (carrots, beets, sweet potatoes etc.)5

The most common nutrient deficiencies in these low-carb diets such as Keto include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B7
  • Vitamin B9
  • Iodine
  • Magnesium
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Molybdenum

Consequently, it’s important to strategize the types of food you should include in the diet and get additional supplements to correct or reduce any underlying issues. Taking vitamins while on a Keto diet won’t impact your weight loss progress; instead, it enables safe weight loss while maintaining a balanced micronutrient profile.

Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamins serve diverse and important roles in the body. As such, lacking this nutrition may lead to a myriad of unpleasant symptoms.

The body uses these symptoms to communicate potential deficiencies; thus, recognizing them will help dieters adjust their diets accordingly. They include:

1. Brittle Hair and Nails and Hair Loss

Lack of biotin or B7 vitamin can lead to brittle nails and hair. B7, like B12, helps in the conversion of nutrients into energy.

This deficiency is very rare, but when it occurs, some noticeable symptoms include:

  • Splitting, thinning, and brittle hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Cramps
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Tingling in the feet and hands

The risk of getting this deficiency is higher in

  • Smokers
  • Drinkers
  • Pregnant women
  • People with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease

2. Cracks on the Mouth Corners or Mouth Ulcers

Insufficient vitamins and minerals can partly cause lesions around and in the mouth. For example, canker sores, often called mouth ulcers, result from B vitamins and iron deficiencies.

Insufficient riboflavin (B2 vitamin) can also cause Angular cheilitis. This condition causes mouth corners to split, crack and bleed.

3. Bleeding Gums

Vitamin C helps to boost immunity and wound healing and it acts as an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage. Lack of vitamin C in the body may result in bleeding gums and slow healing of wounds in the body.

Symptoms of lack of vitamin C include bleeding gums or even loss of teeth. Additionally, continuous vitamin C deficiency will cause scurvy, and weaken bones, muscles, and the immune system, making the body susceptible to diseases and infections.

Some other early subtle signs of C vitamin deficiency include:

  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Scaly dry skin
  • Slow wound healing
  • Easy bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy

4. White Growth on the Eyes and Poor Night Vision

Vitamin A deficiency is often linked to night blindness, a condition where one cannot see in darkness or low light. This vitamin is a necessary compound in the production of rhodopsin, a pigment in the eye’s retina that helps people see at night.

If left untreated, night blindness progresses to xerophthalmia, which damages the cornea, eventually leading to blindness. One early symptom of this condition is Bitot’s spots.

These spots are the foamy, white, slightly elevated growths found in the white parts of the eyes (conjunctiva).

It’s important to note that vitamin A deficiency is very rare in developed countries. If you notice a deficiency, try adding dairy, organ meats, fish, eggs, yellow-colored vegetables, and dark leafy greens to your diet.

Consumers should avoid vitamin A supplements as this vitamin is a fat-soluble substance that, when taken in excess, will gather up in the body’s fat stores and become toxic.

5. Dandruff and Scaly Patches

Vitamin deficiency will lead to scaly patches and dandruff in the ears, eyelids, eyebrows, chest, and scalp. Scaly patches and dandruff result from a lack of B6, B2, and B3 vitamins, as well as zinc and niacin.

Adding these nutrients to your diet will help with the symptoms.

Essential Vitamins and Supplements for the Ketogenic Diet

A probiotic supplement is being taken out of a glass bottle by a woman's hand, with a white plate holding two pieces of toast and an egg visible on an armrest and a wooden coffee table in the background.

Source: Daily Nouri from Unsplash7

Doctors and other experts recommend getting your nutrients from food rather than supplements as vitamins and minerals in the food will not affect ketosis. On the other hand, supplements such as protein shakes, supplement flavored drinks and gummies have added sugars that might kick you out of ketosis.

Moreover, supplement fillers such as dextrin, dextrose, and maltodextrin are not suitable for Keto because they are carb-based.

Below is a table that lists which Keto friendly food to consume to obtain specific vitamins and other nutrients.

NutrientKeto-Friendly Food Source
ChromiumGreen beans, poultry, beef, broccoli
CholineSpinach, shellfish, meat, liver, eggs
SeleniumSeeds, mushrooms, brazil nuts
PhosphorusSeafood, pork, turkey, chicken, seeds
SodiumShellfish, sea salt
MolybdenumLeafy green vegetables, eggs, cashews, almonds
ManganeseTea, nuts, leafy vegetables
MagnesiumSpinach, almonds
PotassiumSpinach and other leafy vegetables
IodineEggs, iodized salt, seaweed, seafood
IronLiver, organ meat, shellfish, spinach
CopperNuts, liver, oysters, organ meat
CalciumSardines, almonds, chia seeds
Vitamin KCauliflower, chard, kale, spinach
Vitamin ESpinach, almonds, vegetable oils
Vitamin DEggs, sardines, salmon, cod liver oil
Vitamin CLemons, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
Vitamin B12Eggs, fish, chicken, liver, beef
Folate (Vitamin B9)Kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, liver
Biotin (Vitamin B7)Avocado, egg yolks, liver, nuts, seeds
Vitamin B6Eggs, fish, pork
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)Fish, poultry, beef, broccoli, avocado
Niacin (Vitamin B3)Tuna, turkey, salmon, avocado, liver
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)Eggs, poultry, lean meats, nuts
Vitamin AOranges, vegetables, Cod liver oil

If a dieter must take vitamin supplements, or they are advised to do so by a doctor, they should be wary of the added sugars. It’s important to examine the carb content in your supplement and adjust your diet accordingly.

To summarize, while the keto diet can lead to some vitamin deficiencies, B12 is not typically among them. Foods rich in B12, such as fish, dairy products, and meat, are very keto-friendly.

Additionally, B12 aids in the absorption of ketones, so taking B12 while on a keto diet is beneficial.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Vitamins Kick You Out of Ketosis?

No, vitamins and minerals generally do not influence ketosis because they have other functions in the body.

When Should You Take B12 on a Keto Diet?

On the keto diet or not, you can take B12 at anytime of the day but the best time is in the morning and along with a meal that contains healthy fats.

Does the Keto Diet Lead to B12 Deficiency?

Generally, a Keto diet does not cause B12 deficiency because these nutrients are obtained from Keto-friendly food such as meat and dairy products. However, a vegan Keto diet might cause the deficiency; therefore, a dieter is encouraged to take supplements or consult a physician.


References

1Smith, Lauren. (2019). B12 & Ketosis Osmosis. Specialty Dripps. Retrieved on February 6, 2023 From <https://specialtydripps.com/ketosisosmosis/#:~:text=Vitamin%20b12%20increases%20the%20body's,%2C%20better%20sleep%2C%20clearer%20skin>

2Popa, Bogdan. (2020). Thrive on the Keto Diet By Avoiding These (Common) Nutrient Deficiencies. Core Med Science. Retrieved on February 6, 2023 From <https://coremedscience.com/blogs/wellness/thrive-on-the-keto-diet-by-avoiding-these-common-nutrient-deficiencies>

3Steven, A. (2021). Can Vitamins Kick You Out of Ketosis? [Why Some Can]. The Art of Keto, Retrieved on February 6, 2023. From <https://www.theartofketo.com/can-vitamins-kick-you-out-of-ketosis/#:~:text=It's%20completely%20safe%20to%20take,or%20flavored%20vitamin%20drink%20supplements>

4Katie, C. (2022). Can You Take B12 While on the Keto Diet? The Keto Eater. Retrieved on February 6, 2023, From <https://theketoeater.com/b12-and-keto/>

5Roberts, Abigail. (2021). Can the Keto Diet Cause B12 Deficiency? Performance Lab. Retrieved on February 6, 2022 From <https://www.performancelab.com/blogs/nutrition/can-the-keto-diet-cause-b12-deficiency>

6Nicolas Solerieu. “gold and silver heart shaped accessory photo – Free Vitamins Image on Unsplash.” Unsplash, 21 November 2020. Accessed 9 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/vHbw2pf8nbw>

7Daily Nouri. “person holding red bottle photo – Free Digestion Image on Unsplash.” Unsplash, 28 May 2019. Accessed 9 April 2023. <https://unsplash.com/photos/D37STEwmyqY>

8andriano.cz. Shutterstock. Accessed 21 April 2023. <https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/human-hand-holding-bottle-pills-vitamin-342266627>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.