What Can Vitamin B12 Do for Your Eyes?

What Can Vitamin B12 Do for Your Eyes?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been on a diet. It could have been to lose weight, to feel younger, or to reduce blood pressure. You are what you eat, as the saying goes, and in terms of health, it couldn’t be truer. But, you probably haven’t dieted for your eyes.

In the big world of nutrition, eyesight is often left behind by more mainstream concerns, such as weight loss or maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. But that doesn’t mean your eyes don’t feel the effects of diet – just the opposite, really. Your eyes are delicate organs and require a mix of nutrients to function optimally. Vitamin B12 is among them, though researchers are still learning more about its exact role in keeping the eyes healthy.

What Can Vitamin B12 Do for Your Eyes?The Basics of B12

Chemically, vitamin B12 is a big, complex molecule. So much so that it’s currently impossible to synthesize without the help of bacteria. As very few living organisms (only certain bacteria as well as other single-celled life called archaea) produce it naturally, humans have to get their fair share through diet.

Fortunately, B12 can be found in most animal products. Seafood, particularly shellfish, is an excellent source of B12, as are dairy products and eggs. Liver is a little off the beaten dietary path for some, but it’s an incredible source of many vitamins, including B12.

For people who aren’t so eager to turn to the above options, getting sufficient amounts of B12 can be difficult. Vegans can take advantage of a wide range of B12 fortified products. You may never have thought about the “vitamin fortified” label on your grain products before, but they are actually important! Cereal, health bars, and yeast are all available in B12 fortified forms. However, the actual amount of vitamin B12 in these foods varies and may not be enough for everyone. As a result, vegetarians and vegans are generally advised to take B12 supplements on top of their regular diet.

Effects of B12 on the Body

A solid B12 supply is crucial to having a well-oiled nervous system, as well as the creation of new blood cells. An untreated deficiency can wreak havoc on the body, eventually causing severe, irreversible damage.

Weakness, pale pallor, and light-headedness are all early symptoms. These can progress to bleeding and bruising issues, as well as stomach and intestinal difficulties. Without vitamin B12, the sheaths around nerves also become damage-prone; in severe cases, neurological symptoms will eventually appear, including poor memory, difficulty thinking and concentrating, and even personality changes.

Of course, as with most vitamins, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Still, it’s unlikely that you’ll consume excessive amounts of B12 and experience side effects – it’s virtually impossible to do so with dietary sources, and even most supplements aren’t going to put you in the danger zone.

People with certain disorders, including gout and megaloblastic anemia, should be extra cautious when considering B12 supplements, as they may be more sensitive to supplements. In an otherwise healthy body, excess B12 supplements can cause nausea, raised blood pressure, and various skin problems. More worrisome, though less conclusive, is that tenuous links between certain cancers and B12 supplementation do exist. So, don’t take more B12 than directed, and as always, consult your physician before you embark on a supplement regimen.

Effects of B12 on Vision

We’re still far from understanding what parts of the visual system require B12, but recent studies have started to shed light on several ocular uses of the vitamin.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an enormous and increasing problem for older individuals. The disease results from either a buildup of deposits at the back of the eye or the growth of abnormal blood vessels. In both cases, sufferers lose significant portions of the central vision.

While prevention can go a long way toward stopping the progression of the disease, actually diagnosing a case of AMD isn’t easy, given how subtly it advances. While there’s no cure for AMD, there does appear to be a dietary means of slowing it down. Eating foods rich in vitamin B12, like broccoli, has proven to help slow the progression of AMD.

Optic neuropathy is among the rarer effects of B12 deficiency but still poses a considerable threat to the eyes. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying signals from the eyes to the brain; without it, even a patient with otherwise healthy eyes could lose vision. B12 deficiency can render nerves, including the optic nerve, to become brittle. It can cause damage to the optic nerve resulting in decreased central vision. It is possible that with proper B12 supplementation, sufferers may be able to reverse the effects of this condition.

Vitamin B12 and You

So, should you be concerned about B12 deficiency? It’s actually a tricky question to answer. Younger readers with diverse diets should be getting sufficient levels from their diet without any supplementation. However, anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet should absolutely take care to get their recommended dosage. Remember, a varied diet is the best way to build better vision.

People over 50 should also be on guard. The body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from animal sources declines with age. However, most fortified foods and supplements should still be effective.

If you do need to supplement, the next question is: what sort of supplement should you take? Several forms are available and you’re likely to see liquids, pills, sublingual supplements, sprays, and even injections. However, most people should avoid injections unless they’re at a hospital – injections are largely unnecessary, not to mention difficult to self-administer.

Most oral forms should be fine, as long as you get them from a reliable source like the Rebuild Your Vision Ocu-Plus Multivitamin. The most important thing is that you find a way to get enough vitamin B12 for the health of your eyes. The more you think about your vitamin supplementation earlier in life, the better your vision will be when you are older. So, make sure you add enough B12 sources to your next grocery haul. Your future eyes will thank you!

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Join or Start the Discussion

  1. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Chelle Pugh says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen just dangerous and mis-informed advice around B12! Firstly, there are NO negative effects as you CANNOT take too much. For cyanide poisoning, the dose give is 10,000 times the standard amount you would be given as an injection for a B12 deficiency. B12 is water soluble and anything your body doesn’t use will leave your body in your urine.

    To say that if you can’t absorb it from animal products you can still absorb it from fortified foods and supplements is categorically WRONG. If your body cannot absorb it, it cannot absorb it from any or these sources.

    If you have an absorption issue (which is anyone that has low B12 and is symptomatic of a deficiency but consumes a normal diet including animal derived products) you NEED the injections. A sublingual or spray MAY help – but it will not be enough alone and doesn’t work for everyone. The injections are the only thing proven to work and without these you will die. A B12 deficiency is very, very serious and will lead to death if untreated.

    I would urge anyone with a serum B12 level of less than 500 that is experiencing any symptoms of a deficiency to do thorough research into this. There is a lot of misconceptions out there, so try to stick to reputable sites that are dedicated to B12 advice & research. There are also a number of Facebook groups that have some incredibly knowledgeable people running them.

    If you are considering having a B12 injection, you should ALWAYS have the first one in a clinical environment. This is because it can cause an anaphylactic reaction in very rare cases. After that, self-injecting is an option for most people.

  2. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Mark says:

    Highly Recommend Dr Group Vegan B12 ! Gets Absorbed works Best i have seen.

  3. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Lezlie says:

    The Author is right, try to avoid injections. They contain preservatives, and you run the risk of infection whenever you pierce the skin. Instead, consider sublingual forms of B vitamins that absorb into the blood stream via the large vein under the tongue, and by-pass the gut. If you are aging and/or dealing with illness, take bio-available forms of B vitamins. For example, instead of regular B12 (cobalamin), supplement with the Co-enzymated form, Methylcobalamin. I take a sublingual Multi B Co-enzymated vitamin, plus extra B6 (as p5p) sublingual. B Vitamins work synergystically; if you are targeting one, it is important to supplement with all of them. And once again, the bio-available formulations are great, because they do not require conversion (in the liver) to be “body-ready”. They can go directly into the blood stream and get straight to work!

  4. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    I’m only 22 and I’m having B12 related neurological problems. I’m about to start monthly shots.
    Doc said that in my case, it isn’t that I’m not getting enough of it, it’s that my body can’t absorb it

  5. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    Sabri l vigabatrin and accord campground both damaged my optic nerve

  6. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    B12 injections should definitely not be avoided if you have pernicious anemea and can not absorb b12 through the gut due to low stomach acid , . Always ask gP to check b12 levels if you suffer chronic fatigue and many other symptoms .

  7. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen ajit says:

    Please let me know the natural cures for Floating Specks.


    • Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Mark says:

      MSM natural sulfur ,by taking 1/4 teaspoons 3 times per day increasing up to 2 table spoons 2 times per day after 3 weeks maintain 7 days then detox has completed .go back to 1/4 TSP daily !!! Very safe and effective Cleanse .

  8. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Patty says:

    I have pernicious anemia. I took B12 supplements for several years prior to being diagnosed with a very low level of B12, only 88. My body cannot absorb B12 through foods or supplements. I must take B12 shots. I have no choice unless I want to die an early death. This is a very poorly written article!

  9. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Lori says:

    Liposomal glutathione?

  10. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Terry says:

    I find taking a chewable Vitamin B12 B6 and Folic acid supplement really, really helps with my floaters. I was diagnosed with a mild B12 deficiency and every since I been taking the supplement my floater have improved, not gone completely but much better.

  11. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Kimah says:

    Visit the ophthalmologist ASAP!

  12. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Anonymous says:

    I’ve found its more likely a potassium deficiency..bananas and supplements helped me.

  13. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen jana says:

    None. It comes with aging eye tissue. Keep hydrated (6 glasses of water daily) and take a multivitamin.

  14. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Jin says:

    They ruin u . they ruined me.

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.


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