group of friends hanging out and laughing during daytime

B12 vs. Caffeine: Which is Better for Energy?

When it comes to stimulants, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is caffeine. Starting your day with a hot (or iced) cup of coffee or tea is a sacred ritual for millions of people around the world.

But while caffeine may be the clear reigning energy champion, it's not the only option. Vitamin B12 has long been prized for its ability to deliver an energy boost without caffeine's undesirable side effects. But is it a worthy substitute?

Let's take a look at some of the important similarities and differences between caffeine and Vitamin B12 to help you make a more informed decision about which one should be your stimulant of choice.

Will Caffeine and Vitamin B12 Both Give Me Energy?

yellow banana beside green ceramic mug

This is probably going to be your biggest question — "Will B12 give me energy?" You probably know by now what effect caffeine has on you. For some, it provides a level boost of energy with minimal to no apparent side effects. For others, it triggers a more extreme reaction.

Along with caffeine’s energy may come things like anxiety, heart palpitations, shakiness, higher blood pressure, nausea, and other unpleasant signs of an overstimulated nervous system. What about B12? Can it produce those same negative side effects? The same quick energy boost? To answer that, it helps to first understand what caffeine and B12 are.

What Exactly are Caffeine and Vitamin B12?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical that's found in things like coffee, tea, energy drinks and cacao (the fruit that's a precursor to cocoa and chocolate). It acts as a stimulant on your central nervous system to deliver a temporary boost of energy and alertness.

B12, on the other hand, is a vitamin that your body needs for various important functions related to your metabolism and energy levels. It helps make DNA — the genetic material that's in every cell of your body — and plays a crucial role in your immune system and the health of your nerve cells and blood.

The best source of B12 is animal protein — fish, meat, eggs, poultry and dairy. This is why B12 deficiency is sometimes a problem for vegetarians.

So Which One is Better for Energy?

woman at a computer holding white ceramic teacup

When it comes to supplying energy, that's basically caffeine's only "job." It supplies an almost instant energy boost to your nervous system, does it very well, and does it efficiently.

Vitamin B12 is different. B12 doesn't deliver an instant boost unless you're severely deficient in it. And if you were, you'd almost certainly be exhibiting more symptoms than just feeling a little bit sluggish.

That doesn't mean you should write off B12. Getting adequate B12 helps your body consistently and evenly convert the food you eat into energy. So you should definitely be taking steps to ensure you get enough B12 through your diet (or through supplementation if a doctor finds you're not getting enough through the foods you eat).

Bottom line: don't expect B12 to provide the same kind of instant pick me up as caffeine.

B12 vs. Caffeine FAQ

a man reading a book while drinking coffee

Is caffeine a vitamin?

No, caffeine isn’t a vitamin, and you can't be deficient in caffeine. (Granted, it may feel that way before your first cup of morning coffee.) But you can be deficient in B12. Signs of a Vitamin B12 deficiency include anemia and common symptoms of general malaise, like fatigue and weakness.

Is Vitamin B12 the same as caffeine?

No, B12 is not the same thing as caffeine. Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical stimulant, while B12 is a vitamin that helps your body’s cells convert food into energy.

Does B12 have caffeine in it?

Vitamin B12 does not have caffeine in it. They’re two completely different compounds.

Is Vitamin B12 caffeine by another name?

No, Vitamin B12 and caffeine are used for similar reasons, but they otherwise have no relationship to one another.

Does caffeine affect B12 absorption?

This is somewhat of a complex question. Although it can affect the absorption of some B vitamins like thiamine, caffeine doesn't directly impact your body's ability to absorb B12 specifically. That's the short answer.

The longer answer is that it could indirectly affect B12's absorption because of caffeine's diuretic effect. Because caffeine tends to make you urinate more frequently and cause fluid loss, it can deplete levels of water soluble vitamins like B12. But you'd have to be quite dehydrated for that to come into play.

What are the most convenient sources of caffeine and B12?

Besides the obvious things like coffee for caffeine, or a salmon filet for B12 — neither of which are always 100% convenient — you can also find things like disposable vapes with either caffeine or B12 as their main active ingredient.

single box packaging of HELO Air caffeine diffuser on a white surface

Breathe and VitaminVape, for example, feature full lines of vapes with B12, while companies like HealthVape offer Boost, another B12-infused vape option.

On the caffeine side of things, the HELO line features caffeine vapes that come in a variety of flavors like Strawberry Ice, Pink Slush, Banana Ice and more. Give these a try for a more portable, go-anywhere caffeine option. See where to buy caffeine vapes and 4 Best Caffeine Vapes for 2024 for more on this. Want even more options? Check out our list of Best Caffeine Gummies.

B12 vs. Caffeine: The Tale of the Tape

When all is said and done, comparing caffeine and B12 as sources of energy is a little unfair. Caffeine is, in a sense, tailor made to deliver a quick, if temporary, energy boost.

B12 isn't really "designed" for that. Rather, B12 is more of an overall "tonic" that can supply the building blocks your body needs to have more sustained energy over time. The one caveat to this is if you're Vitamin B12 deficient. If you are, taking B12 supplements over an extended period can help replenish this vital nutrient and correct any imbalances. But you’ll have to talk to a doctor to see if that applies to you.

So, if you're looking to stay awake on a long drive, or for a long night of work or study, caffeine is your friend. If you want to prime yourself to be at peak energy levels over the long haul, keep the B12 handy.

And if you want your caffeine in a convenient form that's not a drink, you can always give HELO vapes a try!

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published