What you need to know about coffee and vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common in people over 60 years of age as the ability of the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food decreases with age. However, deficiency also appears in younger age groups, especially if animal-based foods are avoided as this is where the majority of B12 is found.

Naturally, people who are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency wonder whether there is something they can do to help their bodies absorb vitamin B12 better. Or, maybe there are certain things that should be avoided, for example, drinking too much coffee?

If you are a coffee addict and are worried that this will affect your body’s vitamin B12 stores or absorption, in this article you will learn everything you need to know about coffee and vitamin B12.

Does coffee have vitamin B12?

First of all, let’s clarify whether there is any vitamin B12 in coffee, as some people may wonder.

Coffee contains small amounts of certain vitamins, most notably B3 (niacin). It also contains other B vitamins, including B12 but in very small amounts.

So, if you were hoping to get some vitamin B12 from coffee, we must disappoint you. It’s better to get vitamin B12 from food sources or supplements.

Does coffee deplete the body of vitamin B12?

There are not many studies investigating the effects of coffee consumption on levels of vitamin B12 in the body and most of them conclude that there is no association between heavy coffee consumption and decreased vitamin B12 levels. However, a few studies didn’t come to the same conclusions.

A cross-sectional study of young male students conducted in Amman, Jordan, over 4 months discovered there was no significant difference in serum levels of vitamin B12 between moderate and heavy coffee consumers.

Another cross-sectional study investigated the effect of body weight and coffee consumption on leptin, vitamin B12, and folic acid in the body. Again, the participants were young adult males. The results showed that coffee consumption had no significant effect on vitamin B12 levels.

A randomized controlled trial in healthy volunteers published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also showed that heavy coffee drinking did not affect vitamin B12 levels circulating in the body.

Some studies have, however, found a negative association between coffee drinking and vitamin B12 levels. One such study was conducted in Denmark and the participants were aged 30-60 years. These individuals filled in a questionnaire about their lifestyle and had their B12 concentrations measured (along with serum folate). Low serum vitamin B12 was more common in females and heavy coffee drinkers. This does not prove that coffee causes B12 deficiency but it’s certainly interesting information that should be investigated.

Another study concluded that coffee has a negative effect on B-vitamin concentrations in the body. In this study, healthy middle-aged Norwegian men and women were investigated. It was discovered that heavy coffee drinkers had lower levels of B vitamins compared to coffee abstainers. The final conclusions were that coffee consumption may increase the loss of surplus B-vitamins by excretion in urine.

Whether coffee depletes vitamin B12 or not is not very clear from the existing studies. There is conflicting evidence, therefore more studies are needed to investigate this subject.

Does coffee block vitamin B12 absorption?

Coffee contains caffeine and it is well known that caffeine interferes with the absorption of nutrients in the body, including B vitamins. However, when it comes to B12 specifically, it seems that caffeine actually helps with absorption as it increases stomach acid secretion.