Does B12 Help With Altitude Sickness?

Does B12 Help With Altitude Sickness

Does b12 help with altitude sickness? If you're looking for the best way to beat altitude sickness, we've done lot of research on vitamins and will share with you everything to know about if vitamin B12 helps with altitude sickness.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin or methylcobalamin, is a vitamin that the body needs to function properly. 

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the production of red blood cells, blood formation, and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.¹ It's also essential for the body to make DNA, and plays part of a role in making glutathione along with vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B6.²

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia including headaches, breathlessness, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, lack of energy, and feeling faint.³ Some of these symptoms happen to be similar to altitude sickness.

But does B12 help with altitude sickness or altitude adjustment? We'll dive in deeper to reveal if this vital vitamin can assist in high altitude trips.

Does B12 Help With Altitude Sickness?

Does vitamin B12 help with altitude sickness? The answer to this question is a bit complicated.

Vitamin B12 contains cobalt, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells. One of the main causes of altitude sickness because of the lower oxygen levels causing hypoxia, and therefore the more red blood cells you need to carry oxygen through your body.

Hypothetically this would indicate that vitamin B12 helps altitude sickness. However, we found very little scientific evidence or studies correlating B12 for altitude sickness.

Here is the only research with found on B12 for altitude sickness or high altitudes:

1. High Altitude Decreases B12 Levels

A study on Indian solders during long high altitude stays found a significant decrease in vitamin B12 levels (and B9 folate levels).

2. B12 Lowered High Altitude Stroke Risk

That same study found vitamin B supplementation, including B12, lowered the rate of strokes (thrombosis) over 2 years at high altitudes.⁴,⁵ During prolonged high altitude exposure, stroke risk was found to be 30 times higher.⁴

While there's evidence over long periods of time that vitamin B12 declines due to high altitudes, there isn’t any scientific evidence that taking B12 supplements can help prevent altitude sickness. We don’t know if it works or not because there haven’t been any proper studies done on it yet.

In conclusion on vitamin B12 for altitude sickness — supplementing B12 can help replenish lost levels due to high altitudes and assist in the the production of red blood cells, but there's not significant enough evidence to show how much it might help with altitude sickness.

Dangers of Vitamin B12

If you're going to supplement vitamin B12 for altitude sickness, stay away from synthetic vitamins.

Most supplements on the market, including Liquid IV, use a synthetic form of B12 called cyanocobalamin which is not good for the body. 

First, being synthetic, cyanocobalamin will not readily absorb or be bioavailable like natural sources of B12. Second, cyanocobalamin is made with cyanide, and is considered a toxic chemical.

Only supplement natural forms of vitamin B12, including cobalamin or methylcobalamin.

Folate (B9) For Altitude Sickness

It's important to point out that based on the research we did, folate has a similar relation to high altitudes and helping red blood cells.

Folate, also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, is need for red blood cell production just like vitamin B12. And folate was shown in research to decrease in higher altitudes.⁴

Here is the only research with found on Folate for altitude sickness or high altitudes:

  • A study on Tibetans showed folate levels to decrease with each 500 feet increase in altitude.⁴
  • Tibetans, who live at high altitudes, were found to have the DNA gene variant MTHFR which boosts the body's production ability of the folate vitamin.⁶

While similar to vitamin B12, there's no concrete evidence that folate helps with altitude sickness, it plays a key role in the production of red blood cells which carries oxygen and is shown to decrease in high altitudes.

Therefore, if you're going to supplement B12 for altitude sickness, we'd recommend adding folate (B9) as a B complex so you're getting both these key vitamins.

Dangers of B9 (folic acid): If supplementing folate, do not using synthetic vitamins for B9. Avoid folic acid. Use folate, or naturally derived vitamin B9 in products like Zaca that contain naturally occurring folate found in Prickly Pear.⁷

IV For Altitude Sickness (With Vitamin B)

If you have altitude sickness and are experiencing severe symptoms, you may look into an IV for altitude sickness, or intravenous fluid drip.

Some science supports the use of B vitamins for altitude sickness — and we found that most IV's for altitude sickness contain a mixture of B vitamins including B12, and glutathione.

Locally in Colorado, both Rocky Mountain IV Medics and ONUSiV offers an altitude sickness IV containing B complex and glutathione.¹², ¹³

IV's are popularly used to help with energy, nausea, and headache — and if your budget supports it at between $100 - $300 per dose, it's an alternative to supplements with fast results.

What Causes Altitude Sickness?

Many people experience altitude sickness when they travel to areas at higher altitudes than they are accustomed to. Altitude sickness can be a problem for people traveling to high altitudes — such as skiers, hikers, mountain climbers, and vacationers.

Altitude sickness is caused by lower oxygen levels. The human body needs oxygen to function properly, and the higher the altitude, the less oxygen there is in the air. This condition is known as hypoxia, where these's low levels of oxygen in the body, cells, and tissues.

Altitude sickness can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting and confusion. Symptoms usually develop within 24 hour upon arrival at high altitudes.

The most common symptoms of altitude sickness are:

  • headache
  • vomiting and nausea
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • sleep disturbance

Vitamins, such as B12 or other types of B complex, may help your body replenish your levels when dealing with altitude sickness.

What Vitamins Help With Altitude Sickness?

There are some vitamins, herbs, and amino acids that can help with altitude sickness — including antioxidants, glutathione, and B vitamins.

While B12 and B9 may help, here's a full list of vitamins that may help with altitude sickness:

  • Vitamin B12 - While no concrete evidence shows vitamin B12 to prevent altitude sickness, it is found to decrease in high altitudes. Supplementing can help replenish your B12 levels.⁴
  • Folate (Vitamin B9) - Just like B12, folate was found to decrease with the increase in altitudes. You can replenish folate as well via supplementation. 
  • Glutathione - Glutathione was shown to deplete in the body at high altitudes up to 45%.⁸ Considered the mother of all antioxidants, you can supplement glutathione to replenish your levels.
  • DHM - Derived from the long cherished Japanese Raisin, this flavonoid has been shown to improve high altitude physical performance.⁹
  • Ginkgo Biloba - Ginkgo Biloba was found to lower occurrence of altitude sickness partially due to increased saturation of arterial oxygen.¹¹ 
  • Glutamine - This powerful amino acid was proven to improve mood and cognition during hypoxia — which is low oxygen levels at high altitudes.¹⁰

The synergistic benefits of these ingredients, backed by science, can have powerful results when taken for high altitudes.

Top Rated Altitude Supplement

Altitude Supplement B12
Zaca is a delicious chewable tablet containing only the most effective and natural ingredients — used by climbers, skiers, athletes, and travelers. Made with naturally occurring vitamins like B9 found in Prickly Pear, DHM-containing Japanese Raisin, Glutathione, and Glutamine. This fast-acting chewables helps the body rehydrate, replenish, and recover. Take 2-4 chewables a day while traveling. Try Zaca Chewable Supplement today and power your mountain trips.



1. Vitamin B12 Mayo Clinic
2. Phytonutrients and Dietary Supplements to Support Glutathione​ Status​
3. Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia
4. The association between altitude and serum folate levels in Tibetan adults on the Tibetan plateau
5. Effectiveness of homocysteine lowering vitamins in prevention of thrombotic tendency at high altitude area: A randomized field trial
6. Mutations may reveal how Tibetans can live on world's highest plateau
7. Prickly Pears And Folate,1533/
 8. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
 9. Dihydromyricetin Improves Physical Performance under Simulated High Altitude
 10. The Possible Importance of Glutamine Supplementation to Mood and Cognition in Hypoxia from High Altitude
11. Ginkgo biloba decreases acute mountain sickness in people ascending to high altitude at Ollagüe (3696 m) in northern Chile
12. IV Therapy for Altitude Sickness in Colorado
13. Bolt IV For Fatigue and Altitude Sickness.