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Open AccessArticle

Vitamin B12 Status and Optimal Range for Hemoglobin Formation in Elite Athletes

National Centre for Sports Medicine, Żwirki i Wigury 63A, 02-091 Warsaw, Poland
Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Adolfa Pawińskiego 5, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland
Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacogenomics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Medical University of Warsaw, Banacha 1, 02-097 Warsaw, Poland
Institute of Metrology and Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Mechatronics, Warsaw University of Technology, św. Andrzeja Boboli 8, 02-525 Warsaw, Poland
Department of Sports Medicine and Human Nutrition, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Physical Education in Krakow, al. Jana Pawła II 78, 31-571 Kraków, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 1038;
Received: 4 March 2020 / Revised: 2 April 2020 / Accepted: 3 April 2020 / Published: 9 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Sports Nutrition)
Background: Athletes and coaches believe in the ergogenic effect of vitamin B12 (which results from enhanced erythropoiesis) and they often insist on its unjustified supplementation. Therefore, our study aimed to assess the vitamin B12 status in Polish elite athletes and its influence on red blood cell parameters. Methods: In total, 1131 blood samples were collected during six years from 243 track and field athletes divided into strength and endurance groups, as well as according to the declared use of vitamin B12 injections. Results: An average vitamin B12 concentration in all subjects was 739 ± 13 pg/mL, with no cases of deficiency. A weak but significant relationship was found between vitamin B12 and hemoglobin concentrations. A significant increase in hemoglobin appeared from very low vitamin B12 concentration and up to approx. 400 pg/mL, while hemoglobin did not significantly change from 700 pg/mL and onwards. Vitamin B12 injections were used by 34% of athletes, significantly more often by endurance than by strength athletes. In athletes who declared no use of injections, a higher concentration of vitamin B12 was observed in the endurance group. Conclusion: The main finding of the present study is the determination of the range of vitamin B12 concentration which may favor better hemoglobin synthesis in athletes. They should regularly monitor vitamin B12 concentration and maintain the range of 400–700 pg/mL as it may improve red blood cell parameters. We might suggest application of a supplementation if necessary. Special attention is required in athletes with a vitamin B12 concentration below 400 pg/mL. View Full-Text
Keywords: vitamin B12 status; athletes; hemoglobin; vitamin B12 threshold; injections vitamin B12 status; athletes; hemoglobin; vitamin B12 threshold; injections
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Krzywański, J.; Mikulski, T.; Pokrywka, A.; Młyńczak, M.; Krysztofiak, H.; Frączek, B.; Ziemba, A. Vitamin B12 Status and Optimal Range for Hemoglobin Formation in Elite Athletes. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1038.

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