Is B12 Injection Therapy for You?
Over the last several years, vitamin B12 injections have become popular among healthy people who do not appear to have a deficiency. Advocates claim that regular injections can boost energy levels and help with weight loss and mood, yet most health professionals say little evidence supports these claims. Thus, it is important to understand who should consider using a B12 vitamin shot to their advantage.
What is Vitamin B12?
This essential water-soluble vitamin plays a role in many bodily functions, including the production of DNA, red blood cells, and nerve cells. It also helps the body convert food into glucose, giving you the energy you need to get through the day.
Where We Get Vitamin B12
Your body needs vitamin B12 to function properly but cannot make it on its own. Thankfully, this vitamin occurs naturally in many animal foods, e.g., beef liver, eggs, clams, red meat, fish, poultry, nutritional yeast, milk and other dairy products. Certain fortified foods like cereal contain B12 as an additive.
The human liver stores enough vitamin B12 in the body to last for up to two years in most cases. Therefore, most Americans have more than enough vitamin B12 in their systems and do not need to worry about increasing their B12 levels. However, those with a higher risk of not getting enough B12 are vegetarians and vegans, as they get little to no B12 from their diet.
In animal-based foods, vitamin B12 binds to the protein molecules. During digestion, stomach acid causes it to separate from the protein, and a substance called intrinsic factor enables the bloodstream to absorb it.
However, some people struggle to absorb the vitamin B12 that they take in through their diets. Unlike other vitamins, the absorption of vitamin B12 depends on a protein produced in the stomach called intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor binds to vitamin B12 so that you can absorb it into the blood. Those who don't produce enough intrinsic factor can become deficient. Older adults over 50 in particular, tend to deal with issues regarding their bodies absorbing the proper amount of vitamin B12. Other factors that can put people at a greater risk of suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency include those who smoke, abuse alcohol, or have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Knowing your vitamin B12 level is essential, as a deficiency can have serious health consequences that can affect brain function and cause neurological problems. Common signs and symptoms include the following:
- Cognitive issues, especially those that deal with memory
- Extreme fatigue
- Frequent headaches
- Problems with maintaining balance
- Changes in vision
- Megaloblastic anemia
- Heart palpitations
- Pale skin
- Weight loss
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- A sore tongue
- Low appetite
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Risk Factors
You have a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency if you have specific health problems. Those with conditions that affect the gut like Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and certain cancers can increase your risk. Some prescription medications like antacids and drugs for Type 2 diabetes can increase your risk. While an oral supplement may work for some people, individuals with these conditions cannot properly absorb vitamin B12 and can benefit from vitamin B12 injections. Other conditions that increase your risk include:
- Atrophic gastritis ( a type of stomach inflammation)
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- Gastrointestinal procedures, including weight loss surgery
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Hereditary conditions affecting vitamin B12 absorption
Potential Health Benefits
Raising blood levels of Vitamin B12 in those with a deficiency can provide several health benefits and help you avoid serious health consequences. Low levels have been linked to several issues, including a decline in brain function and a possible link to depression. However, higher-quality studies are necessary to prove these links.
Vitamin B12 deficiency may also play a role in bone health. Low levels have been linked with reduced bone mass in women with osteoporosis, leading to the theory that taking the vitamin may reduce your risk.
Eye health may also benefit from Vitamin B12. Older adults may benefit from getting enough of the vitamin as it appears to play a vital role in maintaining good central vision and protecting against age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin B12 Injection FAQs
Can B12 deficiency symptoms point to other health issues?
Some symptoms, including fatigue and memory loss, can indicate other conditions such as a thyroid disorder. That’s why it is important to talk to your physician before self diagnosing. In most cases Dr. Kaur can perform a blood test to tell you exactly where your vitamin B12 blood levels stand.
What are the options for Vitamin B12 treatment?
Options for B12 treatment include injections, patches and pills. With oral supplements, there can be sourcing and quality issues. Patches can cause local irritation or have insufficient absorption and may also fall off or look unsightly.
What’s the Procedure Like?
If you do not have a problem with shots in general, getting vitamin injections is quick and easy. Vitamin B12 is injected like any other shot in the upper arm/ deltoid muscle.
How Much Vitamin B12 Do I Require?
In general, your daily requirement increases as you get older. In addition, pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding also require higher amounts. If a person is genuinely deficient, we will likely prescribe weekly injections weekly until your red blood cells increase to a sufficient level. Aftward, you will receive monthly maintenance shots. The amount of Vitamin B12 administered depends on your unique situation.
What are the potential side effects?
B12 injections are considered very safe and often have no side effects. Some patients experience mild redness, swelling, or bruising at the injection site, but these side effects typically dissipate quickly. If you have an allergy to cobalt, chronic liver disease, kidney disease, or any type of infection, please inform Dr. Kaur during your consultation, as you may not be an ideal candidate for B12 injections. In addition, certain medications can reduce the absorption (and therefore the benefits) associated with B12.
Improve Your Vitamin B12 Levels Today
Now that you know why Vitamin B12 is so essential, its health benefits, and which form is the best, are you ready to add a B12 supplement to your routine?
Call VIVAA at 425-250-9999 for more information on the suitability of a Vitamin B12 injection.