If you’ve been looking at healthcare clinics or keeping up with the healthcare industry, you may have seen an increase in adverts for vitamin B12 injections.
Vitamin B12 injections can be prescribed or recommended to treat a vitamin B12 deficiency, especially if the patient has difficulty absorbing B12.
Various health issues are connected to a deficiency in vitamin B12, ranging from fatigue to permanent neurological changes.
Suppose your vitamin B12 levels are low due to a health condition. In that case, you may be recommended oral supplements or vitamin B12 injections, which enable you to absorb the vitamin without going through the digestive system.
Maintaining recommended levels of vitamin B12 is vital. Today, we will look at the benefits and risks associated with vitamin B12 shots.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays a pivotal role in many bodily functions, including:
- DNA Production
- Red Blood Cells
- Nerve Cells
If you have less than the recommended amount of vitamin B12, you may feel tired and weak due to a condition known as ‘megaloblastic anaemia.’
The good news is that vitamin B12 can also be found in many dietary sources, although this may not be enough to top your levels up to an adequate amount of B12. Some of these sources are:
- Dairy Products
- Nutritional Yeast
- Some Fortified Foods
Within animal-based foods, vitamin B12 binds to the protein molecules, and during digestion, your stomach acid causes it to separate from these proteins. Your body then uses a substance known as an ‘intrinsic factor,’ which allows your bloodstream to absorb it.
However, many people’s bodies cannot produce enough stomach acid or intrinsic factors, especially if they have an autoimmune condition known as ‘atrophic gastritis.’ These patients may require vitamin B12 shots to reduce their risk of deficiency.
Other patients who may require B12 injections include those who have previously undergone gastrointestinal surgery, as their bodies may not be able to absorb vitamin B12 properly.
How much vitamin B12 do I need?
According to the RDA, the minimum daily amount of vitamin B12 that most healthy people require relates to their specific needs:
- 0–6 months = 0.4 micrograms (mcg)
- 7–12 months = 0.5 mcg
- 1–3 years = 0.9 mcg
- 4–8 years = 1.2 mcg
- 9–13 years = 1.8 mcg
- 14+ years = 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant people = 2.6 mcg
- People who breastfeed = 2.8 mcg
However, these are just guidelines, and a doctor may advise on an individual’s specific requirements.
What are vitamin B12 shots?
Vitamin B12 shots contain a synthetic version of vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin. They are injected into the muscle, as patients may lose a high amount of B12 when urinating if injected into their veins.
Signs and Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency
Several signs and symptoms could indicate that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Difficulty Thinking and Remembering
- Heart Palpitations
- Pale Skin
- Weight Loss
- Numbness and Tingling In The Hands And Feet
- Mood Changes
- A Sore Tongue
- Low Appetite
Suppose you find you have any of these symptoms. In that case, it’s always a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor to get this checked out, as it could indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency or another underlying health concern.
Vitamin B12 deficiency risk factors
Many factors increase your risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency. Should you fall into the below categories, it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on any symptoms and get yourself tested for a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Risk factors can include:
- High alcohol consumption
- Higher age bracket
- Pernicious Anaemia
- Atrophic Gastritis refers to inflammation in the stomach
- Helicobacter Pylori infection
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- A history of gastrointestinal surgery
- Following a plant-based diet
- Pancreatic insufficiency
- Some hereditary conditions that affect Vitamin B12 absorption
- People with gastrointestinal issues
Some specific conditions can affect your gastrointestinal tract, which also may affect vitamin B12 release or absorption, including:
- Pernicious Anaemia, which can lead to gastric atrophy, or damage to the stomach
- Fish tapeworm infestation
- Bowel or pancreatic cancer
- Folic acid deficiency
- Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
As mentioned above, those who have undergone gastrointestinal surgery may also have fewer cells necessary to secrete stomach acid and intrinsic factors, which will affect B12 absorption.
Benefits Of Vitamin B12 Injections
The benefits of getting a vitamin B12 injection include reducing your risk of the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Neurological disorders
- Problems with thinking and memory
- Vision loss
- Neural tube defects in children born to those with a vitamin B12 deficiency
Well, suppose you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned earlier in this article. In that case, getting yourself a doctor’s appointment and having a quick blood test to rule out a vitamin B12 injection is worthwhile.
If you find you need a vitamin B12 injection, many private clinics provide the service for you. So, you won’t have to wait for a referral, and you should start to see an improvement in your symptoms quickly.