Vitamin supplements are very popular. People often believe they’ll act as a safety net and help to ensure adequate nutrient intake. Supplementing with vitamin B12 is particularly common, because deficiency is widespread. In fact, many people regularly get injections with vitamin B12. These are claimed to help with energy levels, brain function and weight loss, to name a few.
WHAT IS VITAMIN B12 AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin. It plays a vital role in brain function and the production of DNA and red blood cells. Chemically, vitamin B12 can exist in a number of different forms, but all of them contain the mineral cobalt. The vitamin can be stored in the liver for a long time, so it may take a few years for a deficiency to develop.
MANY PEOPLE ARE DEFICIENT
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin B12 is 6 micrograms per day. Deficiency is common, especially in people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. In fact, it’s thought that up to 90% of people following these diets have a deficiency. This is because B12 is only found naturally in animal foods. However, vegans and vegetarians are not the only ones who are deficient. Even some meat eaters don’t absorb it very well.Unlike other vitamins, the absorption of vitamin B12 depends on a protein produced in your stomach, intrinsic factor. Intrinsic factor binds to Vitamin B12, so that you can absorb it into the blood. People who don’t produce enough intrinsic factor can become deficient. Deficiency is particularly common in elderly people, because the ability to absorb vitamin B12 can decrease with age.
Other people at risk of deficiency include those who have had intestinal surgery, including weight loss surgery. Those with diseases that affect the gut, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease,are also at risk.
VITAMIN B12 SHOTS ARE VERY EFFECTIVE
An untreated vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems or pernicious anemia, which occurs when your body doesn’t have enough B12 to produce the amount of red blood cells it needs. Vitamin B12 shots are the most common way to prevent or treat a deficiency. The injections are prescribed by a doctor and given intramuscularly, or into muscle. Injections are usually given as hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin. These are very effective at raising blood levels of B12 and preventing/reversing a deficiency.
POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Given the vital roles that vitamin B12 plays in your body, a deficiency can have serious health consequences. In fact, low blood levels of the vitamin have been linked to several health problems.
Since the majority of vitamin B12 deficiency diseases have something to do with absorption disorders, injections are the most reliable way of ensuring a supply of this important vitamin: the active ingredient in vitamin B12 shots goes directly into the muscle and thus finds its way into the blood without needing to take the uncertain route through the digestive tract.
After a long deficiency, vitamin B12 shots are particularly useful as they are the most reliable means of quickly replenishing the body’s B12 store and breaking the vicious circle of deficiency. Injections are therefore the method of choice for initial therapy.