Vitamin B12 Shots (or Cobalamin shots) provide an essential nutrient for your body. B12 has a range of functions within the body, so not reaching your daily requirement could impact various aspects of your health and performance. Since it can be difficult to reach adequate levels of some vitamins through diet alone, supplements can be an effective addition. Supplements can come in many forms such as pills, powders, liquids, gels, and the increasingly popular vitamin shots. Let's review vitamin B12 and then explore ways you can easily increase your intake to reach optimal levels.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. The vitamin itself is not synthesized in plants or humans but rather by microorganisms. The major source of vitamin B12 for humans is found in animal products.
The most common way of introducing vitamin B12 to the body is by eating it. The cobalamin is digested by the stomach and absorbed into the body through the small intestines. In animal-based foods, vitamin B12 is bound to protein molecules. It is separated from the protein molecules in the stomach's acidic environment. Your stomach lining produces a protein called "intrinsic factor," which binds with the vitamin to allow it to pass to the small intestine where it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Some people do not naturally produce enough intrinsic factor or stomach acid to experience optimal B12 intake. When this occurs, it can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. Some of the signs of B12 deficiency include low energy, chronic fatigue, slow metabolism, hair loss, and many other health issues.
Impact of Vitamin B12 in the body
Cobalamin is involved in two major systems within the human body that are essential to your health.
1) The production of blood cells
2) The maintenance of your nervous system
Vitamin B12 is essential for the normal production of red and white blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues in our body, while white blood cells protect the body from infection by removing materials that should not be present, including pathogens. They also produce antibodies, making them an integral part of your immune system. When blood cell production is impaired by vitamin B12 deficiency, the immune system is weakened.
Maintenance of the nervous system is also critical to your health. A slight deficiency won't cause severe problems, but it will slow you down and impair your alertness and ability to concentrate. Vitamin B12 is also an essential vitamin in the normal development of the nervous system in fetuses, making it extra important in pregnant women
Many people don't know that vitamin B12 is required for the normal use of another extremely important vitamin, vitamin B9 (folic acid). A decrease in vitamin B12 levels also leads to a decrease in folic acid.
Vitamin B12 Sources
Vitamin B12 can be found in a variety of sources. Common sources include meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and fortified breakfast cereals. However, almost all vitamin B12 sources are animal-based, which means that people who practice veganism, vegetarianism, or have dietary restrictions, are more likely to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is advisable to use vitamin supplements or multivitamins to protect against a deficiency.
Recommended daily value of Vitamin B12
The recommended daily value of vitamin B12, like any other nutrient, varies from person to person. It depends on the person's gender, age, weight, and any preexisting conditions. The requirement is also different for pregnant women. Due to the higher risk of food-bound vitamin B12 malabsorption in older adults, it is recommended that adults over 50 years of age added to their RDA of B12 with fortified food or vitamin B12 supplements.
Can you get Vitamin B12 toxicity by consuming too many supplements?
Current research shows that vitamin B12 is not toxic, even at higher levels. As vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, any excess in your body is excreted.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
There are various levels of deficiency of vitamin B12 so signs and symptoms vary.. To understand the problem more fully, let's look at what can cause vitamin B12 deficiency and the signs and symptoms of differing deficiency levels.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
One of the primary causes of vitamin B12 deficiency is the dietary habits of an individual. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products, and anyone practicing a vegan or a vegetarian lifestyle is more prone to be deficient.
Another cause of B12 deficiency can be a dysfunction in the absorption process. If there is reduced gastric acid production or deficient quantities of intrinsic factor, it is common to develop a deficiency. Atrophic gastritis can cause inflammation of the stomach, which leads to lower gastric acid production. Absorption dysfunction is also commonly seen in adults over the age of 50.
If you've been subject to an ileal resection (wherein a small part of the small intestine is removed), there is less opportunity for your body to absorb the vitamin into the bloodstream.
Even seemingly healthy people can sometimes develop a deficiency, especially if they don't pay enough attention to their diet.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The signs and symptoms of the deficiency are highly dependent on how long the individual has been deficient and how severe the deficiency is.
In the earlier stages, the deficiency may manifest as simple fatigue, mood changes, and difficulty thinking and concentrating. Later on, if the person becomes highly deficient, they may become anemic. Anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency is known as pernicious anemia, a severe condition that can lead to a sore tongue, weight loss, increased breathlessness, heart palpitations, and changes in bowel habits.
Pernicious anemia patients have weakened immune systems due to abnormal white blood cell production. This condition is easily reversible by giving the patient vitamin B12 shots and/or supplements.
One symptom that would cause most doctors to check your vitamin B12 levels is paresthesia in the hands and feet. Paresthesia is a numbness or tingling feeling often described as "pins and needles," which might be felt in the evening and the morning when trying to drift off to sleep or waking up.
Vitamin B12 shots: Who needs shots and who needs supplements?
Cyanocobalamin is the main form of vitamin B12 used in oral supplements, but methylcobalamin is also available as a supplement. Vitamin B12 shots are mostly recommended to patients with severe deficiency and those who develop pernicious anemia. Otherwise, most people are recommended oral supplements if they cannot change their dietary habits.
Those with allergies or medical conditions should always inform a doctor before receiving a vitamin B12 shot. Vitamin B12 shots may also not be suitable for people with a history of sensitivity to vitamin B12, Leber's disease, renal problems, hypokalemia, low potassium levels, and deficiencies in other nutrients, particularly folic acid and iron.
The dosage of vitamin B12 in supplements or in shot form varies for each person and can be determined by a doctor or dietitian.
Risks of Vitamin B12 shots
There is currently no evidence of vitamin B12 toxicity or overdose in healthy adults. However, there can be some adverse reactions to the injection. These may include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site.
Side effects are generally rare, but an allergic reaction can occur. In case of difficulty breathing or other signs of an allergic reaction following the injection, visit a doctor immediately.
Benefits of Vitamin B12 shots and supplements
Vitamin B12 injections are very useful in quickly reversing effects of B12 deficiency. They also have other benefits, including healthy hair, more energy, and an overall stronger immune system. Oral supplements work wonders for people with slight deficiency and can quickly bring them back to their healthy, active, and focused state. Vitamin B12 supplements can also improve your mood. Important note: Supplements in pill and tablet form are not the most effective way to get your vitamins and improve your B12 levels. Instead, try a new form called a MICROGEL™, which is an ingestible gel.
The BioActive Multi Supplement by Healthycell is a great choice for anyone looking for the most effective vitamin and essential nutrient delivery system. Its clinically-proven MICROGEL delivery system offers 165% more absorption than a tablet, allowing your cells to absorb the supplement more effectively. It contains 100% of your daily B12 vitamin needs and other essential micronutrients (including minerals) like vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E.
If you have a known deficiency, or eat a diet low in animal products, then try Healthycell's Vegan Essentials – the essential one-a-day multivitamin for plant-based diets. Expertly formulated by physicians and nutritionists, Vegan Essentials contains a broad spectrum of essential vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients specifically needed in vegan diets to support your brain, muscles, strong bones, shiny hair, vibrant skin, healthy nails, immunity, and boost energy.
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