Albuquerque, NM - Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a downer, physically and psychologically. Here’s why Vitamin B12 shots can potentially benefit you.
The prevalence of low Vitamin B12 is high among people who are between 26- to 49 year-olds. Vitamin B12 deficiency is treatable.
You may take Vitamin B12 supplements by mouth. Vitamin B12 injections or shots are also useful in treating Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 shots boost Vitamin B12 quickly. It bypasses the digestive system and goes directly into your tissues. It works for people who are unresponsive to oral supplements and severely deficient.
A lack of Vitamin B12 can cause many health problems. It affects your heart, physical performance, and cognitive functions. This blog shares with you the importance of Vitamin B12
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin, is a naturally occurring water-soluble vitamin. It’s essential in energy and red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and proper nerve and neurological function.
Protein-rich foods such as eggs, meats, and dairy contain Vitamin B12. It’s not present in vegetables, but breakfast cereals can be fortified with it. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends a daily intake of 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 for adults and children four years and older.
It comes in various forms. The natural-occurring B12 vitamins are methylcobalamin (MeCbl), adenosylcobalamin (AdCbl), and hydroxycobalamin (Cbl). These bioidentical forms can be found in foods and supplements. The synthetic form, cyanocobalamin is found in supplements. A study reveals that bioidentical forms are superior in safety and bioavailability than cyanocobalamin.
Vitamin B12, specifically MeCbl in combination with AdCbl or Cbl, corrects B12 deficiency. Clinical evidence shows it’s effective as a supplement given by mouth or injection. Another study suggests methylcobalamin as a potential pain killer. It improves nerve conduction and helps in regrowing damaged nerves. The researchers of the study noted methylcobalamin alleviated low back pain, neuralgia, and diabetic neuropathy.
What are the Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
An autoimmune condition, malabsorption, or insufficient intake of Vitamin B12 can cause a deficiency
Pernicious anemia is a type of megaloblastic anemia. It’s a blood disorder characterized by the lack of intrinsic factor. A protein, intrinsic factor aids your intestines to absorb Vitamin B12. With a lack of intrinsic factor, the intestines can’t get enough Vitamin B12. The body can’t produce enough red blood cells because there isn’t enough Vitamin B12. It affects 1% to 2% of adults.
Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders can’t absorb enough Vitamin B12. Gastrointestinal disorders include Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and infestation from a tapeworm or Diphyllobothrium latum. Older adults and people who have undergone weight loss or gastrointestinal surgery are also at risk.
Insufficient intake of Vitamin B12
It happens among vegetarians and strict vegans. People who eat all plant-based food may lack the recommended intake of Vitamin B12. Researchers published a cohort study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study reveals vegetarians and vegans have low concentrations of Vitamin B12.
What are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency ?
The prevalence rate of Vitamin B12 deficiency ranges from 1.5% to 15% in the general population. Symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Numbness and tingling of hands and feet
- Neuropsychiatric: Confusion, depression, dementia, and poor memory
Six Potential Benefits of Vitamin B12
1. Prevents anemia
High-dose Vitamin B12 taken by mouth or injected intramuscularly are effective in correcting anemia related to B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 helps prevent megaloblastic anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is acquired due to a lack of Vitamin B12.
Huge red blood cells characterize megaloblastic anemia, but fewer red blood cells appear. Due to its size, it can’t move out of the bone marrow into the bloodstream. When this happens, there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the parts of your body. You feel weak or tired as a result.
2. Prevents congenital disabilities
Lack of Vitamin B12 to women and their fetus, have detrimental effects. Women may experience infertility and abortions due to Vitamin B12 deficiency. For pregnant women, it may cause a risk of birth defects and preterm birth.
Researchers found low levels of Vitamin B12 were evident among mothers of children with neural tube defects. Vitamin B12 levels of <250 ng/L may pose three times the risk of birth defects. Women who want to become pregnant should have concentrations of Vitamin B12 >300 ng/L to 400 ng/L.
3. Improves mood and depressive symptoms
Vitamin B12 aids in synthesizing serotonin chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. A lack of Vitamin B12 may decrease serotonin, which results in mood disorders such as depression.
Management of depression may include Vitamin B12. A study reveals Vitamin B12 with antidepressants improved depressive symptoms.
4. May reduce risk of neurological disorders
There have been studies conducted that dispel claims that Vitamin B12 improves cognitive function. Researchers need to complete further studies to have adequate evidence to support it.
However, some studies reveal otherwise. Some research studies linked anorexia, apathy, irritability, growth retardation, and developmental regression as Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms. The study cited that Vitamin B12 is essential in keeping the brain healthy.
Vitamin B12 supplements may prevent damage to the nervous system, which leads to mental decline and disorders. Among people with mild cognitive impairment, Vitamin B12 with omega-3 fatty acid may slow the decline. The rate of brain deterioration also declines with Vitamin B12 plus folate.
Low levels of Vitamin B12 are associated with poor memory. A study suggests that Vitamin B12 supplementation may improve memory function.
5. Boosts energy and fights fatigue
A study shows that Vitamin B12 deficiency affects physical performance. Vitamin B12 supplementation corrects it. However, athletes with a well-balanced diet won’t benefit from it because they already have sufficient amounts.
A 2020 review shows vitamins and minerals play a vital role in energy, fatigue, and cognition. It includes B vitamins. According to the researchers, vitamins and minerals are needed for energy production.
Moreover, vitamins and minerals aid in carrying oxygen to the brain and muscles through red blood cells. Note that iron and B vitamins play a critical role in the development of red blood cells.
6. Supports immune system
Vitamin B12 plays a role in the regulation of the immune system. However, the exact mechanism is still unclear. Researchers conducted a study among people with Vitamin B12 deficiency.
They found that the Vitamin B12 deficient participants had decreased lymphocytes. They also exhibited abnormally high CD4/CD8 ratios and low Natural Killer (NK) cell activity. CD4/CD8 and NK lymphocytes are vital in fighting bacteria and viruses. Any changes in the ratio of lymphocytes may increase your risk of catching infections.
The study reveals Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) injection therapy restored lymphocytes. Vitamin B12 shots also improved CD4/CD8 T cell ratio and NK cell activity. It highlights Vitamin B12 as an “immunomodulator for cellular immunity.”
How Long Do Vitamin B12 Shots Last?
The effects depend on how your body reacts to the Vitamin B12 shots. These shots are absorbed rapidly within 48 hours after injection. At this time, about 50% to 98% of the dose may appear in your urine.
A severely deficient person may get five to seven B12 shots in the first week of therapy. Once Vitamin B12 levels become normal, Vitamin B12 shots should be given at least every three months to prevent relapse. Most patients prefer a weekly shot for the most energy.
Vitamin B12 may be stored in your body for 3 to 5 years. . Depending on your lifestyle and health condition, your Vitamin B12 level fluctuates. A liver disorder may affect Vitamin B12 storage since Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver. Liver disorders include ascites, cholestasis, hepatic encephalopathy, jaundice, and portal hypertension.
What are the Potential Side Effects of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 shots are safe, effective, and well-tolerated for preventing or correcting a deficiency. You may experience pain or redness at the injection site as a temporary discomfort. There’s no risk for toxicity except if you have a kidney problem. You can pass it out of your body through urination since it is water-soluble.
In general, other side effects are mild diarrhea or itching all over your body. People must be cautious if they have allergies, medical conditions and are taking medication. Vitamin B12 shots may affect people with the following conditions:
- Cobalamin or cobalt allergy
- Kidney disease
- Leber’s disease (an eye disorder)
- Low potassium levels (hypokalemia)
- Polycythemia vera (rare blood disorder)
Vitamin B12 interacts with other medications:
- Antibiotics, such as Chloramphenicol, may interfere with red blood cell response.
- Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid is linked to low Vitamin B12 levels. A study shows people who took aspirin were more frequently Vitamin B12 deficient than non-takers.
- Histamine H2 receptor antagonists include cimetidine, famotidine, and ranitidine, which may interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B12 in the stomach.
- Metformin may reduce the absorption of Vitamin B12. A study suggests that 10-30% of people who take metformin have decreased absorption.
- Oral contraceptives are associated with low Vitamin B12 levels. Researchers found that women using oral contraceptives had significantly lower Vitamin B12 than usual in a case-control study.
- Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, may slow down Vitamin B12 in the stomach.