What is vitamin B-12?
Vitamin B-12 can be taken in the form of injections. Vitamin B-12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many functions in the body, including:
- DNA synthesis
- Energy production
- Nerve cell health
- Red blood cell formation
- Neurological function
B-12 is present in many food sources (mainly animal-based), where it is bound to the protein molecules in that food. Vitamin B-12 is separated from the protein during digestion and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Adequate stomach acid is required to release the vitamin from the protein, and a substance called intrinsic factor is necessary to ensure its absorption. People who are unable to absorb vitamin B-12 properly may have pernicious anemia, which is a type of anemia characterized by a lack of intrinsic factor.
Who needs B-12 shots?
While B-12 supplements and foods fortified with the vitamin are readily available, vitamin B-12 shots are only available by prescription, so a clinical diagnosis is always necessary. t is important to note that low levels are rare in most healthy adults because the human liver stores several years’ worth of vitamin B-12. However, some groups of people are more at risk of deficiency than others and may wish to discuss the possibility of B-12 shots with their doctor.
People with signs and symptoms of B-12 deficiency
Anyone who is displaying any of the signs and symptoms of a B-12 deficiency or pernicious anemia should consult their doctor immediately. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Decreased cognitive function, such as issues with memory or understanding
- Feeling faint
- Depression or irritability
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Sore, swollen tongue, which may be pale yellow or very red
- Heart palpitations
- Mouth ulcers
- Par anesthesia (pins and needles)
- Vision changes
B-12 deficiency risk factors
Both diabetes and some medications for type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Also, the following risk factors can increase the chance of developing vitamin B-12 deficiency:
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain prescription medications, including antacids and some type 2 diabetes drugs
- Having an endocrine-related autoimmune disorder, such as diabetes or a thyroid disorder
- Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet
- Certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as crohns disease
- Gastric bypass or the removal of parts of the stomach
Benefits of B-12 Shots
There are several reasons to consider getting a B-12 shot, including:
Reduced risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency and associated complications
The most obvious benefit of receiving vitamin B-12 shots is treating a vitamin B-12 deficiency and avoiding its associated symptoms.
In addition, B-12 shots reduce the risk of some serious complications associated with vitamin B-12 deficiency including:
- Heart disease
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Coordination problems (ataxia)
- Peripheral nephropathy
- Vision loss
- Infertility (although this usually resolves with B-12 treatment)
- Neural tube defects in the babies of women with B-12 deficiency.
High levels of assimilation by the body
B-12 shots bypass the stomach and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Therefore, they are a better option than oral supplements for those who have gastrointestinal issues, including older adults who have low levels of stomach acid or intrinsic factor.