At some point, we’ve all had someone look over at us as we complain about our health and say, “You need a Vitamin B12 shot.” To many people, a Vitamin B12 shot is a panacea and a cure-all for any illness. But, before you have one, there are things you need to weigh. As with any decision about your body, you need to do some research and make an informed choice.
Vitamin B12 is essential for your body’s health and well-being. It is not a vitamin the body generates; it needs to be ingested. Your body cannot store Vitamin B12 for protracted periods of time. This indicates a need to frequently consume healthy amounts of Vitamin B12.
The average daily recommended microgram (mcg) amount of Vitamin B12 you should ingest depends on your age. Infants younger than 6 months need 0.4mcg, while babies between 7-12 months old need 0.5mcg. From 1-3 years, children need 0.9mcg, and those aged 4-8 years require 1.2mcg. Tweens (9-13 years old) should consume about 1.8mcg, and teens 14-18 need 2.4mcg. Once you enter adulthood, you need 2.4mcg of Vitamin B12 each day. For women, the recommended intake increases to 2.6mcg during pregnancy and 2.8mcg while breastfeeding.
The most obvious way to add Vitamin B12 to your body is by eating foods rich in it. Vitamin B12 is found in high concentrations in dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Very often, this is simply not enough. A Vitamin B12 supplement or injection is needed to boost the amount in the body. Let’s start with the advantages of Vitamin B12 Injections:
15. They stimulate your metabolism
Vitamin B12 can jump-start your metabolism. The metabolic system is in charge of breaking down the food we eat to convert it to energy. When the metabolism is sluggish or slow, foods don’t get broken down and used. They get stored as fat. This results in the inefficient use of the food consumed. And it also results in weight gain.
Weight gain should be avoided. Once you’ve put the weight on, it’s hard to lose it. Keeping your metabolism stimulated helps you avoid gaining weight.
When your metabolism is not working properly, your appetite is not regulated and under control. This can prompt overeating or undereating. Either of these has a negative effect on your body’s ability to metabolize what you eat.
Undereating or overeating affects your body’s energy levels. As soon as energy levels are affected, exercise output is impacted. When you’re not exercising as much as you should, your metabolism slows down. A slow metabolism also affects sleep patterns. You may find yourself needing to sleep longer usual. It feels like no amount of sleep is enough, and you wake up tired all the time.
14. They counteract fatigue
If you wake up after 8 hours’ sleep and feel like you just turned out the lights, you may need a Vitamin B12 boost. A lack of Vitamin B12 can you feel exhausted even when you shouldn’t. Vitamin B12 is essential to the production of red blood cells. These busy cells transport oxygen, nutrients, and other substances around the body.
A deficiency in red blood cells results in the patient feeling tired all the time. Red blood cells contain iron. If there are not enough red blood cells, there is not enough iron. This can result in iron-deficiency anemia.
Iron-deficiency anemia can become serious if not treated. While the sufferer needs to take iron, they also need Vitamin B12. This will ensure they have sufficient blood cells for the iron they’re ingesting.
Sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 in the body restore sleep patterns so you don’t feel tired all the time. As soon as you’re getting quality sleep and proper rest, you’ll feel revitalized and ready to get back into your exercise routine. This will return your metabolic rate to normal.
13. They can improve your mental acuity
Recent studies suggest a causal link between low levels of Vitamin B12 and a decline in the brain’s functioning capacity. Low blood levels are associated with the progression of dementia. No one is saying Vitamin B12 is a cure. But if you think about it, a Vitamin B12 shot can potentially help.
Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy blood cell production and in keeping blood levels optimal. Ensuring sufficient blood levels may help to slow the progress of dementia, meaning a Vitamin B12 shot would be a good idea.
Your memory also appears to be affected by the blood levels in your body. Making sure you have enough Vitamin B12 to facilitate blood production helps preserve your memory. This is super helpful for students during exam time.
A Vitamin B12 shot can also help people battling with depression. Research is in its infancy, but there may be a link between low levels of Vitamin B12 and depression. There is nothing to indicate depression can be treated with Vitamin B12. In fact, a review found that it doesn’t reduce the severity of symptoms. But there is potential for Vitamin B12 to stop a relapse into depression.
12. They are good for your bones
The onset of osteoporosis becomes a looming reality as we get older. Once diagnosed, people start worrying about bone health. By then, it’s too late. We need to be concerned with the integrity of our bones from the time we are very young.
Taking steps to ensure bone health from a young age delays or avoids the occurrence of conditions such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can have a very negative effect on your quality of life.
Osteoporosis is caused by declining bone mass. It results in reduced bone mass, making the bones weaker and more inclined to fracture or break. Tentative research indicates that reduced bone mass is linked to low levels of Vitamin B12. This means you can improve your bone mass by making sure you have enough Vitamin B12 in your body.
Red blood cells are important role players in producing and protecting your bones. Vitamin B12 helps your body produce red blood cells. Improved blood production improves the health of your bones.
11. They help your heart
Your heart and circulatory system need Vitamin B12. This is because Vitamin B12 removes homocysteine from the blood. Vitamin B12 helps with the methylation of homocysteine. This is a process whereby the homocysteine is converted into methionine.
Homocysteine is a dangerous protein. It is a high-risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If it is allowed to travel around the body unchecked, homocysteine can do some serious damage.
Homocysteine can inflame the veins and arteries in your body. This can lead to long-term damage. It can have a similar effect on your heart. Inflammation of the heart leads to chronic heart disease. Heart disease can lead to massive coronary events such as heart attacks or strokes. If this is not treated, it can be fatal.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in adults. The fast-paced lives we lead and the poor diet we follow contribute to its onset. Keeping homocysteine levels as low as possible by making sure you get enough Vitamin B12 is an easy way to protect your heart.
10. They prevent nerve damage
The nerves in your body have an important role to play. They are responsible for transmitting messages from the brain to the rest of your body. They tell your fingers when to move, or alert you when you’re hungry. Nerves also let you know when you’re in pain.
Your nerves allow you to think, move, and speak freely. When there is a disruption to this “postal” system, it can cause a whole host of problems and conditions.
The nerves in your body are very important and highly sensitive. Your body has a built-in system to protect them from damage. Your nerves are covered by a myelin sheath. This is a covering which is designed to keep toxins and free radicals in the blood from getting to the nerves. If the nerves are exposed to any of these, they can become damaged and may even die.
The myelin sheath also protects the nerve to some extent in the event of injury. Vitamin B12 is important in the process whereby the myelin sheaths around your nerves are manufactured and maintained. Having enough Vitamin B12 in your system ensures this protective covering on your nerves continues to ensure their safety and integrity.
9. They keep you looking young
Another important bodily function Vitamin B12 plays a role in is DNA/RNA synthesis. This is the process whereby DNA replicates itself. It is a very delicate process.
Your DNA makes up the building blocks of your cells. As cells in the body die off, they need to be replaced. If your DNA replication processes are disrupted, cell reproduction is compromised.
Cell reproduction is constantly taking place in the skin, hair and nails. Every day, we lose an enormous amount of these cells. They die and need to be replaced. The majority of these cells die due to aging. Cells age faster and die more quickly if DNA doesn’t replicate correctly. High levels of sugar or unhealthy fats in the blood can affect DNA replication. The presence of free radicals in the blood also affects DNA replication.
A Vitamin B12 boost can add to the health of the DNA in your cells. Healthy DNA cells look younger and last longer. This is visibly noticeable when it comes to the cells on the exterior of the body. These are cells such as those in the hair, skin and nails.
8. They’re good for your eyes
You only get one set of eyes, and you need to look after them. A condition called age-related macular degeneration causes many people to lose their central vision. Unfortunately, it tends to affect both eyes and is regarded as incurable.
Macular degeneration is the result of a deterioration of the central part of the retina, called the macula. The macula focuses your central vision and sends images via the optic nerve to the brain. Central vision is what allows you to drive a car, recognize people’s faces, read and see fine detail in objects.
Macular degeneration will eventually render you legally blind. This has massive implications for your quality of life. Vitamin B12 levels must be maintained by people over the age of 50 to ensure good eye health and avoid the onset of macular degeneration.
Studies in this area show that increased doses of B Vitamins, including Vitamin B12, may lower the risk of this condition. The connection needs to be explored further. But it appears that Vitamin B12 is essential for eye health.
7. They can improve your sperm count
Male fertility is a very sensitive subject. A low sperm count means the quality of the sperm is not what it should be. This can affect its ability to fertilize an egg. When couples encounter fertility problems, the tendency is to look at the woman as the cause. However, it can be a problem with the man’s health.
One of the leading men’s reproductive health issues is a low sperm count. Its incidence is on the rise. The leading causes of a low sperm count are smoking, excessive drinking and drug abuse. These lower the sperm production process and can affect testosterone levels.
Obesity can also affect sperm count. In terms of sperm production and health, Vitamin B12 is regarded as an essential nutrient. Vitamin B12 assists with the production of red blood cells. It also plays a role in DNA replication, which is critical for the production of high-quality sperm.
Several studies on the relationship between sperm count and Vitamin B12 have been conducted. There is evidence that a Vitamin B12 deficiency lowers sperm quality. Rectifying the deficiency improves the sperm count.
6. They can help if you have a deficiency during pregnancy
Vitamin B12 is very important for pregnant women. In most cases, a pregnant woman will take a prenatal supplement which contains all the vitamins and minerals she needs. It is very seldom that a Vitamin B12 shot will be prescribed. That will only be done in the event of a severe deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is very important for the development of a baby. Combined with folic acid, it can prevent conditions such as spina bifida and other central nervous system defects. Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the development of a baby’s neural tube formation, and the development of its spine and brain.
Given that Vitamin B12 is a role-player in the replication of DNA, it is very important for the development of a baby. Fetal development is characterized by continuous cell generation and replication. It also assists in the development of the myelin sheaths around the baby’s nerves. Vitamin B12 is able to help a pregnant mother by stimulating her metabolism. This helps her body feed her baby. It also helps keep energy levels stable and normalize sleep patterns.
The Vitamin B12 shot does, however, bear some risk. It is vital you understand the risks associated with an injection before deciding to have one. If you have one or more health conditions and are taking chronic medications, it’s important to consult your doctor first. Let’s explore the risks.
5. You might not absorb it all
The body’s capacity to absorb Vitamin B12 is complex. It cannot necessarily absorb a high dose. It is usually recommended that Vitamin B12 is taken in smaller doses on a regular basis. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. It is dissolved in the fluid in the body. Whatever the body doesn’t use, it expels.
Vitamin B12 doesn’t have a long “shelf life” in the body. So, it’s a case of use it or lose it. In the event of a severe deficiency, an injection will give the body the immediate boost. Where there is a mild deficiency, a more metered intake is required.
The fact that your body might not absorb the whole dose of Vitamin B12 is not a medical risk, per se. It’s more related to the fact you take the shot expecting to get the maximum use out of its contents.
It’s hard to overdose on a vitamin such as Vitamin B12 because it is so easily expelled from the body. Nutritionists prefer a more regular dosage pattern than that offered by a concentrated shot.
4. Be careful if you take other medications
As with any treatment, you need to make sure that Vitamin B12 does not interact negatively with any medications you take. You should consult your doctor and pharmacist in order to make a decision based on the whole picture. This is an overview of you, your general state of health, and any medications you use regularly.
There are three conditions that interact poorly with Vitamin B12. The first is hypokalemia. This condition is a result of too little potassium in the blood. The second is Leber’s Disease (known as hereditary optic nerve atrophy). Vitamin B12 may induce further atrophy of the optic nerve. The third is renal (kidney) impairment. If your kidneys are damaged and struggling to function properly, a high dose of Vitamin B12 may be dangerous.
If you are taking medication for diabetes or any other chronic condition, check its interaction with Vitamin B12. Also, be aware that it may interact with antibiotics and other supplements you take. A simple online search should be your first course of action. Thereafter, seek the advice of a medical professional.
On the whole, most people manage to maintain moderate levels of Vitamin B12 through diet alone. Taking a regular supplement simply “tops them off.” A Vitamin B12 deficiency is not as common as you think. However, there are some people who are more susceptible to a deficiency than others. They should consider a Vitamin B12 injection to boost their B12 levels. Who are they? Read on!
3. Vegetarians and vegans
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you are more susceptible to a Vitamin B12 deficiency. The reason for this is the natural sources. Vitamin B12 is found in its highest concentrations in meat, fish and poultry which vegetarians and vegans eschew. Vitamin B12 is also present in eggs and dairy products which vegans do not consume.
Avoiding these foods automatically puts your intake of Vitamin B12 at risk. It’s not really found in significant quantities in fruits and vegetables. You can, however, look for cereals that have been fortified with Vitamin B12.
Vegetarians and vegans should get their blood tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies so they can be treated promptly. Deficiencies are easy to address and reverse in the early stages. When they are allowed to persist, they can cause potential long-term harm. It is always advisable to be proactive.
Vegetarians and vegans should take a supplement that aims to provide them with vitamins and minerals they aren’t getting from their diet. A pharmacist or doctor would be able to recommend the right product.
2. Senior citizens
As people age, the ability of their bodies to absorb vitamins and minerals may deteriorate. They also tend to eat less than before. These factors combined may result in lower levels of substances such as Vitamin B12.
The problems with absorption of vitamins and minerals lie in changes to the digestive system that occur with advancing age. The stomach produces less acid. This means food is not broken down and absorbed properly. Many nutrients are lost during the digestive process when the stomach doesn’t break them down for absorption in the gut.
A decreased appetite is normal as you grow older. Many older people adopt less-healthy eating habits. This is especially true of those who live alone. There is a tendency to avoid cooking for one. This often results in a less-than-desirable diet that doesn’t contain enough vitamins and minerals.
A lower level of Vitamin B12 is also associated with fatigue, irritability and memory loss in the older generation. Since a deficiency is more probable over time, senior citizens should have their vitamin and mineral levels tested to ensure they are at acceptable levels.
1. People with digestive disorders
Digestion is essential for the absorption of all vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 is no exception. If you have a condition that causes your stomach to produce less acid than it needs, you will struggle to absorb Vitamin B12. Conditions such as gastritis, hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria fit into this category.
When you have problems with your body producing too much stomach acid, it causes conditions such as esophageal reflux. The treatment for this is antacids. Bear in mind that they reduce the amount of stomach acid in the body. This can affect your body’s ability to absorb Vitamin B12.
Recent surgery on the stomach or intestine can also affect your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. The affected area will probably not perform at optimal levels during its recovery.
If you have problems with digestion that result in episodes of diarrhea or constipation, it indicates that your body is struggling to absorb nutrients. This not only applies to food but supplements as well. It’s possible your body is expelling waste without having absorbed all the nutrients. A lot of digestion complaints can be resolved with changes in diet and natural remedies.