Vitamin B12: All You Need to Know

February 29, 2020 0 Comments
B12, vitamin B12
February 29th, 2020 0 Comments

Vitamin supplements are trendy right now. And for a good reason, especially B12.

Many Americans have difficulty absorbing the right amount of nutrients into their bodies due to sluggish digestive systems or leaky guts.

Others are struggling to eat a nutrient-rich diet that provides a sufficient amount of the nutrients required to run the body at optimal levels.

The effects of being nutrient deficient come in many forms- it depends on what the deficiency is. You might feel:

  • Tired
  • Achy
  • Foggy
  • Sick

One of the most common vitamin deficiencies is a deficiency of Vitamin B12. And it’s not something to mess around with. B12 deficiency affects your brain, vision, skin, and energy levels.

But don’t worry, after we diagnose the deficiency, it’s easy to correct with supplements. One of the best delivery systems for Vitamin B12 is a B12 shot that can be quickly administered by a doctor or pharmacy.

Let’s take a deep dive into Vitamin B12 and B12 shots.

What Is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in brain function and the production of DNA and red blood cells. It also participates in approximately 100 vital bodily functions, including:

  • Protein conversion
  • DNA synthesis
  • Fatty acid production
  • Neurological function

Chemically, vitamin B12 exists in many different forms. The common denominator between these forms is that all of them contain the mineral cobalt. It may take a few years for a deficiency to develop because your body can store B12 in your liver for a long time.

Because your body can’t make B12 on its own, you need to get it from your diet or supplements. It is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products, but is not usually present in plant foods.

There are fortified foods on the market like breakfast cereals that can be used as a readily available source of vitamin B12 for people who do not eat meat and dairy products.

How Much B12 Do You Need to Be Healthy?

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin B12 for adults is 6 micrograms per day. Providers advise vegetarians and vegans to take at least 10 mcg per day, or at least 2,000 mcg once per week.

Who Tends to Be B12 Deficient?

People who are B12 deficient either don’t get enough of the nutrient in their diet, or they have a difficult time absorbing the nutrient. B12 absorption depends on a protein produced in your stomach called intrinsic factor.

This protein binds to vitamin B12, which allows your body to absorb it into the blood. If your body doesn’t produce enough intrinsic factor, it can become B12 deficient.

The people with the highest risk of B12 insufficiency or deficiency are:

  • Vegans
  • Vegetarians
  • Older adults
  • People with pernicious anemia
  • People who have gastrointestinal disorders
  • Individuals with atrophic gastritis
  • People who have had gastrointestinal surgery
  • Individuals who take certain medications like:
    • Estrogen (HRT)
    • Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin®)
    • H2 receptor antagonists (Tagamet®, Pepcid® + Zantac®)
    • Birth control pills
    • PPIs (Prilosec® or Prevacid®)

What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough B12?

Left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems or pernicious anemia.

What Are the Symptoms of a B12 Deficiency?

If you have a mild deficiency, you may feel no symptoms. But if left untreated, the deficiency may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Pale skin
  • Vision loss
  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
  • A smooth tongue
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Behavioral changes
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems walking

Other findings have also shown:

  • Low B12 levels and the development of dementia may be linked
  • Low blood levels of vitamin B12 are linked with reduced bone mass (osteoporosis)
  • B12 combined with other B vitamins, and folic acid may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration

What Is the Best Way to Supplement B12?

Liquid B12’s have become more and more effective at delivering Vitamin B12 to the body, but B12 shots are the most efficient way to prevent or treat a deficiency.

Why Are B12 Shots Better Than Oral Supplements?

If you have trouble with nutrient absorption due to the presence of intestinal inflammation, poor gut health, or a deficiency of intrinsic factors, then taking an oral supplement may not be that helpful.

Injecting nutrients directly to the cells via the muscles feeds your body instantaneously for immediate utilization.

Do I Need Vitamin B12 Injections?

People who eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamin B12, usually don’t need to take additional B12. But if you saw yourself in any of the risk factors listed, then you will probably need to take supplements.

If you think you may be deficient, talk to a doctor, or dietitian about your options. They will use your medical history, diet, and blood test results to determine the best course of action.

Are B12 Shots Prescription-Only?

Yes. Any solution that gets injected into the body is Rx only. You must obtain a prescription from a doctor whose scope of practice allows them to prescribe drugs (MD, DO, ND/NMD) or a nurse with prescription rights who is under the direct supervision of a physician.

What Does B12 Treat?

Aside from being used to supplement low blood levels, B12 has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • hepatitis
  • bursitis
  • Bell’s palsy
  • herpes zoster
  • vitiligo
  • hyperhomocysteinemia
  • sciatica
  • depression
  • trigeminal neuralgia
  • dementia
  • neurodermatitis
  • chronic fatigue
  • diabetic neuropathy
  • asthma
  • infertility
  • hyperthyroidism
  • tobacco amblyopia
  • cyanide poisoning

B12 also boosts energy, improves sleep, increases serotonin to elevate mood, increases focus, and regulates hormones.

What You Need to Know About Vitamin B12 Injections

Side Effects

Providers consider Vitamin B12 injections to be very safe, resulting in no significant side effects. In very rare cases, individuals have experienced side effects caused by allergic reactions or sensitivity.

Because of how B12 injections deliver B12, you may experience some discomfort, redness, bruising, inflammation, itching, or tenderness at or around the injection site. This discomfort could last from a few minutes to several days.

You may also notice the completely benign side effect of pinkish or reddish urine. If you’ve received more B12 than what your body can utilize and store, your kidneys will flush out the excess, and because B12 in injections is red, urine may appear pink or reddish.

Side effects that occur less frequently are lightheadedness, nausea, fatigue, headache, dizziness, warmth, or flushing.

Having a true allergic reaction is extremely rare. But if it were to occur, you could experience throat swelling, an itchy body rash, dangerously low blood pressure, or symptoms associated with anaphylaxis (throat swelling, trouble breathing). If these side effects occur, visit your nearest emergency department without hesitation or call 9-1-1.

Vitamin B12 Shots Are Sterile

If you go to a trusted source like your doctor or nurse practitioner, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the injections are sterile. Healthcare providers purchase injectable solutions from certified compounding pharmacies.

These pharmacies are generally certified through the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board(PCAB). Eight of the nation’s leading pharmacy organizations formed this nonprofit organization.

Not only does PCAB provide a voluntary accreditation program for compounding pharmacies across the country, they promote, develop, and maintain principles, policies, and standards for improving the quality of pharmacy compounding nationwide.

Laboratories and manufacturing facilities that make the injections are certified by globally recognized institutions such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They also meet validated manufacturing standards such as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).

Vitamin B12 Shots Are Safe

All vitamin shots are water-soluble and safe. However, there are certain health conditions and circumstances that may be negatively affected by the injections, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Cancer
  • Advanced liver disease
  • Seriously compromised kidney function
  • Hypotension

Your healthcare provider will be able to guide you as to whether B12 injections are right for you.

Providers Inject Vitamin B12 Shots Intramuscularly

B12 shots are intramuscular (IM) injections. This means the solution gets injected directly into your muscles.

B12 shots are typically administered in the upper outer quadrant of the gluteal muscle (the gluteus medius). This area is just above the hip region and not directly on the buttock.

B12 Shots Work Quickly

New red blood cells produce quickly. A response is usually seen within 48 to 72 hours, with brisk production of new red blood cells.

Typically, the effects of a B12 shot is felt for about one week. B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that can be stored in the body. If your body doesn’t readily utilize all the B12, it will store it for later use.

You May Need More Than One Shot

If you are suffering from a severe deficiency or severe symptoms, you may need to get five to seven shots during the first week or treatment to restore the body’s reserves.

Depending on your condition, after your first round of shots, your doctor may keep you on a regular regimen of shots or shift you to other delivery systems like pills or liquids.

You Can Manage the Pain From the Shots

Every person has a different pain tolerance. We understand that. There are, however, factors that can increase or decrease how you experience pain from a shot.

Pain is more common if you are tense, dehydrated, or you’ve just worked out the muscle into which the shot is being injected.

If you are relaxed in both mind and body, well-nourished and hydrated, and haven’t been working out that muscle, you are likely to experience less pain. Hydration also decreases the risk of bruising from an injection.

Our goal is to administer shots so that they cause little to no pain. We will instruct you on how to stand and breathe for the most comfortable experience.

Keep in mind— wearing heels tenses up your glutes so you may want to remove your shoes during the injection or not wear them at all that day!

Bruising Is Rare but Can Happen

Most of the time, the injection will cause no bruising. The possibility of bruising increases if you are taking a medication or supplement that thins the blood like warfarin, Coumadin, aspirin, fish oil, Ginkgo Biloba, or garlic.

Thinning skin, vasculitis, purpuric dermatosis, platelet deficiency, liver disease, vitamin K deficiency, vitamin C deficiency, moving your body during the injection, or dehydration may also cause bruising.

Getting a B12 Shot Earlier in the Day Will Decrease the Chance of Insomnia

B12 shots do not contain any stimulants, but depending on how sensitive you are, getting the shot in the evening may lead to vivid dreams or insomnia.

It’s best to have a shot administered before 6:00 PM. When not taken to late in the day, Vitamin B12 can help promote deeper, healthier sleep.

B12 Shots Cost

Depending on why your doctor has prescribed B12 shots, it may or may not be covered by your insurance plan. You will need to check with your insurance provider to find out whether or not they are covered. The average cost of a B12 shot, depending on location, ranges anywhere from $20 to $77.

EVEXIAS Denver Can Help!

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms of a B12 deficiency or just need a boost of energy, we’ve got you covered.

And, our services include the prescription and administration of Vitamin B12 shots. Don’t hesitate to call (719) 625-8045 with questions or to make an appointment. You can also get in touch by filling out our online contact form.

Find relief and confirm your diagnosis when you meet with our team at EVEXIAS Denver. Schedule your comprehensive consultation today.

We’ll discuss your symptoms, health history, and pinpoint the root cause of your health concerns. After we have the big picture of your health, we’ll decide what diagnostic tests or labs will be necessary.

And use our findings to develop the best treatment plan that is in line with your health goals and lifestyle.

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Vitamin B12: All You Need to Know
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If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms of a B12 deficiency or just need a boost of energy we've got you covered.

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