Should You Get a B12 Shot
Vitamin B12 is one of those essential nutrients that we never really think about until we really need to. It plays a hugely important role in making sure nerves and red blood cells are healthy. B12 is also partially responsible for the formation of DNA which keeps your body functioning as it should.
Some other ways vitamin B12 supports your health are:
- Nerves: Particularly important for brain function and neurological health
- Blood cells: Aids red blood cell formation which supports oxygen transport around the body
- DNA: Involved in the creation of DNA and RNA which contains the genetic code for on-going cell reproduction
- Anemia: Helps to prevent megaloblastic anemia which causes people to feel weak, tired, and lethargic
Have you been wondering if maybe you should get a B12 shot, you’ve most likely been feeling extra tired or out of sorts recently. This is a tried and true symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency, and the deficiency itself can have some pretty serious consequences if left untreated.
Fatigue, weakness, numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, constipation, anemia, problems with balance and walking, and even issues with your memory can arise are all potential outcomes of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
What is Vitamin B12
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as cobalamin. The vitamin exists in a number of different forms, and all contain the mineral cobalt.
When treating a deficiency, B12 shots are the most common prevention and treatment method. Injections are prescribed by a doctor and given intramuscularly. These types of injections are usually given as hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin, and are very effective at raising blood levels of B12 and preventing and/or reversing a deficiency.
Who Might Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Deficiency is becoming increasingly common, especially as more and more people engage in a meatless lifestyle. Vegetarian or vegan diets exclude vital food sources that contain B12, including eggs, meat, and dairy products. People who avoid those types of foods are more likely to become deficient in B12.
This isn’t to say that only vegans and vegetarians are the only ones who are deficient. Some omnivores don’t absorb B12 very well or end up developing a deficiency through no fault of their own. This is when a booster shot of B12 could be incredibly beneficial.
Potential Health Benefits
Since vitamin B12 plays a vital roles in our bodies, developing a deficiency of the vitamin can have serious, adverse health consequences.
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 neuropathy
- vision loss
- infertility (although this usually resolves with B-12 treatment)
- neural tube defects in the babies of women with B-12 deficiency
What Are B12 Shots, and Should You Get One?
When you get a vitamin B12 injection, you’re essentially getting a high dose shot of the nutrient to alleviate any symptoms involved in a deficiency. A B12 shot is used to rapidly elevate the blood levels of a person who is deficient. A prescription is required in order for this type of injection to be administered. Vitamin B12 shots are injected into the muscle tissue every other day for the first two weeks (or until an improvement is seen in your symptoms). After that, you’ll need a shot every 1-3 months but this can vary based on the age of the patient as well as their medical history.
If you eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamin B12, then it is unlikely that you’ll need to take additional B12.
For most people, dietary sources provide everything that is needed. However, people who are at risk of deficiency will probably need to take supplements.
In these cases, oral supplements may be as effective as injections for many people.
Some experts point out that regular injections should only be used as a last resort if supplements don’t work or if deficiency symptoms are serious.