You may be wondering what’s the big deal with Vitamin B12 “shots” (injections). Lots of people are talking about them these days – I certainly get asked about them frequently. What are they good for? Do they really give you more energy? Do they hurt? Can anyone get them?
When measured in a blood test, Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) levels reflect the amount of the vitamin we have in our blood, which is a test used to diagnose a form of anemia called pernicious anemia. But this is only one of the many roles vitamin B12 plays in our body.
This vitamin is also crucial to the health of our nervous system, energy production and hormone balance. For most people, the amount of Vitamin B12 in the blood doesn’t reflect the amount of the vitamin required by the nervous system. The result is fatigue, depression or anxiety or more advanced symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency such as tingling in the fingers and toes.
Vitamin B12 is found in most animal products, including meat, shellfish, dairy, eggs, etc. Some non-animal sources of vitamin B12 including fermented foods and nutritional yeast also provide small amounts. Absorbing vitamin B12 is dependent on intrinsic factor, which is produced in our stomach and on the adequate production of stomach acid.
Anyone with a Vitamin B12 deficiency must supplement with the vitamin. Also, if you are under high stress, suffer from anxiety or depression, have a low stomach acid production or are a vegan, you can also benefit from a Vitamin B12 supplement.
If you take certain medications, then you are likely to be deficient in vitamin B12 as they inhibit the absorption of vitamin B12 or increase its metabolism. These include:
Vitamin B12 can be found in various forms, including Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxycobalamin and Methylcobalamin, this last one being the most active form. This means that it can be used as is by the body while the others must be metabolized into this active form.
When Vitamin B12 is delivered by injection into a muscle, the absorption rate is much greater than from a tablet as it bypasses the digestive system. This way, it is also more readily available to the nervous system. Although more invasive, it is a more effective mode of delivery and a smaller dose is required!
This depends on the individual, but ranges from 1 time per week to 1 time per month. Factors affecting this are medications, amount consumed through diet and amount absorbed and the condition being treated.
If you this sounds like something you could benefit from, bring it up during your next visit!
Dr Renée Purdy is a naturopathic doctor in Moncton, New Brunswick. In her practice, she values making health achievable and long lasting. She likes to explore the mind, body, spirit connection in health, and her approach includes using food as medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and lifestyle counselling. Her focus is on digestive health, hormone balance, thyroid health and adrenal fatigue.