Updated: Aug 25, 2022
Vitamin B12 injections have gained popularity over the years, and for a good reason! Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that is crucial for several functions within our bodies, and as we age, the risk for deficiency increases.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin, like all other B vitamins. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that is required for red blood cell development, DNA synthesis, and proper nerve and neurological function.
What Foods Provide Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in various animal foods such as poultry, eggs, and liver. No plant-based foods contain vitamin B12 naturally and thus are fortified. Manufacturers fortify foods with vitamin B12 as well.
Fun Fact: Clams offer the highest amount of Vitamin B12!
Am I Getting Enough Vitamin B12?
A deficiency or insufficiency in vitamin B12 can occur when levels become too low to meet the body's demands, leading to several symptoms and even progressing to irreversible neurological issues if left untreated.
The current statistics show that only 6 percent of the United States population under 60 has a Vitamin B12 deficiency, but that number more than doubles (20 percent) in those over 60. The problem with this statistic is that it doesn't account for those with insufficiency.
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Autoimmune conditions, malabsorption, or insufficient intake of Vitamin B12 can lead to deficiency and insufficiency.
Avoidance of animal products. Those with vegetarian or vegan diets are at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency due to the lack of animal products and should include fortified Vitamin B12 foods or supplements in their diets. Women of childbearing age and those who are pregnant should also be mindful as Vitamin B12 is crucial for neurologic development in fetuses.
Lack of intrinsic factor. Pernicious Anemia is an autoimmune disease that attacks the cells in the stomach responsible for producing intrinsic factor. Without intrinsic factors, the body is incapable of absorbing Vitamin B12.
Inadequate stomach acid. This is mainly related to medications that treat gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or peptic ulcer diseases, such as proton-pump inhibitors, H2 blockers, or other antacids.
Surgical interventions and digestive disorders. Gastric surgeries can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiencies if they involve the ileum (the last portion of the small intestine) because this is where the intrinsic factor is produced. Certain digestive diseases such as Crohn's and celiac disease that negatively impact the digestive tract also increase the risk of deficiency.
What are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency can include:
Megaloblastic Anemia — occurs when the bone marrow produces abnormally large and immature red blood cells and is typically the result of inadequate dietary intake of Vitamin B12 or malabsorption disorders.
Pernicious Anemia — is an autoimmune disease that affects the cells of the stomach, which reduces the amount of intrinsic factors and thus reduces the amount of Vitamin B12 that is absorbed.
Neuropathy — numbness, and tingling in the hands or feet
Glossitis — can lead to pain, swelling, or hyperpigmentation of the tongue
Depression or mood impairment
Restless leg syndrome and so much more.
What type of Vitamin B12 Dietary Supplements Are Available?
Vitamin B12 can be supplements are available in various forms:
Oral tablets or capsules
In true deficiency, most patients will not achieve adequate Vitamin B12 levels with oral doses, so Vitamin B12 injections may be necessary to restore levels.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Vitamin B12 Injections?
Vitamin B12 injections are safe, effective, and well-tolerated for preventing or correcting a deficiency when given by a licensed and trained medical professional. Most side effects are typically mild, including nausea, diarrhea, or a rash. You may experience pain or redness at the injection site, but this is temporary. The toxicity risk is infrequent and typically experienced in those with kidney disease because Vitamin B12 is water-soluble — meaning excess amounts are filtered by your kidneys and excreted through urine.
Are Vitamin B12 Injections Right for Me?
Vitamin B12 injections benefit patients with a deficiency and those at risk for deficiency. If you or a loved one feel that they are suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, give Reform ABQ a call today at 505-420-6979 to discuss your treatment options!