What’s all the hype about B12 shots!
I was recently looking for some deals on Groupon when I saw a special on Vitamin B12 shots, this was my inspiration for this week’s blog. When I started practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor ten years ago these shots were considered avant-garde. Now, you can buy them on Groupon! In many ways this is exciting. People are recognizing the benefits of B12; to me it also represents a main streaming and demand for Naturopathic Medicine. However, with all new trends and treatments I caution you to know the facts so you can make a safe decision that will benefit your health.
It is a water soluble vitamin that cannot be made in the human body thus we must get it via supplementation or diet. I always encourage my patients to get it via diet; it is found in animal products such as eggs, meat and milk and many sea vegetables.
B12 is extremely important as it plays an important role in the metabolism of every cell in your body! It promotes healthy blood cell formation, nerve cells support and protein metabolism. It contributes to the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, thus it has gained great popularity with several weight loss regimes.
To determine if my patients need B12, I run a blood test in my clinic. B12 tends to be a more common deficiency in vegetarians, people with stomach or gastric issues, and people with a diet lacking in B12 rich foods. Many prescription drugs can reduce B12 levels. Nicotine and excessive alcohol consumption can also reduce levels.
Some symptoms of low B12 can include: low energy and fatigue, decreased concentration, decreased memory and even symptoms of depression, anxiety or irritability. People with a more severe deficiency may report a sore mouth and tongue or possibly numbness and tingling in the extremities. B12 supplementation not only treats deficiencies but can help with the above symptoms and even diabetic neuropathy.
If you are supplementing, both tablets and injections are acceptable forms. A tablet is best absorbed in a sublingual form, meaning it dissolves under your tongue. When I question a patient’s ability to absorb a pill or if they have extremely low B12 levels, I will give them an injection to ensure absorption.
Injections and tablets can be given in three forms B12 : hydroxycobalamin, methylcobalamin, or cyanocobalamin. At my clinic we use only preservative free methylcobalamin, it is the most bioavailable form to your body. Injections can be done 1x/week to 1x/month as needed. Please make sure you are injecting a trusted source of B12 that is preservative free. If the shelf life on the bottle is several years or if it does not require refrigeration, it contains preservatives. I encourage you to ask the doctor what the expiry is and if it contains preservatives. We are exposed to preservatives daily so why inject them when an alternative is available?
B12 is considered to be a very safe vitamin thus toxicity is rare but please make sure only a registered health professional is administering your injection and that you need it. If you are feeling tired and need a lift, B12 might be just what you need!
Written by: Dr.Holly Fennell, Naturopathic Doctor
Facebook: Holly Fennell ND