Vitamin B12, aka cobalamin, is a very essential vitamin that is required by your body. Unfortunately, your body does not produce it on its own. It is naturally found in many animal products and in oral and injectable supplements.
Vitamin B12 has many roles in your body. From supporting the normal function of nerve cells to supporting the formation of red blood cells and DNA synthesis. A 2.4 mcg of B12 is the recommended daily dosage for adults. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need more. Vitamin B12 has plenty of uses and health benefits for your body.
Uses/Benefits of Vitamin B-12 Shots
Here are some of the top benefits/uses of vitamin B-12 shots (Fun fact: they are all backed by science):
Prevention of Anemia and Formation of Red Blood Cells
Vitamin B12 helps your body produce red blood cells and fight anemia. If you have low vitamin B12, you will most likely struggle in the health department. Healthy red blood cells are round and quite small. If someone is deficient in vitamin B12, they will become quite large and acquire an oval shape.
Due to change in size and shape, the movement of red blood cells from bone marrow to the bloodstream become ineffective, often leading to megaloblastic anemia. When you don’t have enough red blood cells in your system, your body won’t be able to transport oxygen to vital organs effectively, leading to fatigue and weakness.
Prevention of Major Birth Defects
During pregnancy, you need to maintain vitamin B12 to have a healthy baby. Many studies suggest that vitamin B12 is essential to developing the fetus’s brain and nervous system. If your body is lacking B12, your baby will suffer too.
At the beginning of pregnancy, low vitamin B12 levels can increase the risk of neural tube defects. The deficiency can also lead to premature birth or miscarriage. One study shows that women who had lower than 250 mg/Dl levels of vitamin B12 were 3x more likely to give birth to a child with a birth defect than those who didn’t. If the levels are below 150mg/Dl, the risk increases by 5 percent.
Essential for Bone Health and Prevention of Osteoporosis
Maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels is incredibly important for supporting your bone health. Individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency also struggle with low bone mineral density. Your bones will become delicate and fragile over time, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This is more common in women than men.
Minimize the Risk of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration impacts central vision and is a fairly common eye disease for individuals with low B-12 levels. Maintaining healthy vitamin B12 in your body helps prevent age-related macular degeneration. Researchers believe that low vitamin B12 levels lower homocysteine levels in your bloodstream. Taking B12 supplements along with B6 and folic acid can significantly lower your risk. In general, vitamin B12 promotes vision health and also prevents macular degeneration.
Improve Mood and Helps with Symptoms of Depression
Healthy levels of Vitamin B12 can improve your mood by synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to depression and consistently low mood. Many studies show that people dealing with depression could benefit significantly from vitamin B12 supplements in combination with anti-depressants. You’ll be surprised to know that high vitamin B12 is linked to better treatment outcomes of major depressive disorders.
Prevents Loss of Neurons
The deficiency of vitamin B12 has been linked with loss of memory loss in older adults. It helps prevent brain atrophy (loss of neurons in the brain) which eventually prevents dementia and memory loss.
A combination of vitamin B12, omega 3, and supplements are known to help people dealing with early-stage dementia. Another study shows that the low side of vitamin B12 can lead to poor memory performance. However, more research is still required on Vitamin B12 supplements on cognitive function and memory.
A Great Energy Booster
Vitamin B12 supplements serve as fantastic energy boosters. They play a crucial role in improving your body’s energy production. There is no scientific evidence to support this, but doctors generally recommend vitamin B12 supplements to people dealing with low energy. Taking a vitamin B12 supplement regularly will surely improve your energy levels.
Improves Heart Health
High levels of the common amino acid homocysteine are linked with an increased risk of heart disease. If you are deficient in Vitamin B12, your homocysteine levels become elevated. This is certainly not a good sign. Hence, it is crucial to maintain healthy vitamin B12 levels to lower the risk of heart disease. Although, further research is needed to support the claim.
Promotes Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails
Vitamin B12 plays a very important role in the production of new cells, which leads to better hair, skin, and healthy nails. Low vitamin B12 can lead to multiple dermatological symptoms such as hyperpigmentation, discoloration of nails, vitiligo, changes in hair, and angular stomatitis. Incorporating vitamin B12 supplements into your day-to-day life will improve these symptoms significantly.
It is important to note that if your body is well-nourished and not deficient in vitamin B12, adding a supplement will not improve the health of your skin, hair, or nails.
Who Is at Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency can happen due to one of the following reasons; you are not consuming enough of it through your diet, or your body is unable to absorb the supplement. Individuals at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include older adults, people with gastrointestinal disorders, those who have had gastrointestinal surgeries, individuals on a strict vegan diet, individuals who take metformin for blood sugar control, and people taking proton pump inhibitors for chronic heartburn.
In older adults, secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is reduced significantly, which can lead to poor absorption of vitamin B12. If your body cannot absorb vitamin B12 effectively, the doctor will recommend B12 shots to increase your levels.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products only. You can find some plant-based milk, cereals, and grains fortified with vitamin B12 on the market. If you consume a healthy diet, the chances of vitamin B12 deficiency will be significantly reduced. If you are deficient, vitamin B12 shots are of enormous help.
Key risk factors of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Decreased ability to absorb vitamins as a result of low hydrochloric acid secretion
- Certain medications
- Gastrointestinal disease and surgeries
- Vegans are also at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency
Can You Have Too Much Vitamin B12?
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. That is the reason it is considered relatively safe even at high doses. So far, no Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) has been established for B12. This is due to a low level of toxicity. The maximum daily dose of a vitamin is unlikely to cause any significant side effects. Your body excretes excess vitamin B-12 through urine.
However, supplementing excessively high levels of B12 can have some adverse effects. It can lead to acne and cause rosacea in some people. It can also lead to adverse health outcomes in people struggling with diabetes and kidney disease.
Individuals struggling with diabetic nephropathy might experience a more rapid decline in kidney function when they take unusually high doses of vitamin B-12. Another study showed that pregnant women’s exposure to extremely high doses of vitamin B12 could lead to the risk of autism spectrum disorder in an unborn child.
Hence, it is essential to take your healthcare provider onboard before including any new supplement into your diet or making any kind of lifestyle alterations, especially when you are dealing with certain health conditions or are pregnant.
Please note that all the risks mentioned are only associated with extremely high doses of vitamin B12.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin obtained via diet or supplements. It prevents major birth defects in children, supports bone health, improves mood, and helps you maintain healthy skin and hair. If you struggle to consume enough vitamin B-12 through diet, vitamin B-12 shots get easily absorbed into your bloodstream and are a great way to bump up the intake and minimize the risks associated with the deficiency.
If you want to get vitamin B12 shots or hoping to get an expert opinion on vitamin B12 deficiency, get in touch with us.