Understanding Vitamin B12 Injections

Understanding Vitamin B12 Injections

No doubt about it, there’s lots of confusion over the usefulness and benefits of Vitamin B12 injections. So we think a short primer is in order to clear the misconceptions and lack of knowledge about this nutrient that many doctors — including those here at Restoration Healthcare — agree is essential for red cell production, neurological function, DNA/RNA synthesis, and enzyme synthesis.

Among the most prevalent myths about Vitamin B12 shots is that the average Joe or Jane has no need for such injections and that oral administration is just as effective and much less expensive than injection form. Neither of these assumptions is correct.

However, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 μg a day. And because 10 to 30 percent of older people may be unable to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12, it is suggested that those over 50 years of age consume foods fortified with vitamin B12, or receive a B12 supplement.

Insufficient levels of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, which is a low red blood cell count. This form of anemia leads to fatigue, weakness, lack of appetite, weight loss and even constipation.

And while oral absorption of B12 is limited, such “pill form” supplements can certainly correct deficiencies. However, when it come to the oral variety of B12, only one percent of it is actually absorbed by the body, which means you’d need to ingest 1,000mcg of B12 in order for 10mcg to be absorbed — the amount that is sufficient to meet daily requirements and replace body levels gradually.

So why do some doctors recommend injections rather than oral administration of B12? Well, Methylcobalamin (MeCbl), which is the activate form of vitamin B12, has been successfully used to treat a number of diseases and illnesses in studies, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and rheumatoid arthritis. An injection of B12 has also been found to regenerate injured nerves. In addition, recent evidence suggests that MeCbl can alleviate pain behaviors in diabetic neuropathy, low back pain and neuralgia.

Another major benefit of this vitamin is the link between the B vitamins — in particular, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, B-12 and folate — and increased performance for high-performance athletes. The B vitamins are called “micronutrients” and are used to convert proteins and carbohydrates into energy. They are also used for cell repair and production.

Researchers at Oregon State University claim athletes lacking in B vitamins don’t do as well when it comes to high-intensity workouts. And it takes them longer to develop muscle mass or for damaged muscles to mend compared to athletes who eat a diet rich with B vitamins.

And the Oregon report, which was published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, claims that an athlete with even a slight deficiency in B vitamins can measurably display reduced performance and recovery. Further, these same researchers claim the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for B-vitamin use might be inadequate for athletes. That deficiency can only be exacerbated when these athletes are counting calories or maintain a strict eating program.

For instance, athletes who practice a vegetarian regimen are more likely to develop a B-vitamin deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B-12 are limited to animal foods. As a result, vegetarian athletes are perfect candidates for vitamin B-12 supplementation. In addition, fortified breakfast cereals and plant foods can be used as a dietary source of vitamin B-12 for strict vegetarians and vegans.

The total diet is more important than selected vitamins alone. Vegetables and fruits contain a myriad of substances, called phytochemicals, that are important to health, and researchers are far from understanding the full benefits of these phytochemicals. Vitamins from food and from supplements may be the same, depending on the quality control of the supplement manufacturer.

However, if vitamins were obtained primarily from supplements alone, many valuable phytochemicals that could play important roles in health maintenance would be missing.

All vitamins contain organic nutrients that are necessary in small amounts for normal body functioning and good health, and your diet or any supplements you take provide most vitamins. The body can only manufacture vitamins D, K and the B vitamin biotin from non-dietary sources. Vitamins are chemical partners for the enzymes involved in the body’s metabolism, cell production and tissue repair.

Finally, B12 injections should be used with caution by people who use ACE inhibitors, aspirin, nicotine, nitrous oxide, oral contraceptives, potassium chloride and vitamin C, among others, because some of these agents might result in reduced absorption or serum levels of the vitamin. If you’d like to learn more, just ask us the next time you’re in the office for a treatment or visit.

The bottom line on Vitamin B12 injections is this: B12 deficiency is a silent epidemic with serious consequences in certain situations. If you’re fatigued, experiencing a lack of appetite and unexplained weight loss, or if you have frequent bouts with constipation, let us test you to see if your situation is related to a B12 deficiency. And if you’re a high-performance athlete looking for a legitimate and safe edge, ask us about Vitamin B12 Injections.