What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is the generic name for a group of compounds based on the cobalamin molecule that has cobalt as the trace mineral at its core. It is classified as a vitamin as it is an essential nutrient for the human body and is regularly obtained from the food we eat. Like other vitamins its role is to catalyse or regulate metabolic reactions in the body. There are many natural ways to gain Vitamin B12, mostly through eating animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products.
Vitamin B12 is absorbed into our tissues through the digestive tract, however this process can be disrupted from poor digestion, intestinal disease or the use of some medications etc. Main causes are due to atrophic gastritis and lack of Intrinsic Factor (IF), a glycoprotein produced by the stomach that is required for the absorption of B12. As well as from poor diet and digestion. There are no known sources of vitamin B12 in plants, although some species of seaweed have been found to contain it. Therefore it is quite common to see vegetarians or vegans present with vitamin B12 deficiencies. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can also be affected by a genetic condition such as:
- Pernicious anaemia
- Crohn’s disease
- Treatment with proton-pump inhibitors
- Atrophic gastritis
- Coeliac disease
- Use of antacids (acid is required to release B12 from food)
- Gastrointestinal surgery
- Use of certain medications
- Use of illegal drugs and substances
As most of the reasons for Vitamin B12 deficiency are due to poor absorption of vitamin B12 during the digestive process by taking a shot, you are bypassing the GI tract and allowing for up to 100% absorption into the body straight into the cells.
The true prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency today is not known. This is because;
Studies may be more focused towards specific groups such as vegetarians.
- Widespread refusal to accept that vitamin B12 deficiency exists. Perhaps by pharmaceutical companies that have nothing to gain by people becoming well.
- Patients can fail the test for B12, despite showing all the symptoms.
- Criteria is set that only extreme cases of B12 deficiency is diagnosed and treated.
How vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed
The traditional way of diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency has been with a serum B12 blood test to determine the patients B12 levels as well as the presence of any signs or symptoms of pernicious anaemia. The problem with this is that many sufferers of a B12 deficiency may not have anaemia or have a serum B12 blood level within an abnormally low range in accordance to the ‘normal’ ranges set. There are no national or international agreements of what a normal range is. The tests can also give false readings where they do not assess the bioavailability of the B12 or whether it is functional of not. It is therefore better practice to look for trigger symptoms; Key triggers or symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are:
- Hair loss
- Pins & needles
- Numbness in the hands or feet
- Tremors or palsies
- Recurrent headaches
What can I expect during the treatment?
The procedure is very quick, the area will be cleaned with an alcohol wipe before the injection is given into the muscle at the top of the arm.
Are there any side effects?
Vitamin B12 injections are generally considered to be very safe. They have no major side effects, however, in very rare cases, some people can experience side effects caused by allergic reactions or sensitivity.
Vitamin B12 Shots at a glance
Price: £25 per shot or £60 for a course of 3.
Results: As it’s an intramuscular injection the effects of the injections are fast acting. If clients have a B12 deficiency, some clients report an improvement in symptoms within 48 hours.
Risks: Experience has shown that vitamin B12 is completely safe, at any concentration in the diet and in the blood.
- The non-toxicity of Vitamin B12 is confirmed by the US National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements which states that the US Institute of Medicine (IoM) has not established any upper limit for B12 ‘because of its low toxicity’. The IoM states that ‘no adverse effects have been associated with excess vitamin B12 intake from food and supplements in healthy individuals’.
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that the European Committee on Food (SCF) has concluded that ‘it is not possible to derive an upper intake level, mainly because no clearly identified adverse effect could be identified’.