Vitamin B12 is a very complex water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, in the production of red blood cells and to help iron to function properly. It is normally involved in the metabolism of each cell in the body, and also helps metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for energy production. B12 also works with folate (vitamin B9) to produce the amino acid Methionine (crucial building block of proteins necessary for a state of a healthy body) and amino acid SAMe which controls mood and supports immune function. An intramuscular injection of B12 will pump up the neutrophils (the most abundant white blood cells in the blood), our first responders to infection.
B12 is also a co-factor in the synthesis of Melatonin (the “vampire horomone” – triggered by darkness and suppressed by light), all the catecholamines (1.Dopamine– “the happy neurotransmitter” -reward system, behaviour, sex, movement, motivation, 2.Norepinephrine – alertness, energy and 3.Epinephrine – “fight-or-flight” response to stress) and Serotonin (the “feel good” hormone -mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning). Consequently B12 deficiency affects mood, emotions and sleeping and can lead to psychiatric disorders.
What are the natural sources of vitamin B12?
It is found in many foods such as: meats, eggs, cheeses (like mozzarella, Parmesan, and Swiss), shellfish like clams and mussels, caviar, fish, crabs, lobster, milk and beef. These are all animal products. This makes it difficult for people following a strict vegetarian diet to get the necessary amount of vitamin B12. Now, new research suggests that even those who follow a more relaxed vegetarian diet are also at risk of developing B12 deficiencies.
Why an injection and not a pill?
One of the major benefits of B12 injections (intramuscular) over oral supplements is its immediate availability to the body. Injections that go directly into the blood stream bypass the regular absorption barriers (stomach acidity, liver conjugation, kidneys excretion) and also can help people with malabsorption issues like those who have intestinal disorders or have undergone intestinal surgeries. Also, absorption of B12 sublingual drops (under the tongue) chews or simply pills is dramatically reduced in time as one takes them so the dose must go up continuously in order to achieve the same results.
A B12 deficiency can result from a lack of intrinsic factor, a substance needed to absorb B12. One cause is low hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This can be aggravated by chronic use of prescription and non-prescription acid blockers. Low HCL is also common in elderly populations. The presence of a bacterium (Helicobacter pylori) associated with stomach ulcers has also been associated with low B12 levels.
Why would you use it? What are the benefits?
There are several reasons WHY.
- The injection contains 500 times more vitamin B12 than the recommended daily dosage.
- When injected intramuscularly (in the shoulder mucles- posterior deltoid), vitamin B12 is easily absorbed by the body and then utilized in the formation of red blood cells, as well as aiding in the maintenance of a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system.
- The 3 major health benefits of vitamin B12 injections are an increase in energy, improved sleep patterns, and a feeling of alertness.
- Deficiencies can cause mood swings, impaired brain function, tingling, and numbness. Anemia can also result from a deficiency in vitamin B12.
- Prevents irreversible neurological impairment – peripheral and central nervous system deterioration can occur due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Its deficiency has been linked to demyelination of the nerves and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- It reduces serum homocysteine levels (this is a amino acid, a breakdown product of protein metabolism) which when elevated has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- It naturally declines with advancing age; the same happens with the production of HCL too making elderly population very vulnerable to B12 deficiency.
What are the symptoms of B12 deficiency?
- Anemia, fatigue
- Memory loss, confusion, delirium and paranoia
- Hyper-pigmentation of the skin
- Neurological disorders (migraines, neuritis, peripheral neuropathy, sciatica, facial paralysis, trigeminal neuralgia)
- Psychiatric symptoms (anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (constipation, diarrhea, dyspepsia)
- Musculoskeletal (back pain, bursitis, muscle cramps, osteoporosis).
Is it safe?
There is also no risk of overdose of this vitamin; it has no upper limit in dosing.