Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. Since this vitamin is water-soluble, taking it in larger amounts usually doesn't cause serious side effects. However, it is best to take it as per the recommended dosage. The health benefits of this vitamin are numerous. It is essential for healthy functioning of the body. Vitamin B12 injections and supplements are therefore recommended for those who have deficiency of the vitamin.
Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Pernicious Anemia: Pernicious anemia occurs due to poor absorption of vitamin B12 in the intestine.
- Vegetarianism: Since vegetables and fruits are not rich in vitamin B12, strict followers of vegetarian diet can experience vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Crohn's Disease: Inflammation of intestine in Crohn's disease severely affects the gastrointestinal tract and it usually results in B12 deficiency.
- Diphyllobothrium Latum: Frequent consumption of raw or pickled fish can cause intestinal infection which in turn may result in B12 deficiency.
- Surgery: Surgical removal of some part of stomach or intestine may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. Even weight loss surgeries, fad diets can cause vitamin deficiency.
- Overdose of Medicines: Excessive consumption of antacids and other heartburn medicines over an extended period disrupts the function of the stomach and leads to digestion problems.
- Blind Loop Syndrome: Bacterial overgrowth and malabsorption of essential nutrients can result in blind loop syndrome which causes obstruction in the passage of digested material, leading to B12 deficiency.
- Atrophic Gastritis: During atrophic gastritis, chronic inflammation of the stomach mucosa leads to several health problems. The gastric glandular cells get replaced with fibrous tissues. This severely affects the secretion of essential substances like hydrochloric acid, pepsin, etc., and eventually results in several digestive problems like vitamin B12 deficiency and megaloblastic anemia.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
- Pale skin
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Weak pulse rate and abnormal heartbeats
- Frequent headache
- Sore tongue, mouth, throat
- Bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite
- Weight Loss
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes
- Dementia (loss of mental abilities, confusion, difficulty concentrating)
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12 Injections
To overcome the problems mentioned above, vitamin B12 injections need to be administered regularly. When you take the vitamin orally, only a small part is absorbed by the body. Severe deficiency of vitamin B12 can deprive the tissues and organs of the oxygen they need to survive. Eggs, fish, poultry, dairy products and especially lamb liver provide high amounts of vitamin B12.
But these foods cannot help overcome severe deficiency of the vitamin and patients need to take B12 injections regularly. Patients (for example, those diagnosed with pernicious anemia) who cannot absorb the required amount of vitamin B12 from the consumed food because of affected dietary tract, require these injections to raise the level of the vitamin in the body.
This is the only way for them and it really helps boost their energy levels. B12 injections of 1 - 2 mg per day are prescribed for quick adjustment of the level of the vitamin in the body. The injections help correct severe deficiencies. It has been noticed that many patients of Alzheimer's disease suffer from B12 deficiency
- B12 promotes growth, development and proper working of the nervous system and the brain.
- It improves body metabolism.
- It is required to prevent diabetes, insomnia, allergies, osteoporosis, asthma, etc.
- B12 helps generate DNA and healthy red blood cells.
- It improves your concentration and stamina.
- It helps minimize the chances of pernicious anemia, Alzheimer's disease.
- These injections help lower the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid present in the blood. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine can affect the health of your heart and can lead to heart attacks or stroke. Studies show that B12 deficiency results in high levels of homocysteine in blood.
- Since B12 injections help improve the rate of body metabolism, taking vitamin B12 injections for weight loss is a new trend. It is believed that vitamin B12 shots lead to an increase in the energy level which allows people to do more physical activities and exercises, and that is perhaps the real reason behind weight loss.
- The scientists of Johns Hopkins University checked vitamin B12 levels in the blood serum of women with and without breast cancer. Vitamin B12 levels were lower in women with breast cancer than the women without breast cancer. But more studies are required to prove that low vitamin B12 levels increase the risk of breast cancer.
You should inform the doctor about your routine medicines, before taking the shots. The injections may affect the absorption and impact of the antibiotic tetracycline. So, tetracycline and a B12 injection should not be taken at the same time of the day.
Vitamin B12 overdose does not lead to any major health problems. People rarely suffer from these adverse effects. Headache, stomach upset, nausea and loss of appetite may be experienced by some people after taking vitamin B12 injections. They may experience some pain and warmth at the body part; where they have received the injections. But the benefits of B12 injections greatly outweigh the small side effects.