Recently at a pharmacy I saw a sign “Do you have low energy? Trouble with weight loss? Foggy thinking? Anemia? Get your B12 shots here!”
Many people may be deficient in B12; as a water soluble vitamin we tend to go through it pretty quickly. As we age we tend to lose our ability to process B12 optimally which may lead to deficiency. And deficiency is often found in those who are smokers, pregnant, or breast feeding. Then there are those who have a variety of disorders such as crohn's, celiac disease, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or pernicious anemia. In some cases it can take five or more years before you see signs of deficiency.
The largest population with a tendency toward low B12 is vegetarians and vegans. This is due to the fact that animal foods such as sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, scallops, shrimp, and beef provide the highest levels of B12. It is possible to get it from other food sources, however those are the best ones.
B12 is vital for optimal many body functions. The body uses it to convert carbohydrates into glucose which our body uses for fuel. If we don't have enough, or if we aren't converting properly this can cause fatigue. It also supports a healthy nervous system, helping us to balance stress and contributes to a balanced circulatory system, supporting good cholesterol levels and blood pressure. B12 is also vital for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
But is taking shots the right things to do? There are some claims that the shot can be taken as often as twice a week. However there can be side effects up to and including diarrhea, stomach upset, headache, joint pain, or even flushing, rashes, or hives.
Before simply taking a B12 injection it would be prudent to obtain a comprehensive micronutrient panel to determine if you are actually low. If you are deficient in B12 consider modifying your diet to include more B12 rich foods, supplement orally, and also evaluate if you need appropriate digestive support to ensure you are absorbing what you are putting into your body.