From tablets, to injectable, to being added to every second energy drink on the market, is a B12 Shot the real deal?
B12 is the energy vitamin. It increases energy levels by assisting the utilisation of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It helps with the general iron function within the body as well as the production of the amino acid, methadone. It is one of the precursors to the formation of the feel-good chemicals, serotonin and dopamine.
We need B12 to help us grow, to control our appetite and crucially for the production of healthy red blood cells. B12 assists in the recycling of essential enzymes that maintain the health of the nervous system and healthy cell functions throughout the body. It is necessary in order to create the ‘myelin sheath’ – the covering that surrounds the nerves that are responsible for quick nerve impulses.
B12 deficiencies are quite common. There are several possible reasons for this:-
As B12 is only present in meat & food of animal origin, vegetarians and Vegans in particular run a high risk of depleting their B12 vitamin levels. While alcoholics may have high levels of B12 in their blood levels of B12 in the tissues and liver can be very low. Other people may simply have an inherited inability to absorb B12 effectively.
Why the shot then? A B12 injection gives you an intense, high potency hit that is believed to be easily assimilated by the body and provide it with a healthy and energising boost. Many people have reported increased energy levels and stamina for everyday tasks, reduced incidence of depression and stress and improved or stabilised mood. When I was coaching a triathlon team on the Gold Coast, most of my adult athletes either had a B12 shot 2-5 days out from race day or had a regular shot once a month to once a quarter as part of their program. All my athletes felt the B12 shot kept them energized, sharp with increased stamina potential during training, racing and all round performance.
Studies have shown that B12 is most effective during times of stress. This is why athletes and many people in high energy working environments take B-Complex supplements. When we are stressed we are more likely to be drained of B12 and if our diet is not keeping up, we could end up suffering from low levels of this important vitamin. The result of this is low levels of energy, just when you need it most.
Scientific studies have shown that vitamin injections are much more efficient than tablets or capsules. The body’s ability to absorb large amounts of orally taken vitamins is poor. When swallowed, the molecular structure of the vitamin is compromised by the acids and enzymes within the digestive system. An injected vitamin does not suffer the same problem. It therefore has a higher absorption and retention rate and it reaches the bloodstream faster and more directly than orally digested vitamins. This also means more bang for your buck.
The safest way to receive your B12 shot is to have a doctor or nurse administer it. Usually in the Buttock, leg or arm. In general it is considered a very safe procedure with few if any side effects. Some redness or swelling can occur at the injection site, but this should disappear within 48hours. There have been some cases of sensitivity to cobalt or the B12 itself, but this is considered very rare. If this happens, you must discontinue any further B12 treatment. Studies have not shown any toxic effects from mega-doses of B12, which have been injected intravenously and intramuscularly, often thousands of times above the recommended daily allowance. B12 shots are thought to be most effective when taken at regular times in quantities of 500-1000mcg. In some cases of severe B12 deficiency, injections have been uses regularly every few days for a month or two, in order to give the body a big hit of the vitamin. The dosage and when you will take it is something you will need to discuss with your doctor and will vary from person to person.
One of the most common signs of B12 deficiency is fatigue and it is here that B12 offers the most to the non-deficient person. Doctors have long used B12 injections as a cure for fatigue and according to some reports, including double-blind studies; people who are no deficient have experienced increased energy following a series of vitamin B12 injections. People with chronic fatigue syndrome have responded even more favourably. Despite this evidence some doctors remain unconvinced and reluctant to administer B12 for such cases.
A vitamin B12 deficiency may be hard to detect. This is because the liver stores a five year supply of B12 that it can draw on at any time. Eventually a B12 deficiency will lead to the production of abnormally large red blood cells, a condition called macrocytic anaemia, characterised by the shortness of breath resulting from lack of oxygen in the blood. Pernicious anaemia is also a known consequence of low B12 levels.
A B12 deficiency can lead to the death of nerve cells, resulting in a loss of feeling in the hands and feet. A lack of co-ordination, confusion, irritability and loss of memory. It can affect the general absorption of nutrients in the gut, which can affect your health status and immunity.
B12 has been used to control appetite, to help people with sleeping problems, stimulate the production of melatonin and for the low motivation of people suffering from depression and anxiety.
So weather you need a general pick me up or you’re an athlete, trying to maintain performance levels, why don’t you ask the B12 injection question the next time you visit your local GP
Last Modified on 15/11/2012 12:50