Friday, May 1, 2015

Should I Take B12 Shots?

Hi Laurie,
I'm a 58-year old man in good health. I don't take any medications, I eat relatively healthy, and stay active. Recently I've been getting tired easily and I wonder if B12 shots would help. I've heard people say they give you energy, but is this just another myth of a vitamin magically making you feel better? Do B12 shots really help?
Thanks, Jim S.

Hi Jim,
Good question, since vitamin B12 shots actually do help some individuals--those who can no longer absorb vitamin B12 when taken orally.

Vitamin B12 has a complicated absorption process. The acid normally present in the stomach is necessary for absorption of this vitamin, as is a healthy portion of the small intestine. So if a person has certain intestinal diseases or specific surgical procedures, they may not be able to absorb B12 from food, and they require monthly B12 shots to prevent a deficiency. 
Reduced stomach acid can occur from a long regimen of antacids, required by some people with GERD, reflux, or peptic ulcer disease. People with this set of circumstances may also require B12 shots. Normally, as people age they also produce less stomach acid. You may be approaching the age where there just isn't enough acid present to do a good job of absorbing B12.

If someone has a diet poor in Vitamin B12, such as a vegan (B12 is found only in animal products and vegans are vegetarians who consume no flesh, eggs, or dairy products), they could simply take a pill containing vitamin B12, so they would not require the vitamin in injectable form.

The first step to take is to see your doctor and describe your symptoms. There are different kinds of anemia (iron-deficient anemia is the most common) and other conditions that can cause fatigue (thyroid imbalance and other hormone level changes). Vitamin B12 will only help correct a B12 deficiency. If you are deficient in B12, aside from taking injections your physician may perform a series of diagnostic tests to find out why. These begin with a simple blood test, so it can be easy to determine whether B12 is involved or not.

Either way, a noticeable change in your usual physical condition warrants a check-up to rule out anything that might be serious, and to fix any number of conditions that can be easily treated to get you back to your usual active life.

No comments:

Post a Comment