Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. It is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system, forming red blood cells, and aiding in DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is unique in that it requires a specific protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor for proper absorption in the small intestine.
Key functions and roles of vitamin B12 include:
- Red Blood Cell Formation: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the proper formation of red blood cells. It helps in the maturation of red blood cells and prevents them from becoming too large and irregular in shape, which is important for preventing a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia.
- Nervous System Support: Vitamin B12 is essential for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. It helps in the production of myelin, a protective covering around nerve fibers that enhances nerve signaling. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
- DNA Synthesis: Vitamin B12 is involved in the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material present in all cells. Adequate levels of B12 are necessary for proper cell division and growth.
- Energy Metabolism: Vitamin B12 plays a role in converting food into energy. It is involved in various enzymatic reactions related to metabolism.
Dietary sources of vitamin B12 are primarily animal-based, including:
- Meat (beef, pork, lamb)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey)
- Fish (salmon, tuna, trout)
- Shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels)
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
For individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, obtaining enough vitamin B12 can be a challenge, as plant-based foods typically do not contain significant amounts of this vitamin. In such cases, fortified foods (like plant-based milk alternatives) and vitamin B12 supplements are recommended to ensure adequate intake.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to various health issues, including anemia, neurological problems, and fatigue. Common causes of deficiency include poor dietary intake, poor absorption due to conditions like pernicious anemia or certain gastrointestinal disorders, and certain medications that interfere with B12 absorption.
Symptoms of vitamin-B12 deficiency
In the absence of sufficient absorption of vitamin B12, our body will start manifesting several deficiency symptoms, such as:
- brain fog
- memory loss
- neurological problems
- heart palpitations
- pale skin
- muscle weakness
- mood changes
- appetite loss
The benefits of vitamin B12 shots
Whenever people find it difficult to maintain adequate vitamin B12 levels, either because they have an absorption problem or follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, B12 supplements often come to their aid. Unlike vitamin B12 tablets that have to go through our stomach before reaching the bloodstream, thus reducing significantly our body’s absorption rate, a vitamin B12 injection delivers the much-needed nutrient directly into our blood and with it the following benefits:
- balanced metabolism
- increased energy levels
- improved cognitive function
- better sleep
- improved bone density
- better mood
- weight loss
Furthermore, regular injections of vitamin B12 may reduce the risk of numerous medical conditions, such as:
- heart disease
- age-related macular degeneration
- vision loss
- neural tube defects
Vitamin B-12 injections are considered to be safe and come with no major adverse effects. The effects of a vitamin B12 shot usually last between 48 and 72 hours after the injection, but since each body is different, the duration may vary.