Who Should Consider Taking B12 Shots?
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people consume adequate amounts of B vitamins through their diet, though the elderly, particularly those with pernicious anemia, athletes, strict vegetarians and people who consume a lot of alcohol may be deficient in the B vitamins and may require injections or oral supplementation of B vitamins or vitamin B12, in particular.
Vitamin B12 is one of eight different B vitamins and provides a number of benefits for the human body. The vitamin plays a key role in the maintenance and functioning of virtually all cells in the human body and also provides some of the material required for the replication of DNA. Beyond the essential role it plays with the development of cells, Vitamin B12 also helps with the body's ability to metabolize fatty acids and its ability to produce energy.
Vitamin B12 is produced by a number of different types of bacteria, none of which live inside human beings; therefore, people can only obtain the vitamin by ingesting it through various foods created by animals that do contain the appropriate types of bacteria. Despite some claims made by unscrupulous businesses trying to capitalize on this fact among vegans-people that eat no products coming from animals- no plants have been shown to contain adequate amounts of B12 to meet human dietary requirements. This has lead to many vegans taking B12 shots.
Most well nourished people receive the minimum amounts of Vitamin B12 they need naturally through eating various animal products: meats and dairy products. Further, today many other products like milk and bread are fortified with additional Vitamin B12. The human liver also stores Vitamin B12, usually enough to meet the body's needs for several years. All of this means that Vitamin B12 deficiency is not a common problem faced by most people.
Symptoms of B12 Defiency
Nevertheless, a deficiency can be serious when it occurs, resulting in a wide range of problems including constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, and weight loss. In more serious cases, a deficiency of Vitamin B12 can result in megaloblastic anemia and neurological problems, such as numbness. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you should consider if taking B12 injections is right for you.
Groups Who Should Be Concerned about B12 Deficiency
Though rare, there are certain groups that face an increased risk of Vitamin B12 deficiencies. One of these at risk groups are strict vegetarians and vegans. As noted above, the natural ingestion of Vitamin B12 comes exclusively from animal products, so strict vegans that do not ingest any foods coming from animals are at risk of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, the old stereotype of extreme vegetarians being weak and lethargic and generally unhealthy may stem from Vitamin B12 deficiency, which was far more common before many non-animal products were regularly fortified. The best option for vegans today is to eat cereals and soy products that have been fortified with Vitamin B12 or to take a B12 shot regularly.
Another group of people that face an increased risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency are people with gastrointestinal disorders or those that have undergone gastrointestinal surgery. The body's absorption process for Vitamin B12 is extremely complex and much of it is done in the stomach by a protein known as the intrinsic Factor. This protein is synthesized by the stomach's gastric parietal cells, therefore if these cells have been damaged or otherwise stopped producing the Intrinsic Factor, the body fails to absorb Vitamin B12 and it is simply excreted through the colon. As a result it is not uncommon for doctors to place people with gastrointestinal problems on a supplementary Vitamin B12 regiman by giving them B12 shots regularly.