- Duration 30-45 mins
- Practitioner Jenny Cader
- Vitamin B12 Injections £35
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body. It is a cofactor in DNA synthesis, and in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. It is particularly important in the normal functioning of the nervous system via its role in the synthesis of myelin, and in the maturation of developing red blood cells in the bone marrow.
Most omnivorous people in developed countries obtain enough vitamin B12 from consuming animal products, including meat, milk, eggs, and fish. Grain-based foods are often fortified by having the vitamin added to them. Pharmaceutical preparations may be given by intramuscular injection. Because there are few non-animal sources of the vitamin, vegans are advised to consume a dietary supplement or fortified foods for B12 intake, or risk serious health consequences.
The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency in developed countries is impaired absorption due to a loss of gastric intrinsic factor, which must be bound to food-source B12 in order for absorption to occur. A second major cause is age-related decline in stomach acid production (achlorhydria), because acid exposure frees protein-bound vitamin. For the same reason, people on long-term antacid therapy, using proton-pump inhibitors, H2 blockers or other antacids are at increased risk. Deficiency may be characterised by limb neuropathy or a blood disorder called pernicious anaemia, a type of megaloblastic anaemia. Folate levels in the individual may affect the course of pathological changes and symptomatology of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is part of the vitamin B family and so plays an important role in the body’s production of energy and the maintenance of the nervous system. B12 is also essential for the proper development and function of red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA and RNA neurotransmitters. There is promising evidence that B12 may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia, especially when taken in combination with vitamin B6 and folic acid.
Vitamin B12 has an extensive list of potential health benefits, including:
Energy: B12 plays an important role in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, which is the body’s main source of fuel. It is thought that B12, along with the other B vitamins, helps to maintain sustained energy levels and may even boost athletic performance and endurance.
Healthy red blood cells: Low levels of B12 affect the normal division of red blood cells and the replication of DNA which can result in the production of abnormally large cells (macrocytosis).
Nervous system: B12 promotes normal neurological activity, mental clarity and emotional stability. There is a growing body of evidence which supports the use of B12 in the reduction of age-related brain shrinkage.
Homocysteine levels and heart health: A long list of heart-related conditions is linked to excessive homocysteine levels, including high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. It is thought that vitamin B12 helps to normalise homocysteine levels to reduce the risk of these conditions.
Memory: High homocysteine levels are also closely linked to the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that a combination of B12, B6 and folic acid can help to reduce homocysteine levels, and potentially reduce the risk of such brain disorders.
Hair skin and nails: B12 is essential for healthy cell reproduction and so supports the renewal and repair of cells in the hair, skin and nails.
Tinnitus: Studies have found that people suffering from tinnitus are often vitamin B12 deficient. However, the evidence is inconclusive and more studies are required.
B12 Deficiency Side Effects
When the body’s B12 levels are too low several functions become disrupted. It reduces the production of healthy new blood cells, which can cause significant damage over time and can lead to pernicious anaemia which causes memory loss, confusion and even dementia.
You are more at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency if you fall into one of the following groups:
- Eat a strict vegetarian diet
- Consume excessive amounts of alcohol
- Are pregnant
- Suffer from digestive problems such as coeliac disease or Crohn’s
- Are over the age of 50.
- Adults over the age of 50 are more likely to have low levels of B12 because the ageing digestive system loses the ability to absorb B12 due to a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This stomach acid is needed to free vitamin B12 from the proteins it is bound to in foods and allow the body to absorb it.
- Vegetarians are unable to get B12 from the natural diet because plants contain no B12, and so they need to consume fortified foods or supplements alongside their normal diet.
The most common signs of vitamin b12 deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Vision problems
- Poor memory
- Bleeding gums and mouth sores
- Stomach upset and diarrhea
|Vitamin B12 Injections