Symptoms and Treatment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is important for your immune system and mood. Hospitals are now marketing vitamin injections to healthy people. Do you need all that?

Why do you need vitamin B12?

This vitamin takes part in the formation of red blood cells. It optimizes the function of your nervous system, and helps the body turn food into energy. Vitamin B12 regulates immunity and mood, and also regulates levels of homocysteine. High levels of this amino acid may lead to heart disease. If you eat a lot of meat, fish, eggs and dairy, you don’t have to worry about your vitamin B12 levels. Vegans should take fortified food and supplements.

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

Adults should take 1.5mcg each day, but according to the US National Institutes of Health, you need 2.4mcg. Pregnant women and breastfeeding moms should take more of this vitamin. According to a recent study, one in 12 women aged 19-39 lack vitamin B12.

Symptoms and causes of vitamin B12 deficiency

The lack of this vitamin causes fatigue, faintness, headache, pale skin, loss of appetite, weight loss, pins and needles, and sore, red tongue.

Pernicious anaemia is one of the most main causes of this deficiency. It may also be caused by conditions damaging the stomach or small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur as a result of gastrectomies (surgical removal of part of the stomach) and medication. According to researchers, there is a gene variation that’s associated with the lack of vitamin B12. Long-term deficiencies cause serious heart and neurological issues.

Do you lack vitamin B12?

Elderly are more common to deal with this deficiency. One in 10 people aged 75 and more lack vitamin B12, one in 20 aged between 65 and 74, and younger individuals are less likely to struggle with this deficiency. This doesn’t apply to vegans as the number of individuals lacking vitamin B12 is really high. This vitamin is measured in blood serum, and doctors often look for enlarged red blood cells. There is a new set of tests that are more precise, but aren’t available in every part of the country.

Catherine Collins, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, explains that blood tests are largely reliable, suggesting that some people who fall within the normal range still need to boost their vitamin B12 intake. However, she says there isn’t any need to make drastic change to the intake.

According to Dr. Ayan Panja, a GP in St. Albans, vitamin B12 deficiency is underdiagnosed which explains migraines, cramps, indigestion, sleep issues, dementia and depression.

Vitamin B12 injections

Vitamin deficiencies are usually treated with pills. Those who can’t absorb vitamin B12 from the stomach are given hydroxocobalamin, an injectable form of this vitamin. The injections are given six times in 14 days, and then the therapy goes once every three months. Individuals diagnosed with neurological symptoms should receive more of this vitamin.

Tracey Witty started off a petition for injectable B12, demanding that it’s made available over the counter which is the case in France and Germany. According to her, the dose is excreted within 24 hours and patients have to wait really long to get injections. Some even order it online from abroad.

B12 injections are available on the high street

Intravenous vitamin administration first became popular in the 1980s. Dr. John Myers of Baltimore was offering his “Myers cocktails” to treat numerous health conditions. Alternative health practitioners have their IV lounges in North America. A great number of celebrities use these injections, including Madonna, Justin Bieber and Rita Ora. This has turned into a tradition, and there’s a huge number of spas, IV lounges and clinics offering these injections. According to the website of one London clinic, vitamin injections aid in the treatment of anemia, promote weight loss, give energy, boost energy and strengthen immunity. This therapy is of utmost importance in the prevention of diseases.

Are B12 injections used for non-medical purposes?

Scientists haven’t found evidence that supports the claim that these injections help those who don’t lack vitamin B12. The doses are higher than the amount your body absorbs, so most of the vitamin is excreted through urine.

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, founder of Nosh Detox, sells these injections and infusions at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, London. Vitamin injections are really helpful for her patients. Geeta says there is a difference between feeling OK and feeling great.

She went on explaining that B12 injections for healthy people trigger an aura of fabricated need. Geeta compares it to having a plaster placed on your knee and being cuddled when you fall over.