Vitamin B12 is a key player in protein metabolism, the formation of red blood cells, and nervous system health. Even though a wide variety of animal-based foods contain the nutrient, vitamin B12 deficiency still manages to affect a significant number of people. Our excellent team of clinicians at ProHealth Physical Medicine in Studio City, Los Angeles offer vitamin B12 injections to treat or help prevent this critical and all-too-common nutritional deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning any remaining amount that your body can’t use leaves your body through your urine. Still, your body can store a certain degree of the nutrient in your liver, for use when your diet may not supply enough. In addition to being critical to your blood’s ability to transport oxygen to all the cells in your body, vitamin B12 is also essential to neurological function.
Animal proteins, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products all have the vitamin. Certain types of nutritional yeast also contain vitamin B12, as do products that have been specifically fortified with the nutrient.
Yes. Vegans -- those who don’t consume any type of animal product including dairy -- are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency unless they take specific measures to supplement or consume fortified food products. But even if your diet includes plenty of animal proteins, you still may be at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. That’s because vitamin B12 is bound to protein, and can only be released and absorbed by digestive substances in the stomach (hydrochloric acid and gastric protease). Unfortunately, that can make it harder for people with gastrointestinal disorders to absorb a sufficient amount of the nutrient from the foods they consume.
Similarly, patients with lower levels of stomach acid may also have a difficult time releasing the vitamin for absorption. That often affects older adults, who are more likely to experience a decline in stomach acid with age.
Vitamin B12 deficiency affects as much as 15% of the population, and it's typically accompanied by fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, constipation, and weight loss. If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause neurological changes, such as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Additional symptoms include poor balance, confusion, difficulty remembering, and depression. Because these neurological changes can become permanent, it’s important for vitamin B12 deficiency to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
Vitamin B12 injections are the best way to treat a deficiency or prevent one in someone who may be prone. That’s because the form of the nutrient that the practitioner injects isn’t bound to anything, making it readily available for absorption, even for patients who have trouble absorbing it from their diet.
Because a B12 injection bypasses all potential barriers to absorption, it can help reverse deficiency symptoms relatively fast. Vitamin B12 injections have also been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping to increase energy and reduce fatigue. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, have an intestinal disorder, or are older than 65, you should consider finding out your current vitamin B12 status.
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