Do you have low energy? Are you a vegetarian? Are you on birth control pill?
A shot in the arm may be what you need for good health. You may have heard of vitamin B12 and folate, but what do they do and why do you need them? B12 (cobalamin) and folate (or folic acid) work together to perform many vital functions in the body. Together they help form DNA, red blood cells and components of the nervous system. Another important function of B12 and folate is to break down homocysteine, a protein known to contribute to heart disease.
Because they are so involved in the basic functions of the body, many health conditions can benefit from B12 and folate:
- chronic fatigue,
- neurological conditions (MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetic neuropathy etc),
- auto-immune disorders,
- heart disease,
- eye conditions,
- male infertility
- chronic ringing in the ear
- frequent illness…just to name a few.
B12 is naturally available from animal products such as eggs and meat. It is absorbed via a series of digestive events that requires adequate levels of stomach acid, enzymes and a specific protein, intrinsic factor. As we age, our ability to digest and absorb B12 decreases. Also certain medications deplete B12 from our bodies. It can take up to 5 years before any outward symptoms of B2 deficiency shows, however, by that time, the damage has been done. Folate, on the other hand, is available from green leafy vegetables and mushrooms.
Who should consider B12 injections
The following conditions or lifestyle will make you susceptible to B12 deficiency:
- diets lacking green leafy vegetables
- digestive health problems – Crohn’s or Colitis
- taking antacids and acid lowering drugs
- alcoholism and addictions,
- women on estrogen therapy or
- hormonal birth control
- following medications: anticonvulsants, gout medication, antibiotics, oral anti-fungal medication, diabetic medication, ulcer medication, certain heart medications, tricyclic antidepressants, may all need to receive B12-folate injections.
Are You B12-Deficient?
The first step is to see your doctor to test your B12 levels. But that’s not the whole story.
- The accepted range of normal for this test is very large, in fact, too large by many health professionals standards. For this reason for many patients it is important to consider their history, symptoms and lifestyle to determine if B12 is essential for optimal health.
- As mentioned above, it can take up to 5 years before any outward symptoms of B12 deficiency shows, however, by that time, the damage has been done.
- To make matters even more complicated it is important to know the test only measures how much B12 is floating around in the blood and does not accurately reflect what is actually being used.
Signs of low B12 levels:
- sore tongue,
- tingling and numbness in your fingers and toes,
- difficulty walking,
- mood change
- memory loss
I am B12 Deficient, Now What?
Here is what you need to know:
There are 3 types of B12 and they are not created equally. Dr. Richards uses the highest quality B12 – Methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the fastest and longest acting B12 and it is natural. The other and the most common B12 you get from your pharmacist is called Cyanocobalamin. Yes, “cyano” and yes it has cyanide in it. It is a synthetic form of B12 that has to be converted to the active form in your body.
B12 is water soluble so whatever you don’t need you will pee out. It doesn’t build up in your body. That means that you likely won’t see any negative side effects from too much.
How Often do I need B12 Injections?
MethylCobalamin can stay in the body for a week to a few months. The duration will depend on how fast your body uses up the B12. This will determine how often you will need each injection.