How many of us have gone for those vitamin B12 booster shots after a really tiring and stressful year? One of the easiest remedies for fatigue, stress and overall exhaustion vitamin B12 injections are frequently recommended and are among the most recognised treatments among both practitioners and patients.
How many of us have gone for those vitamin B12 booster shots after a really tiring and stressful year? One of the easiest remedies for fatigue, stress and overall exhaustion vitamin B12 injections are frequently recommended and are among the most recognised treatments among both practitioners and patients. The benefits are not as fully appreciated as they should be however, as B12 affects some core functions of the body and mind, and is not just a remedy for tiredness! Luckily vitamin B12 is synthetically produced, as historically the first and best source of it was liver, and very few people enjoy eating liver nowadays. Other sources are eggs, meat and fish, yeast products and some vegetables. Liver gives us up to 100 times what almost any other source can, and so is definitely the best choice. The benefits of this vitamin are mainly to the blood and brain systems of the body. Two different types of anaemias are treated with B12 successfully, namely megaloblastic and pernicious anaemias. Vitamin B12 was in fact “discovered” while searching for a treatment for pernicious anaemia, an autoimmune disease in which the gut is unable to absorb iron and B12 from food sources due to deficiencies in B12 and intrinsic factors. In megaloblastic anaemia the bone marrow just makes huge, badly functioning blood cells that crowd out the good cells and don't do any of the things they need to, like carry oxygen. Thus all the exhaustion and concentration problems. The nervous system deficiency symptoms are a bit more subtle and also easy to confuse with problems of other origins. Tingling in the hands and feet, slight problems with memory and concentration, unstable mood and depression for no reason are the warning signs we need to look out for, but the extreme deficiency symptoms are truly alarming. These can be problems with nerve signals to the muscles and Alzheimer's disease, and these symptoms can be regarded as permanent. B12 can be used to protect brain and nerve function as well as to treat. But why do our B12 levels get so low? Unfortunately there are so many reasons for the deficiency that almost all of us could experience it at least once during our lifetimes. Besides the obvious deficiencies due to too little intake, B12 absorption can also be limited by pernicious anaemia, low acidity in the stomach or surgical removal of the parts of the stomach and intestines that absorb the B12. Another culprit is the host of chronic medications that are routinely handed out and which affect B12 levels, like metformin, proton pump inhibitors, some anti-epileptics and some ARVs. These patients should take supplements with B12 under their doctor's guidance. Another culprit is excessive alcohol consumption. Luckily most of the deficiency symptoms are quickly reversed by those pesky B12 shots, and if you can't handle those, there are oral supplement forms that work well.