Vitamin B12 shots are given to prevent or treat vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin or hydroxocobalamin, is a vital nutrient that helps make DNA and hemoglobin. It keeps your nerves and brain healthy and plays an important role in improving concentration and preventing age-related memory loss. Vitamin B12 shot may be prescribed to prevent or treat the following:
- Pernicious anemia (a condition in which there are low red blood cell counts due to an abnormality in B12 absorption by the intestines)
- Megaloblastic anemia (a type of anemia in which there are very large red blood cells called megaloblasts)
- Cognitive disorders, such as dementia (a disorder characterized by problems with memory, problem-solving abilities, language, etc.)
- Disorders that affect B12 absorption, such as pancreatic diseases, intestinal infections, Crohn’s disease, and tropical sprue
- Cardiovascular disease risk (by lowering blood homocysteine levels, which is a compound associated with an increased risk of heart problems)
- Multiple sclerosis symptoms
- Bell’s palsy recovery
- B12 deficiencies related to:
- Weight loss
- Vegan or restrictive diets
- Surgery to remove the part of the stomach or the ileum (the last part of the small intestine)
- Energy and endurance
What are signs of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency signs may include:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Pale skin
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Numbness and tingling
- Poor concentration
- Memory impairment
- Sore mouth or tongue
- Disturbed sleep
- Frequent infections
What are the side effects of a B12 shot?
Vitamin B12 injections are generally safe. If side effects do occur, they are generally mild and may include:
- Pain, discomfort, swelling, or redness at the injection site
- Numbness or tingling
Serious side effects are rare and may include:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Muscle pain, cramps, or weakness
- Extreme thirst
- Facial flushing
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing or noisy breathing (wheezing)
- Extreme pain, swelling, warmth or tenderness in one leg
- Difficulty swallowing
- Itching over the body
If you experience serious side effects, contact your doctor right away.
What precautions should you take with vitamin B12 shots?
While taking vitamin B12 shots as energy boosters at health spas has become a rising trend, it’s important to exercise caution. Vitamin B12 shots should be taken only in prescribed doses and administered by a licensed medical practitioner.
Before taking a B12 shot, tell your doctor if you:
- Are allergic to B12, cobalt or any multivitamin combinations
- Have vision issues or Leber’s disease (a genetic condition that causes vision loss)
- Have any infections
- Have been diagnosed with folic acid deficiency or iron deficiency
- Are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant
- Are taking any supplements, including herbal supplements
- Are taking any medications, such as folic acid, methotrexate, chloramphenicol, colchicine, para-aminosalicylic acid (PAS), or pyrimethamine
- Have liver or kidney disease
- Have a drinking problem
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