What does vitamin B12 do for my body? How can B12 supplements help me?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps with:

  • production of elements of DNA and hormones, including serotonin – which helps regulate mood
  • production of red blood cells and prevention of anemia
  • regeneration of bone marrow and the lining of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts
  • health of your nervous system, which includes your spinal cord

What happens when my body is low on B12?

Some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 1.5% and 15% of the public. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and mouth sores.

Where does vitamin B12 come from?

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. The following foods have the highest amounts of B12:

  • Beef liver and clams, which are the best sources of vitamin B12.
  • Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products, which also contain vitamin B12.
  • Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other food products that are fortified with vitamin B12. To find out if vitamin B12 has been added to a food product, check the product labels.

How soon will I feel effects?

Some patients will feel benefit within the first month, but most will feel benefits in 3 months, when the body has fully replaced the blood volume with new red blood cells. Vitamin B12 has not been shown to cause any harm.

Who is most at risk of having low B12 levels?

The following are the most at risk:

  • Many older adults, who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb vitamin B12 present in food.
  • People with pernicious anemia whose bodies do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12.
  • People who have had intestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, which may reduce the amount of vitamin B12 the body can absorb.
  • Some people who eat little or no animal foods such as vegetarians and vegans.

How often can I get the B12 injection?

We recommend patients receive B12 once a month, but you may come in every 2 weeks if you desire a more aggressive approach to reaching your goals. B12 dissolves in water and your body cannot store up B12 long-term.