Of all the B vitamins, B12 has received the most exposure lately. From news reports to health studies to diet regimens and other health-oriented outlets, it seems like B12 is truly everywhere. And it’s not simply hype. Vitamin B12’s role in metabolism, central nervous system function and red blood cell production cannot be overlooked.
For a better understanding of what exactly Vitamin B12 is and how it can benefit your health, our team of health consultants put together the following blog. Enjoy!
What is Vitamin B12 – and Why Is It Such a Big Deal?
The current shining star of the B group of vitamins is, numerically, last in line. But in terms of pure importance to health, it’s right at the top of the list.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. Since it dissolves in water, it’s relatively easy to absorb into the body’s tissue, blood and cells. Certain medical conditions and other factors can limit B12’s ability to be processed efficiently (more on that later).
The entire group of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, B9 and a few others, are all involved in cell metabolism in some way. A healthy metabolism helps your body utilize nutrients properly, keeps excess pounds off and also maintains an ideal body weight. Vitamin B12’s impact on weight loss is significant; if you’re overweight, you may be B12 deficient. Banner Urgent Care’s Medical Weight Loss Program, which has helped thousands of people achieve greater health, uses intramuscular injectable Vitamin B12 to aid in effortless, maintainable weight loss.
It’s important to keep in mind that Vitamin B12’s metabolic benefits are just one of many. B12 is unique because its metabolic enhancement characteristics extend to red blood cells in bone marrow. Plus, B12 is also essential for healthy nerve proteins.
B12’s paramount position atop the B group hierarchy is reflected in the types of side effects brought about by a deficiency in the vitamin. Let’s look at what a lack of Vitamin B12 can do to your body.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency – Causes, Consequences and More
So how does somebody become deficient in Vitamin B12? Doctors and health experts have asked this question for years – and there is a litany of reasons as to why.
When talking about any vitamin deficiency, the first thing you do is follow the food. Diet is the biggest reason for lack of B12. Other causes are fairly common, including basic metabolic diseases, autoimmune problems (Crohn’s Disease and lupus, for example), other vitamin shortages and even hormonal imbalance. To check your own B12, a blood test can determine whether you’re getting enough of this vital vitamin.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Nerve problems
- Equilibrium imbalance
- Partial or complete vision loss
- Loss of color in skin
- Breathing problems
- Minor heart palpitations
On a more serious note, prolonged or severe lack of B12 has been tied to:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Neurological disorders, including MS (multiple sclerosis)
- Certain types of cancer
Not enough Vitamin B12 is also related to crippling migraine headaches. It’s almost like a blinding headache is our body’s way of saying, “Hey, we need some help with metabolic functions – send some B12 on the double!” While caffeine is the popular supplement for migraines, Vitamin B12 has been shown to lessen and eliminate migraines altogether!
How to Avoid B12 Deficiency
Sadly, Vitamin B12 isn’t regularly checked by most doctors. You have to specifically ask for it on a blood lipid profile. So if your diet is less than ideal, or you have issues absorbing vitamins and nutrients, it’s a good idea to re-adjust your B12 intake.
There are two primary methods for increasing your Vitamin B12 level:
- Animal protein. Unfortunately, there is no dependable source of B12 in plant foods. A sure-fire way of spiking your B12 intake is with a good steak, or better yet, organ meats. Liver is one of the best B12 sources you’ll find anywhere. Salmon and smaller oily fish (think sardines, sprats and anchovies) also have big-time B12 bonafides.
- A supplement containing methylcobalamin is recommended.
About those supplements: there are multiple methods, and your particular health profile determines how well you can absorb Vitamin B12. Keep in mind, though, that excessive use of stomach acid blockers (such as Tums) is counterproductive when supplementing with Vitamin B12.
For severe B12 deficiency, supplementing can help overcome the harshest side effects and symptoms. The 3 primary administration routes are oral, subcutaneous injections and intramuscular injections. Banner Urgent Care offers intramuscular injections of B12 – check out our Medical Weight Loss Program today!
Vitamin B12 is just a small part of the complete health picture – a vital one, no doubt, but a single building block nonetheless. Similarly, your medical care needs a well-rounded base. Banner Urgent Care, the leading network of urgent care walk-in clinics in Arizona and Nevada, is a critical part of anyone’s well-being. We’re not just about immediate medical attention, either – you’ll receive the best possible healthcare for non-life-threatening emergencies, too. We also offer long-term healthcare, employer services (including worker’s comp and drug test programs), physicals, flu shots and much more.
We’ve become a preferred source of both regular and urgent care for residents in the southwest U.S., and we’d love to help you today! Visit any of our urgent care clinics – we have more than 40 in all – or give us a call at (480) 988-9108. Thanks for reading the Banner Urgent Care blog – if you have any feedback, feel free to drop us a line.