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B12 Injections: Is It Worth Taking A Shot?
A big cup of coffee or a can of red bull is how some of us fight off fatigue. But, now more people are opting for a mega dose of vitamin B12. To find out if it's a magic antidote, consumer reporter Bettie Cross put it the test.
Slower reflexes, less endurance, not as much strength are all typical of being 40 something.
"The clock may move but I want to still feel mid 20s even though I'm mid 40s," said Paige Harper Lang.
To rewind 20 years, Lang went to the Austin Wellness Clinic on South Lamar.
"I wanted an overall wellness reboot," said Lang.
Her plan includes a weekly injection of vitamin B12. The shot of "red" is her fatigue fighter.
"I feel like it helps me run a little faster, play a little longer and get a little more out of my workout," said the North Austin woman.
If that's the case, I thought I'd give it a shot. The injection doesn't hurt, but it also may not help.
"There are people who take really good care of themselves and probably won't feel much of anything," said Dr. Vincent Bellonzi with the Austin Wellness Clinic. "You'll just have expensive urine."
In fact, most people get all the B12 they need from red meat, poultry and fish. Milk and eggs have lesser amounts. But, if you have a true B12 deficiency, Dr. Lianne Marks with Scott & White Clinic says the $20 shots can be life changing.
"If you're deficient and you take B12 you're going to feel a lot better in basically every aspect of your body," said Dr. Marks.
Those most likely to not get enough B12 are vegans, vegetarians and people over the age of 50. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs can also keep your body from absorbing enough of the vitamin.
"Aspirin, people who take aspirin tend to have lower B12 and we don't know why," said Dr. Marks.
The only way to know if you're B12 deficient is to get a blood or urine test.
It's likely my levels are within the normal range because even after two injections I've yet to get a B12 buzz.
Symptoms of a milder B12 deficiency include weakness, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, sore tongue, easy bruising, and stomach upset.
If the deficiency is not corrected the symptoms can progress to muscle weakness, fatigue, shakiness, tingling or numbness in fingers and toes, low blood pressure, poor memory and depression.
Vitamin B12 deficiency typically it occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat.
Ask your doctor to check your B12 levels if you:
- Are a vegan or vegetarian (babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also be deficient in vitamin B12)
- Over the age of 50
- Have had weight loss surgery in which part of the stomach or small intestine was removed
- Consumer large quantities of alcohol
- Have inflammatory bowel disease
- Have Crohn's or Celiac disease, pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis or an autoimmune disorder