Health & Wellbeing’s intrepid columnist discusses whether vitamin injections are worth it
Helen SkeltonRead More
When your lean-as-a-race-horse friend tells you she can’t sit down because her butt is so sore, you expect it’s down to deadlifts – but that’s not always the case. My friend Steph’s discomfort was due to the fact that she’d had a B12 injection in her backside, and it was agony.
Why go through the pain? My friend is among a growing army of folk who swear by the health benefits of upping their dose of vitamin B12. Also known as cobalamin, the vitamin is an essential thing that your body needs but can’t produce. It’s found naturally in animal products and is added to certain foods, plus it’s available as an oral supplement or as an injection. Steph is a vegetarian and so doesn’t eat beef or pork – two great sources of B12. She’s also not keen on a lot of dairy products, missing out on milk, cheese and eggs – also great sources of the vitamin. That’s why she’s started having the B12 injections once every four weeks. It should be possible to get enough B12 from food (100g cheese provides more than the daily recommended intake) but the vitamin is largely found in animal products, which is why, as more of us opt for a vegan diet, there’s an increasing number of people who are B12 deficient. It’s not just down to diet, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing the vitamin as we age, too.
For Steph, it was the promise of more energy and a greater feeling of wellness that made her want to try the injections. As a vegetarian who trains hard, she feels it’s important to supplement her diet. Rachel Mccusker, an advanced nurse practitioner and regular administer of B12 injections, says that injectable supplementation ensures that all of the goodness goes straight into the bloodstream. “You can take supplements but the results won’t be as quick or obvious,” she claims. Rachel and Steph swear they both feel sharper and more mentally aware within hours of the treatment. “It’s like you’ve had 12 hours of sleep,” beams Rachel.
Vitamin B12 has many roles in the body. It helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, and is needed for red blood cell formation. It’s a treatment that has attracted cynics, who say that you don’t need to inject a man-made vitamin if your diet is varied, but scientists have linked big potential health claims to the stuff. Among its accolades is the possibility that B12 could help prevent heart disease, improve sleep, boost skin and reduce depression.
Sound too good to be true? It’s worth getting a GP or specialist opinion, as the only way you’ll benefit is if you’re deficient in the first place. Having regular B12 injections is not something to be taken lightly, but neither are the consequences of a B12 deficiency. It’s definitely worth thinking about but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a lot easier to make sure you have a varied diet in the first place.
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