Why B12 Shots at Home Can Make Your Treatment Easier!
Published: Sep 10, 2020

Are you living with symptoms like low energy, fatigue, or brain fog? These are all common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. The National Institutes of Health reports that an estimated 6% of all adults in the US have a B12 deficiency. The rate increases to around 20% in older age groups. Fortunately, getting extra B12 effectively addresses the symptoms of B12 deficiency and gives you back your quality of life.

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There are several forms of B12 supplements. Some people are able to raise their B12 levels by taking oral B12 supplements. However, others need injections of B12 to achieve normal B12 levels. Some people choose to go to a clinic to get their injections, while others prefer to do  B12 shots in the convenience of their own homes.

How do you know what’s right for you? Should you choose oral supplements, B12 injections in a clinic, or B12 shots at home? To understand why some people do well with oral supplements while others need injections, let’s consider the process of B12 absorption in the body.

How is B12 absorbed into the body?

Vitamin B12 is naturally found bound to certain animal proteins in our diets, such as meat, eggs, and dairy. This is why so many people who follow a plant-based diet become deficient in vitamin B12; if you eat few or no animal foods, you may not get enough B12 through your diet.

When bound to the food we eat, vitamin B12 is released from protein by hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called gastric protease. When vitamin B12 is added to food or taken as a supplement, it is already in a free form and does not need to be released. Once vitamin B12 is free, it combines with intrinsic factor in the stomach.

Intrinsic factor is a glycoprotein secreted by specialized cells lining the stomach called parietal cells. The combined intrinsic factor vitamin B12 is absorbed into the body in the ileum, which is the most distal part of the small intestine. Vitamin B12 then binds to transcobalamin, and the complex moves through the bloodstream. The complex is absorbed into cells. Approximately two years’ worth of vitamin B12 is stored in the liver.

Oral B12 supplementation

Certain groups of people may be able to raise their levels of B12 effectively through oral supplementation. These include:

  • Vegetarians and vegans who are not getting enough B12 through their diet
  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding and who have an increased need for B12 to support the baby

In these groups, B12 deficiency is a result of inadequate intake. Taking extra B12 through supplements will, therefore, generally be effective.

However, in other groups of people, low B12 levels are caused by a problem with B12 absorption. These people may be eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin B12, but their bodies cannot absorb it very well, so they become deficient. In this case, it is sometimes possible to treat the problem using oral B12, but the dose required will be very high because only a tiny percentage of B12 is being absorbed into the body. Sometimes, absorption is so impaired that the levels cannot be effectively raised even by very high doses of oral B12.

B12 Injections

For people who have trouble with B12 absorption, injections may be the most effective way of raising the level of B12 in the body into the normal range. This is because the injection bypasses the entire process of absorption in the digestive system and delivers the medication into the body directly.

Those who fall into this category include:

  • People who have low levels of stomach acid, including those who are taking acid-reducing medications (for example, for acid reflux)
  • People with low levels of intrinsic factor due to conditions like pernicious anemia
  • Older people, because the body’s production of intrinsic factor gradually declines over time, particularly after age 50
  • People with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or other conditions that impair the ability of the intestines to absorb vitamins and minerals
  • Those who have had weight loss surgery; this can cause a low level of intrinsic factor due to stomach tissue removal, and may also reduce the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients

Some people prefer B12 injections rather than oral B12 supplements. Even in people for whom oral supplementation would likely be effective, injections are also an option.

Some people prefer injections because they’re generally needed less frequently. Although there may be a short period of daily injections at the start of the therapy, the frequency of B12 shots typically declines after that, and many people only need the injections once a month. By contrast, oral B12 usually needs to be taken every day. Some people prefer to use an injection less frequently rather than trying to remember to take a pill every day.

In general, both oral vitamin B12 and B12 shots are considered to be very safe, with a low risk of serious complications.

What’s the difference between B12 shots in a clinic and B12 shots at home?

In terms of the contents of the injection itself, there’s really no difference between a B12 injection you get in a clinic and a B12 injection at home. They’re the same medical-grade prescription B12.

The only difference is the person administering the injection. If you get your injections in a clinic, a nurse or other healthcare provider will give you the shot. This requires you to make regular appointments for the injections and travel to those appointments. This can be a hassle for many people, especially because many people need to receive B12 injections regularly over the long term to maintain normal levels.

Another option is to perform B12 injections at home. This allows you to perform your treatment yourself whenever it’s convenient for you. Almost anyone can perform their own injections, but if you prefer not to do it yourself for any reason, you can ask a family member or friend to do the injections for you.

There are two different ways that B12 shots at home can be performed:

  • Intramuscular. This involves injecting the vitamin directly into a muscle. The needle is passed straight down through the skin into the muscle tissue. Most people use the large muscle on the front of the thigh because it’s easy to access on your own. For those having a loved one do their injections, the buttock or upper arm are also options.
  • Subcutaneous. In this method, the vitamin is injected just under the skin. Some people find this method to be easier and less painful than an intramuscular injection. To perform a subcutaneous injection, you simply take a pinch of skin (usually on the abdomen or the outside of the thigh) and push the needle through one side into the space below.

Either method is effective, so you can generally decide for yourself which way you’d prefer. You’ll also get detailed instructions along with your vitamin B12 syringes, and your doctor will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Many of our clients have commented that they were surprised at how easy the process was.

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Your doctor will help you decide whether to use oral or injectable B12.

It’s important to stress that you won’t have to decide between oral and injectable B12 entirely on your own. This is a decision that you and your doctor will make together. In fact, injections of vitamin B12 are only available by prescription. This is to ensure that your symptoms are professionally evaluated. Your doctor will also consider possible alternative causes of your symptoms to ensure that B12 is the right treatment for you.

Injections of B12 are only available by prescription. At Invigor Medical, all new clients have an appointment via telemedicine with a qualified medical professional. Your doctor will discuss your medical history and your current symptoms with you and will then let you know what they believe the best option would be in your case. If your doctor believes that oral supplements or injections could both be good options for you, you’ll decide which one you prefer.

If you and your doctor decide that B12 shots at home are the best option for you, then we’ll mail your prescription straight to your door, allowing you to perform your treatment in your home at your convenience.

Sources

Laboratory investigation of Vitamin B12 deficiency. https://academic.oup.com/labmed/article-pdf/37/3/166/24959906/labmed37-0166.pdf

The prevalence of cobalamin deficiency among vegetarians assessed by serum vitamin B12: a review of literature. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24667752/

Vitamin B12: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

Pernicious Anemia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/pernicious-anemia

Toxicity induced by multiple high doses of vitamin B12 during pernicious anemia treatment: a case report. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31018715/

Cyanocobalamin (Rx, OTC). Medscape. https://reference.medscape.com/drug/vitamin-b12-nascobal-cyanocobalamin-344418

Vitamin B12 Deficiency. American Academy of Family Practice. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0301/afp20030301p979.pdf

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Written by Riazzudin

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