Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally found in animal products, including meat, fish, and dairy products, and it is also available as a dietary supplement, an injectable, and in fortified foods.1 It is important to consume enough vitamin B12 in your diet, as a deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, cognitive and neurologic dysfunction, and anemia.2
Vitamin B12 plays several important roles in the body, including:3
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to several health problems, including anemia, nerve damage, and neurologic symptoms such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively rare, but it is more common in people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as it is found almost exclusively in animal-derived foods. It is also more common in older adults, as the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food decreases with age. People who regularly take metformin, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 blockers, or have gastrointestinal disease are also at increased risk.3
If you are concerned that you may be deficient in vitamin B12, speak with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment. If you are receiving vitamin B12 injections, it is important to store them correctly so they retain their full potency.
Most vitamin B12 supplements do not need to be refrigerated. However, it is generally recommended to store them in a cool, dry place, away from heat, moisture, and light. This is because heat, moisture, and light can all contribute to the degradation of the vitamin and reduce its effectiveness.4
If vitamin B12 is lyophilized, such as in some forms of methylcobalamin, the medication should be refrigerated after mixing.
Some vitamin B12 supplements, such as liquid drops or sublingual tablets (tablets that dissolve under the tongue), may also need to be refrigerated to maintain their stability and effectiveness. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions, as different vitamin forms may have different storage requirements.
B12 shots are typically good for 24 hours once they are drawn up and prepared for injection, as light exposure can degrade the potency of the medication. After 24 hours, they should be discarded, and a new injection should be prepared. It is important to follow proper handling and storage guidelines for B12 shots to ensure that they are safe and effective.
If you have developed a vitamin B12 deficiency, restoring vitamin B12 to healthy levels can improve your energy level and resolve symptoms typically associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Some potential benefits of vitamin B12 injections may include the following:
Vitamin B12 injections are usually recommended for people with a vitamin B12 deficiency that cannot be corrected through diet and oral supplements. They may also be used to treat certain medical conditions that interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 from the diet.
Vitamin B12 is generally well-tolerated and safe when taken at recommended doses. Most people do not experience any side effects when taking vitamin B12 supplements or consuming foods that are rich in vitamin B12.11
However, some people may experience vitamin B12 side effects when taking high doses of supplements. These may include:
In rare cases, some people may experience an allergic reaction to vitamin B12, which can cause symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking vitamin B12 supplements and seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms.
It’s important to note that vitamin B12 supplements can interact with certain medications and medical conditions, so it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.
If you are self-administering B12 shots at home, be sure to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. If you have any questions about the proper handling or storage of B12 shots, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional.
Vitamin B12 injections are usually given in the muscle or under the skin. The specific instructions for administering a B12 injection will depend on the product used and the reason for the injection. It is important to follow the injection instructions provided by a healthcare provider or pharmacist, as well as any additional instructions that may be provided by the manufacturer of the specific B12 product being used.
Here are some general steps for administering a B12 injection:
Following proper infection control practices when administering a B12 injection is important, including washing your hands and using a clean, sterile needle and syringe. If you have any questions about the proper technique for administering a B12 injection, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional.
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While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.
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