Let’s Talk About Vitamin B-12

There are many weight loss programs that provide Vitamin B-12 injections as part of their protocols.  What is Vitamin B-12 and what is the importance of this vitamin?

Vitamin B-12 is a water soluble vitamin also known as “cobalamin”.  It is one of eight “B” vitamins.  Food sources that contain Vitamin B-12 include: fish, meat, eggs, dairy products and poultry.  Vegetarians have a more difficult time obtaining Vitamin B-12 through the foods they eat and often they require fortified cereals and/or Vitamin B-12 containing vitamins to ensure they have enough Vitamin B-12.

The importance of Vitamin B-12: 

  • Vitamin B-12 is essential for red blood cell formation and lack of Vitamin B-12 may lead to anemia
  • Supports bone health
  • May prevent birth defects
  • May improve memory/cognition
  • May improve heart health
  • May support health skin, hair and nails
  • May improve mood
  • May improve energy

If someone is ingesting meat, eggs, poultry and/or dairy products how can that person have Vitamin B-12 deficiency?  The absorption of Vitamin B-12 requires the stomach production of “intrinsic factor” to bind to the Vitamin B-12 in our diet.  Then, an intact distal small intestine (ileum) is required for the proper absorption of Vitamin B-12 into the bloodstream.  If for some reason the stomach is not producing the correct amount of intrinsic factor (“pernicious anemia”) and/or there has been issues with the ileum (such as inflammatory bowel disease or surgical removal) Vitamin B-12 absorption will not occur leading to deficiency.

The diagnosis of Vitamin B-12 is quite easy: A simple CBC (complete blood count) will show larger than normal red blood cells (“macrocytosis”) and then a Vitamin B-12 blood level will show a less than normal number.

For those people that are Vitamin B-12 deficient, sublingual (under the tongue) or injections will bypass the need for absorption from the GI tract.

Specifically focusing on weight control:  There are really no good studies that show that injecting Vitamin B-12 in a person with normal B-12 levels will help with weight loss.  It does help the doctor’s income however!

Okay, I am at a loss to find a song about Vitamin B-12 so here is a stretch:  Vitamin B-12 is found in meat, including meatloaf.  So here is a song from “Meatloaf”.  As I am hoping that you enjoy at least most of the blogs I write, here is an appropriate tune:  “2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”.

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