VITAMIN B12 INJECTIONS FAQ'S
WHAT IS A VITAMIN B12 INJECTION?
A Vitamin B12 (otherwise known as cobalamin) injection is an injection given intramuscularly (usually the top of the arm) for the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency.
WHAT IS IT USED FOR?
Vitamin B12 is used to treat B12 deficiency, therapeutic indications include:
Treatment of Addisonian Pernicious Anaemia
Prophylaxis and treatment of other macrocytic anaemias associated with B12 deficiency
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM B12 DEFICIENT?
Many signs and symptoms of a B12 deficiency can also indicate other problems, such as a folate deficiency or something more serious. B12 deficiency can only be diagnosed by your GP, as as well as assessing your clinical signs and symptoms they will also take a blood test to monitor the levels of B12 in your blood. Together, these will help form a diagnosis. Sebastian-Rose will ALWAYS advise you to seek a consultation with your GP if you are at all worried about your symptoms, or if they get any worse. We do NOT diagnose as to whether you are B12 deficient.
People can also have 'normal' levels of B12 in their blood, but be symptomatic - this is known as a functional B12 deficiency. Furthermore, a B12 blood test only measures the 'total' amount of B12 in your blood; not simply the form of B12 that is 'active' and can therefore be 'used' by the body. This means that if a significant amount of B12 in your blood is 'inactive', the fact that you are deficient will NOT show that you are indeed deficient.
AM I AT RISK OF A B12 DEFICIENCY?
You are at risk for B12 deficiency if you:
Are a vegetarian
Are a vegan
Have chronic gastritis
Have had previous surgery on your stomach
Have any chronic bowel conditions, such as Chrons disease or colitis
You take certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI's) - a medicine sometimes used to treat heartburn and indigestion
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH A B12 DEFICIENCY?
You may be at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency if you fall into any of the aforementioned categories. Signs and symptoms include (but are not limited to):
Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
Tiredness / lack of energy
Numbness and / or tingling (paraesthesia)
Noticeable heartbeat (palpitations)
Feeling short of breath
Loss of appetite
Ringing in your ears (tinnitius)
Unintended weight loss
Changes in your vision
A yellow tinge to the skin
Changes in the way you feel, behave, and think ('brain fog')
A decline in mental function, such as changes to your memory, judgement and understanding (dementia)
Bear in mind that many of these signs and symptoms can also be demonstrative of a folate deficiency, in which case a B12 injection is unlikely to help.
WHICH VITAMIN B12 INJECTION DO YOU USE?
We use HYDR0XOCOBALAMIN (same as the NHS) as this lasts longer than the synthetic alternative in the body (CYAN0COBALAMIN)
HOW LONG DO B12 INJECTIONS LAST?
Anywhere from 1-3 months.
IS IT PAINFUL?
You may feel a slight sting as the injection is inserted, but it is very quick and takes less than two seconds.
HOW QUICKLY WILL I FEEL BETTER?
If you are B12 deficient, you can expect to feel an improvement in your signs and symptoms within a matter of days.
ARE VITAMIN B12 INJECTIONS SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE?
You cannot have a vitamin B12 injection if:
You are sensitive to any of the excipients, which are - acetic acid, sodium chloride, sodium hydroxide, and water for injections.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS?
Side effects to Vitamin B12 are SO rare that they cannot be estimated from current data (in other words, less than 1 in 10'000). These extremely rare side effects include:
Reactive thrombocytosis during the first week of use in megaloblastic anaemia
Hypersensitivity reactions including: rash, itching, exanthema, antibodies to HYDR0XOCOBALAMIN-transcobalamin II
Headache, paraesthesia, tremor
Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias secondary to hypokalaemia)
Fever, chills, hot flushes, dizziness, malaise, pain and / or swelling at the injection site
Abnormal colouration of the urine (chromaturia)
Remember, vitamin B12 injections are very safe, it is not possible to take too much vitamin B12, and these side-effects are so rare that they are unable to gather actual statistics other than the risk is less than 1 in 10'000.
B12 INJECTIONS AT A GLANCE
COURSE / ONGOING
DOCTOR OR NURSE PRESCRIBER