Ahmad Chehade, PharmD. Candidate
A little background
We’re now living in an age where you can find information on almost anything through the internet. The downside to this is that practically anyone can make unfounded health claims to sell different products, and many people are prone to believe it.
To give readers a little insight on what vitamin B12 is, it’s a water-soluble B vitamin involved in the functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as the production of energy and new cells in the body.1 Vitamin B12 supplements are often used to treat pernicious anemia, a form of blood disorder caused by a B12 deficiency, where the body cannot produce enough blood cells to properly circulate oxygen. Vitamin B12 is abundant in meat, and therefore deficiencies usually only occur in people such as vegetarians. Of note, one of the main symptoms of anemia is fatigue.1
Second, B vitamins, in general, are also important for creating energy from the food in our diet. That is, they play a significant role in our metabolism. Because of these two roles of Vitamin B12, many health “practitioners” market B12 as a valuable supplement for weight loss and boosting energy.
Let’s break it down
So yes, as we’ve mentioned, vitamin B12 is essential for keeping a healthy blood cell count and metabolizing food into energy.1,2 However, it’s important to note that because B12 is also a water-soluble vitamin, the body can only store so much, after which, any extra B12 we consume is simply urinated out of the body. Therefore, while you may feel low on energy if you lack enough B12, any extra amounts beyond what you need gives no added benefit. Therefore, when health-loss experts market massive injection doses of B12 for weight loss and energy, the result is that your body only uses what it really needs, and gets rid of the rest.1,2
There is certainly nothing wrong with taking B12 as part of a regular daily multivitamin, but if you’re investing in unnecessary mega-dose injections, drinks, and supplements, you may be wasting your money.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone
If you’ve ever been a victim of falsely marketed B12, don’t worry too much, as B12 is considered fairly safe and harmless. However, if you are concerned, or curious if you really are lacking in vitamin B12, do see your practitioner and have some blood work done to make sure everything checks out.2
It’s unfortunate that there are practitioners out there that deliver non-evidence based services to make a quick buck. But hopefully, we can continue to crack down on these myths and give you some better alternatives.
As always, consult a healthcare practitioner if you want to learn more about ways to improve your lifestyle. And of course, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, or at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.