When would I need to get vitamin B12 shots?
There are valid reasons for a person to get vitamin B12 shots. In this video, preventive medicine specialist David Katz discusses the specifics.
It can present as fatigue, because B12 deficiency can cause anemia. But one of the most important presentations in older people
is forgetfulness. [MUSIC PLAYING]
Vitamin B12 is interesting, because unlike most other nutrients which our body tends to absorb pretty readily--
unless there's a medical problem, unless you've had surgery affecting your gastrointestinal tract, unless you have a condition that causes
malabsorption-- B12 requires a specific protein manufactured in the stomach called intrinsic factor in order for it
to be absorbed. As we age, it's very common to have some atrophy of the stomach lining. And one of the early casualties of that
is the production of intrinsic factor. So B12 deficiency can be rather common in an aging population.
And I suspect as our population continues to age and life expectancy gets longer, we'll see even more of it.
Now it can cause numbness, tingling. It can present as fatigue, because B12 deficiency
can cause anemia. But one of the most important presentations in older people is forgetfulness.
You're starting to think like you're not quite firing on all cylinders. You can't remember where you put your keys. And you're starting to think, oh, my goodness.
I think I've got Alzheimer's. Now you may notice this, or it may be family members who notice that, you know,
someone's not thinking quite as clearly as they usually do, and something's not right. And so I've had patients come to me of their own accord.
I've also had patients brought to me by family members concerned that a mother or father suddenly seems a bit confused or forgetful.
That's a common presentation. One of the things a doctor should routinely do in that situation is check B12, because that's a completely reversible form
of forgetfulness or dementia. There's another situation where it's not
so much a problem of absorbing B12, but actually metabolizing it. And the form of B12 that we get orally, cyanocobalamin--
if you want the whole name-- actually needs to be metabolized, it needs to be methylated. Some people have an enzyme deficiency
where they can't do that step, and so they don't produce the active form. And then it becomes important to administer the active form
directly. So that would be another case for giving it by injection. But again, both times, the presenting symptoms
are about the same. [HEARTBEAT]
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