Is The Vitamin B12 Shot Safe?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is crucial in human body for various functions. The human body does not produce it, so it has to be absorbed from foods and supplements. Generally, a healthy diet rich in meat, fish and dairy products provide a natural source of vitamin B12 required for the body, but it may be deficient in vegetarians and vegans. People who are deficient in this vitamin take its supplement in various forms including injections, orally, sublingually and nasal preparations. The injection form is administered intramuscularly and subcutaneously and though its popularity is decreasing with the advent of sublingual and nasal preparations, it is usually considered safe with no side effects to mild side effects.
Side Effects of Vitamin B12 Shots
Generally, the injections of vitamin B12 are considered safe when they are administered in a proper manner. However, every drug carries some potential side effects and the same is true for cyanocobalamin also. The most common side effects include sensation of warmth, redness and pain at the injection site, mild diarrhea, nausea, headaches, pain in joints and a feeling of swelling in the whole body. Although, rare, but it can also cause adverse effects on many organs including heart, lungs, muscles, skin and nerves too. The musculoskeletal side effects include muscle pain, muscle weakness, cramps and swelling in extremities including hands, arms, ankles, feet and/or lower legs. The cardiovascular and respiratory side effects include chest pain, tachycardia (increased heart rate), heart palpitations, low blood pressure, chest tightness, cough with or without production of pink frothy sputum, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Dermatological side effects include rash on the skin, itching, hives, skin redness, blisters, pale skin, peeling and swelling with or without fever. Swelling might be present in and around the eyelids, eyes, lips, tongue and/or throat. The neurologic side effects include confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, slurred speech, balancing issue, loss of consciousness, muscular paralysis, fatigue, numbness, tingling and/or burning. Other metabolic side effects could be hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the body), extreme thirst, rapid weight gain, frequent urination and/or unexplained bleeding or bruising. It might also present with vision problems, ringing in ears, dilated neck veins, eye pain, difficulty swallowing and/or bleeding from gums or nose.
Indications of Vitamin B12 Injections
The most common reason for vitamin B12 injection is deficiency of vitamin B12 in the body such as in strict vegetarian or vegan diet, as animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also be found in people with poor nutrition, pernicious anemia, infection, cancer, surgery, alcohol, medications (PPIs or other acid-suppressing drugs), exposure to nitrous oxide (during surgery or recreational use), stomach/intestinal problems such as intestinal dysbiosis, leaky gut or gut inflammation, atrophic gastritis or hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid) and/or nerve damage. It might also be given to treat conditions such as fatigue.
Contraindications of Vitamin B12 Injections
Vitamin B12 injection is contraindicated in pregnant and lactating women, liver disease, kidney disease, infection, iron deficiency, folic acid deficiency, Leber’s disease, hypokalemia, polycythemia vera, gout, folic acid deficiency, the patient undergoing treatment that has a direct effect on bone marrow, an allergy to medication, vitamin, preservative or cobalt. Vitamin B12 injection has a tendency to worsen these conditions. Vitamin B12 injection should be administered only under the recommendation and guidance of a medical professional and they should be aware of complete medical history of the patient. An individual should inform their doctor about the medicines they are taking as cyanocobalamin also interacts with certain prescription and OTC medications such as amoxicillin, erythromycin, methotrexate and pyrimethamine.
Prevention of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be prevented by taking foods rich in vitamin B12 such as fish, meat, poultry and dairy products. As vitamin B12 is found only in animal sources, strict vegetarians and vegans should prevent it by taking diet and foods fortified with vitamin B12 such as vecon veg stock, textured veg protein, soya milk, veg and sunflower margarines and breakfast cereals.
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