As an always on the go society who wouldn’t want a simple way to get more energy? The recent fad of B12 injections for an energy boost suggests just that. Advocates for this fad claim one simple injection per month could increase energy levels, decrease fatigue, improve mood, and even aid in weight loss. Sounds great, right? Even celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Katy Perry, Victoria Beckham, Justin Bieber and Chelsey Handler swear by the benefits of B12 injections1,2. Health clinics have begun specializing in administering Vitamin B12 shots as energy boosters and weight loss aids 3,4,5,6. Is this injection the cure for low energy levels and fatigue?
To begin, Vitamin B12 injections have successfully been used to treat pernicious anemia and Vitamin B12 deficiency7,8. Anemic and deficient patients who received a course B12 injections have reported feeling more much energized than prior to the treatment9. Based on those reports others figured that B12 injections could be an energy boost for healthy individuals as well. Evidence of this is provided in a Google search for “B12 Injections for increased energy.” Over 200,000 results will come up which vary from articles for and against the use of B12 injections, to clinics offering B12 shots for energy.
The B12 Shot Clinic through The Vaccine Center have locations in Chicago and Las Vegas, in which they offer “fast, easy, affordable and hassle free” B12 injections and no appointment is necessary3. The website claims one monthly injection will boost energy, improve mental clarity, improve mood, treat anemia, and help with weight loss3. Persona Doctors offer “Vitamin B12 Energy Injections” that are five times as potent as injections offered at other clinics, but they don’t state the actual dosage of either5. Their injections are designed to enhance weight loss, boost energy without sugar or caffeine, cleanse your liver, and normalize sleep, appetite, and mood5. The Persona Doctor website states the Vitamin B12 injection may be prescribed by one of their doctors, but it does not state who will actually administer the shot5. PiCMed a company specializing in work place wellness programs also provides Vitamin B12 shots6. They claim B12 shots boost energy because B12 works with the red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body more proficiently6. The company also claims receiving an injection is better than oral supplementation of Vitamin B12, because there will be better retention of Vitamin B126. Not only do clinics provide an avenue to receive B12 injections, but you can buy a 10,000Mcg vial of B12 from Amazon for $6.99 to inject yourself10. However, the syringe is sold separately.
While, Vitamin B12 shots have become readily available to the public, they may not provide the great benefits to healthy individuals that companies and clinics claim. As stated Vitamin B12 is an effective treatment for pernicious anemia7 and can increase energy in those with Vitamin B12 deficiency11. However, no evidence has been provided to support that B12 injections are an effective resource for increased energy in non-deficient or anemic populations7,11,12.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin found in food sources from animal origin. Sources include meat, fish, seafood, poultry, milk, milk products, and eggs. Foods like breakfast cereals are often fortified with B12. Vitamin B12 plays a role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, central nervous system maintenance, and energy production.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be very serious health condition. Those at most risk of deficiency are the elderly, because of decreased hydrochloric acid which disrupts B12 absorption, individuals with pernicious anemia, individuals with gastrointestinal disorders or previous gastrointestinal surgery, and vegetarians and vegans, because natural Vitamin B12 food sources come from animal origin13. Deficiency has been associated with neurological changes such as an increased rate of cognitive decline14, and spinal cord disruption7, depression, fatigue, weakness, and weight loss13. If deficiency goes undetected for too long it can have serious health risks. So it is important to have an adequate B12 intake, especially those in the at risk groups mentioned above.
But, will Vitamin B12 injections give you an energy boost if you are not deficient. Firstly, Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin, therefore excess intake is excreted through the urine15. A double blind study in which non-anemic, or deficient active males were administered 1mg injections of cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12) or placebo injections three times a week for 6 weeks, showed no difference in physical performance between the two groups of males12. Research has also shown that oral supplementation of Vitamin B12 is just as effective as injections in treating Vitamin B12 deficiency16,17. Vitamin B12 does not improve brain function, but it can slow the rate of progression of cognitive decline16. Deputy Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Susan B. Shurin, M.D., made a congressional statement in 2008 that Vitamin B12 administration will not improve energy, concentration, memory, and mood in non-deficient people11. Although rare, there is a possibility of anaphylactic reactions to Vitamin B12 injections18. Finally, there is always an associated chance of infection when receiving injections, especially when not administered by a medical professional.
Furthermore, maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin B12 is vital for health, but there is no evidence to suggest health benefits of surpassing the RDA of 2.4 mcg13. Research does not correlate with energy boosting claims of Vitamin B12 injections made by celebrities, clinics, and other companies. As stated previously, Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin, any excess administered via injection to a non-deficient individual would be excreted through the urine and the individual would not experience suggested benefits. Vitamin B12 injections for otherwise healthy individuals are not suggested because there are no benefits associated with the injections. If you are deficient or at risk of deficiency you should contact your medical provider and nutritionist before taking any supplements, in oral or injection forms. In conclusion, Vitamin B12 injections are only beneficial to those that are suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, more research is needed to support any claims that Vitamin B12 injections boost energy in healthy individuals. So don’t believe the hype!
1. Vitamin B12 injections: do they work? MSN Health and Fitness Website Available at https://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/familyhealth/vitamin-b12-injections-do-they-work/ar-AAmSPT . Published: September 22, 2014. Accessed: November 12, 2015
2. What makes Madonna so “talented”? Maybe it’s the B12! B12Shots.org Website. Available at http://b12shots.org/madonna_timberlake_b-12.html. Updated: 2014. Accessed: November 13, 2015.
3. B12 Shot Clinics. B12 Shots Clinics Website. Available at http://b12shotclinics.com/. Accessed November 13,2015.
4. Vitamins B12 Injections. BaylorScott & White Health Website. Available at http://www.sw.org/HealthLibrary?page=Vitamin%20B12%20Injections. Updated: March 3, 2013. Accessed: November 13, 2015
5. Vitamin B12 Energy Injections. PersonaDoctors Website. Available at https://persona-doctors.com/Vitamin-B12-Energy-Lipotropic-And-Adenosine-Injections. Accessed November 15, 2015.
6. B12 Shot. PiCMed Website. Available at http://www.picmed.com/flu-clinics/b12-shots/. Accessed November 15, 2015.
7. Shipton M, Thachil J. Vitamin B12- A 21st century perspective. Clin Med. 2015; 15(2): 145-150.
8. Carmel R. How I treat cobalamin (Vitamin B12) deficiency. Blood. 2008; 112(6):2214-2221
9. Lukaski HC. Vitamin and mineral status: effects on physical performance. Nutrition. 2004; 20(7-8): 632-44
10. Nutridose B-12 10,000Mcg, Single Vial (15ml).Amazon Website. Available at http://www.amazon.com/Nutridose-B-12-000Mcg-SingleVial/dp/B00HTOT58S/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1447597174&sr=8-2&keywords=b+12+injectable. Accessed: November 15, 2015.
11. Shurin SB. 2008 Congressional Testimony. Vitamin B12—State of the Science. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Website. Available at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/documents/legislativeinformation/other-congressional-testimony/2008-congressional-testimony. Published February 12, 2008. Accessed November13, 2015
12. Tin-May-Than, Ma-Win-May, Khin-Sann-Aung, Mya-Tu M. The effect of vitamin B12 on physical performance capacity. Br J Nutr. 1978 Sep;40(2):269-73.
13. Vitamin B-12. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Website. Available at https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en72. Updated June 24, 2011. Accessed November 13, 2015.
14. R, Birks J, Nexo E, et al. Low vitamin B-12 status and risk of cognitive decline in older results. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 86(5):1384-91.
15. Gropper. SS, Smith JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Sixth Ed. Water -Soluble Vitamins. Cengage Learning. 2013.
16. Health Quality Ontario. Vitamin B12 and cognitive function: an evidence-based analysis. Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2013; 13(23): 1-45
17. Sharabi A, Cohen E, Sulkes J, Garty M. Replacement therapy for Vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003; 56(6): 635-638.
18. Bilwani F, Adil SN, Sheikh U, Humera A, Khurshid M. Anaphylactic reaction after intramuscular injection of cynocobalamin (Vitamin B12): a case report. J Pak Med Assoc. 2005; 55(5):217-9