What are the Options in Vitamin B12 Supplements?
Recent studies suggest that up to 40% of the population suffers from some degree of vitamin B12 deficiency. Fortunately, there are a variety of options available in vitamin B12 supplements. B12 supplements are available in vitamin B12 injections (B12 shots), oral pills, sublingual B12 pills, strips or liquids and intranasal spray. Each of these methods have proven efficacy for the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency when taken in proper dosages. However, some may be more effective than others for certain medical conditions such as pernicious anemia.
B12 Injections -Vitamin B12 Supplements
Vitamin B12 shots are the most commonly used form of vitamin B12 supplements for clinical B12 deficiency. The advantage of vitamin B12 injections is that they are administered intramuscularly (in the muscle) or subcutaneously (under the skin) and give quick and direct treatment to the bloodstream. Therefore, B12 injections bypass the need for absorption in the digestive system, which is the most common cause of B12 deficiency. B12 shots have been the preferred method of treatment for decades because of this efficient, direct pathway and its proven effectiveness. Though B12 injections are popular among doctors and clinicians when more severe B12 deficiency symptoms occur, other supplement methods can be equally effective, more convenient and painless. Even physicians who recommend B12 injections for initial treatment of B12 deficiency often recommend oral supplements for maintenance dosages.
Oral Pill Vitamin B12 Supplements
B12 oral pills are often thought to be less effective because of their reliance on the digestive system to absorb the vitamins. The assumption is that if the cause of B12 deficiency is related to absorption issues in the digestive system then an oral B12 pill cannot be absorbed. However, the effectiveness of B12 oral pills for treatment of all types of B12 deficiency has been documented and proven since the 1970’s. The key to effective B12 deficiency treatment with the oral pill is in dosage. When taken in large dosages (amounts above 500mg), B12 is absorbed “en masse” through alternate pathways. This is why most B12 pills are found in dosages of 500-2000mg. Since vitamin B12 is water-soluble and has virtually no toxicity, these large dosages present very little risk.
Sublingual Vitamin B12 Supplements
Sublingual B12 supplements are available in pill, liquid and strip forms and get their name because of the method in which they are administered. Unlike an oral pill, sublingual pills are not swallowed but dissolved under the tongue. Because of this absorption method, sublingual B12 manufacturers claim superior absorption over the oral pill. However, studies comparing oral versus sublingual methods consistently show equal efficacy. For persons who have trouble swallowing pills, sublingual vitamin B12 supplements are a sensible and effective option.
Intranasal Vitamin B12 Supplements
Intranasal B12 is available as spray or gel and like sublingual B12 is marketed with presumptions that absorption through the nasal passage is a more direct and effective pathway than that of an oral B12 pill. However, like sublingual B12, intranasal methods show no significant difference in absorption than the B12 oral pill.
All of the above referenced Vitamin B12 supplements can be effective for the treatment of B12 deficiency and the supplement that is best for you should be based on personal preference and your health care providers recommendations. If you believe that you may have B12 deficiency, see your physician. B12 deficiency may be cause by serious medical conditions and can cause permanent and irreversible nerve damage if left untreated. The good news is B12 deficiency can be treated effectively with any of these Vitamin B12 supplements.