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GoodRx HealthCan B12 Shots Help with Weight Loss?

Evaluating the Role of Vitamin B12 Shots in Weight Loss and Health Management: Clinical Implications and Potential Benefits for Deficiency Management

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient required for numerous bodily functions, including red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis. Although supplementation is crucial for individuals with a deficiency, the widespread belief that vitamin B12 shots can aid in weight loss lacks scientific backing. This article examines the benefits and limitations of vitamin B12 supplementation, particularly its role in addressing deficiencies, and explores practical recommendations for clinical practice.

Key Points:

  • Essential Function: Vitamin B12 is crucial for the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and overall cellular function. The body cannot synthesize vitamin B12, necessitating dietary intake or supplementation.
  • Sources: Vitamin B12 can be obtained from dietary sources (animal products) or supplements, including pills, sublingual tablets, nasal sprays, and injections.
  • Risk Groups: Individuals at higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include:
    • Those following a vegan or vegetarian diet
    • Patients with pernicious anemia
    • Individuals with Crohn’s disease, atrophic gastritis, or celiac disease
    • Those with a BMI over 30
    • Patients who have undergone intestinal or gastric bypass surgery
    • Individuals taking heartburn or GERD medications
    • Those over the age of 50
    • Pregnant women
  • Benefits of B12 Shots: For individuals with a confirmed deficiency, B12 shots can:
    • Protect nerve, brain, and spinal cord function
    • Support red blood cell production
    • Facilitate DNA synthesis and cellular health
    • Improve energy levels by enabling efficient energy production, reducing fatigue
  • Administration: B12 shots are typically administered in a healthcare setting and involve high but safe doses of vitamin B12. They are often given weekly until levels normalize, then monthly for maintenance.
  • Insurance Coverage: Most insurance plans do not cover B12 shots for individuals with normal B12 levels.
  • Weight Management: There is no conclusive evidence that vitamin B12 shots promote weight loss. Some studies suggest that individuals with higher BMIs may have low B12 levels, but supplementation’s direct impact on weight loss is unproven.
  • General Recommendations: For those without a deficiency, oral or sublingual B12 supplements may be a more practical option. Ensuring adequate hydration, sleep, stress management, and avoiding liquid calories are recommended strategies for weight management.

Approximately 24% of men and 29% of women reported using a dietary supplement containing vitamin B12 in NHANES 2017–March 2020. The proportion in children and adolescents ranged from 28% of those age 2 to 5 years to 9% of those age 12 to 19.

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