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B12 shots: Do they work for weight loss?

By Bill Gephardt | Posted - Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 8:40am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Vitamin B12 injections are often touted as a near miracle cure, a solution for people looking to lose weight and boost energy. But do they work?

Wellness clinics in Utah and across the country offer shots that pack as much as 500 times more vitamin B12 than the recommended daily dosage. One clinic in Texas says a B12 injection ensures your body receives all necessary nutrients to keep you at your energetic best.

A Los Angeles clinic proclaims vitamin B12 is vital for your metabolism and is great for loss of weight.

A Salt Lake-area beauty clinic boasts the shots also improve your immune system. Plus it says injections are better than B12 sprays or pills because you'll feel the positive effects sooner.

One clinic even offered B12 injections on Groupon for $29 - a savings of $50. Or, for the same amount, you can buy the B12 and have it shipped to your home. If you don't know how to inject it, plenty of online videos explain it.

What is Vitamin B12?
  • A water-soluble B complex vitamin
  • Found naturally in a variety of foods, including meat, fish and dairy products
  • Is added to some foods
  • Is available as a dietary supplement
  • Injections are commonly prescribed to help prevent or treat pernicious anemia and B-12 deficiency
Source: Mayo Clinic

But do vitamin B12 injections work for weight loss?

"I can't say it's the miracle drug," said Sara Fausett, a graduate student at the University of Utah's nutrition program, who is about a month away from becoming a registered dietician.

People who push B12 shots say the injections speed up metabolism and help shed unwanted pounds.

The Cosmetic Rejuvenation Medical Center's website points out, "Metabolism functions include: nutrition, digestion, absorption, elimination, respiration, circulation, and temperature regulation. These are many functions necessary to losing weight. These are also benefits that can be improved by taking B12."

But Faucett said, "(For) a lot of people who don't quite understand the hard core bio chemistry, it makes sense. You're low on the things you need to make metabolism run, you'll run slower. But that's not the case with B12."

The Mayo Clinic supports what she said. Doctors there said "there's no solid evidence that vitamin B12 injections aid weight loss."

What about the claim the injections boost energy? Faucett said B12 helps activate a few enzymes needed for metabolism. However she said B12 alone won't get you an energy boost.

"B12 cannot give you energy," she said. "Energy comes only from calories and that's it."


B12 cannot give you energy. Energy comes only from calories and that's it.

–Sara Fausett


Why do these injections even exist? Vitamin B12 deficiency is a real thing. It can lead to anemia, in which blood doesn't carry enough oxygen to the rest of the body. Or it can cause a neurological disorder.

However, the National Institutes of Health said the number of people with this deficiency is small - between 2 and 15 percent of the population. So that leaves a more basic reason for the surge in the popularity of B12 shots: Money.

Some people pay $80 to $90 per shot.

Vitamin B-12 is not toxic, so you won't hurt yourself by getting too much of it. But doctors caution people who inject themselves about the possibility of infection at the injection site. They recommend only qualified staff at a clinic administer the shot.

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