Vitamin B12 is a crucial part of many of our body’s processes, including the production and maintenance of healthy red blood cells (how we move oxygen from our lungs to the rest of the body), the production of DNA, strengthening and protecting our nervous systems, and metabolizing proteins and fats into glucose, which is how our body gets energy.
While some have known the power of Vitamin B12 injections for a very long time, their use began to work its way into greater view of the public when Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were given Vitamin B12 injections on camera when filming their popular reality television show, The Real Life.
Some people take Vitamin B12 shots for specific illnesses like pernicious anemia or problems with their gut that prevent their bodies from absorbing Vitamin B12 properly. Others take Vitamin B12 shots because they are always on the path to maintaining their wellness, and they know that oral supplements often aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be.
In this article, we will cover the differences between Vitamin B12 shots vs B12 pills taken orally. If you have been a lifelong customer of orally taken supplements, you may be surprised to learn that they often only provide a fraction of the nutritional value that they advertise.
In short let’s answer the question: how many b12 shots equals a pill?
In a shot you get 1000mcg of b12 typically, however, it’s not the same as taking a 1000mcg pill because shots have 100% absorption, while pills can get in the neighborhood of 30% of absorption. So you’re getting much more bang for your buck with a shot.
B12 Shots vs B12 Pills
Some people may not like the idea very much of getting frequent shots in order to maintain their appropriate health and Vitamin B12 levels. Others may not have much of a choice due to health issues, age, or prior surgeries. As we go through some of the differences between Vitamin B12 shots vs pills below, you may be surprised to learn just how different the same vitamin can be when administered in a different way.
Let’s get the most important aspect for some people in deciding whether to take Vitamin B12 shots or pills out of the way up front: the cost.
At first glance, the difference between Vitamin B12 orally administered pills vs shots may be so significant that they don’t want to look any further. But when you begin to drill down into the difference between the effectiveness, absorption, effects, frequency required to take them, and benefits, you may think about the choice very differently.
Right off the bat, the cost for most of the mass-produced and over-the-counter Vitamin B12 oral supplements will run between $10 and $50, depending on the brand and where you are shopping. With the cost of a Vitamin B12 shot running anywhere from $50-$100 depending on your health insurance and where you choose to receive the shot, the price disparity seems pretty wide.
But when you look at the difference between potentially throwing money down a black hole versus investing in something that will show fast, proven, effective, and beneficial effects, the decision is night and day.
Let’s start off with a basic lesson in biology. While we may think that the human body is a perfectly efficient machine that receives exactly as much nutrition as we put into it, the reality is far from it.
One of the biggest inefficiencies for power companies is trying to deliver the energy created across long distances. Just as power is lost as energy races across the power lines when you flip on your light switch or air conditioner, the human body loses nutrients as they are ingested, metabolized, and then distributed to your body.
Vitamin B12 taken orally is more cumbersome than most vitamins because it requires that a unique and specific protein called intrinsic factor in our gut be present for binding, metabolizing, and absorption. We naturally lose this intrinsic factor as we age, and there is a bevy of various medical complications that can reduce how much our gut even has.
On top of that, over 50% of the Vitamin B12 in our body is stored in the liver. If you consume alcohol on a daily basis, your body is using far more B12 than someone who doesn’t. Even if you don’t drink alcohol often, there are various liver diseases and complications that can lead to your body using more, or storing and producing less Vitamin B12 than someone who doesn’t.
And on top of all of that, there are a variety of issues that can lead to differing absorption rates for someone who takes their daily vitamins or supplements orally. Some of those are:
- The time of day that you take them
- Whether you take them with food
- What form you take (swallowed pill or capsule, sublingual, tongue drops, or in a drink)
- Your body’s metabolic rate
- You’ve had gastric bypass surgery
- You have inflammation of your gut
- Various hereditary factors
Vitamin B12 deficiencies in the human body can lead to disastrous effects. Some of the symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency can be:
- A pale yellow tinge to your skin (jaundice)
- A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
- Oral ulcers
- The feeling of pins and needles in your extremities (paresthesia)
- Involuntary changes in your movement
- Disturbed vision
- Significant mood and behavior changes
- A decline in mental abilities such as memory, understanding, and judgment (dementia)
Recent studies have shown that as much as 90% of the population may be deficient in one or more of the crucial daily vitamins & minerals that we need for our bodies to function properly. Because most people don’t understand just how inefficient their vitamins & supplements taken orally may be, they have no idea that their morning vitamins taken with breakfast are not meeting their daily needs.
Some people may merely see that the multivitamin or other supplement that they take daily has B12, and believe that means that they are getting all of it that they need. In reality, multivitamins typically only have around 250mcg of Vitamin B12, while B12-specific shots or pills will have 1,000mcg.
Others may know that they should be getting 1,000mcg of Vitamin B12 daily so they decide to just take that many pills, not understanding that the metabolic and absorption differences between oral pills and shots are vastly different.
Because the Vitamin B12 shots are injected directly into the muscle, they bypass the digestive system and absorption issues that orally ingested Vitamin B12 encounter entirely, meaning that the shot is giving you far more “bang for your buck” and is actually delivering to your body’s systems the same amount that was taken in.
Between your gut, metabolism, and transfer to your bloodstream, much like the power company losing energy along the way, the Vitamin B12 being delivered to your body will be far less than what was taken orally.
Different people’s diets, bodies, metabolisms, and underlying health vary greatly, and so may their requirements for Vitamin B12. If you are taking Vitamin B12 pills daily as part of your routine, you should be commended for your effort but in reality, have no idea how effective it is.
Some people are amazed when they have been taking B-complex multivitamins every day for years, but are told by their doctor that they are deficient in Vitamin B12. Unfortunately, when taking vitamins orally, that’s really the only option: take them every day and hope for the best.
With Vitamin B12 shots, however, the beginning of a regimen when started with a licensed medical facility like IV Lounge is to take a blood test to establish your baseline. Once that baseline is set, you will take Vitamin B12 shots to establish your “loading dose” or adequate levels within your body.
Once that loading dose is complete, the frequency of your shots will be reduced and vary slightly, down to about every 10 days as you establish your “maintenance dose,” which allows your Vitamin B12 levels to stay where needed. After the maintenance period is complete, future Vitamin B12 shots only need to be taken every one to four months.
Which is Better For Me?
The human body is a beautiful machine, but it is far from perfect. Those who wish to keep their body running in optimal shape will often keep up with whatever science tells us is providing the best results at the time, but as technology and our understanding of ourselves advances, so do the best practices.
Daily oral vitamins were considered the best practice for many years, and for quite some time it was all that we had on top of eating a normal balanced diet. But now that the science of health has advanced again and Vitamin B12 shots are safe & available for just about anyone, the answer to this question is patently obvious if you care about your wellness.
The cost is the only reason that someone may hesitate in terms of deciding whether a shot or pill is the better choice. When you factor in that you will only need a Vitamin B12 shot every one to four months once your maintenance dose is set, the calculus changes greatly.
Between the more efficient absorption, bypassing the gut to deliver Vitamin B12 directly to your body, and creating a regimen geared to your body’s Vitamin B12 needs rather than just taking a pill every day and hoping that it’s working, a Vitamin B12 shot seems the clear choice over the pill for anyone who is concerned about staying at their optimal wellness levels.
Our lives are each full of decisions to make, and the metrics and calculus by which we make those decisions are different for everyone. Some of these decisions are small, like what to have for dinner, while others are large and concern the one thing that we can never replace: our lives and health.
If you are someone who cares about your body & health and who wants to keep it in the best shape possible, vitamin shots provide a far more efficient and effective way to ensure your body is getting all of the nutrients that it needs than anything else on the market. If this describes you, IV Lounge has a staff of licensed and certified medical professionals that are ready to help you achieve your optimal health.
Call IV Lounge today to book an appointment and get your health on track with the latest medical advancements in nutrition.