Every once in a while you
hear about a weight-loss trend that makes you wonder if you’re
seriously missing out. B-12 shots for weight loss is one of them.
Celebrities like Rita Ora and Justin
Timberlake have reportedly tried them, and Katy Perry even tweeted a
few years ago about getting a B-12 shot in her butt.
Of course, the idea grew from there, and somewhere along the line,
B-12 shots started getting linked with weight loss. But can B-12 shots actually
help you drop kilos, or is it all just BS?
What are B-12 shots anyway?
Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that’s naturally present
in some foods like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products,
according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It
keeps your nerves and blood cells healthy, helps make your body’s DNA, and can
protect against anaemia, which can make you feel tired and weak.
According to the NIH, the daily recommended allowance for vitamin
B-12 is 2.4mcg (micrograms) for both men and women (it goes up to 2.6mcg for
pregnant women, and 2.8mcg for those who are nursing). JSYK: A double
cheeseburger has 2.1mcg of vitamin B-12, per the NIH.
A B-12 shot is basically just a large dose of B-12 – one shot
typically contains 1 000 micrograms of the stuff, says Dr Susan Besser, a
primary care physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. They’re usually
given by a primary-care doctor or nurse, although you can be trained to do it
yourself, similar to how people can learn to give themselves insulin, Besser
Do B-12 shots have any health or weight-loss benefits?
People who are all about these shots claim that they can give you more energy,
boost your metabolism, and help you lose weight in the process – but uh, none of
that is true for the average person.
“Vitamin B-12 is administered for those who have an actual
deficiency or persons who have had cyanide poisoning (as an antidote),” says
Dr Fatima Cody Stanford, obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General
If you have anaemia (a condition where your blood doesn’t have
enough healthy red blood cells), B-12 injections could help fix the issue,
Stanford says. “The people most likely to be at risk for vitamin B-12
deficiency are those who are vegan – vitamin B-12 is generally only obtained from
animal sources – or those who have undergone a metabolic procedure such as
weight-loss surgery,” she says. Weight-loss surgery can affect a person’s
ability to absorb vitamin B-12, making daily injection necessary, adds
Vegetarians can also be at risk of having a B-12 deficiency, says
Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets
of a Kosher Girl.
“Only if someone is deficient would they feel the physical benefits
from the shots,” Warren says. Otherwise, it’s really not going to do anything.
“It does not increase your energy or boost metabolism, other than by
treating the underlying illnesses,” Besser says.
Stanford agrees. “Vitamin B-12 is not a strategy to achieve weight
loss,” she says. Sure, if you’re deficient, vitamin B-12 might give you enough
energy to, say, start exercising again, which might help with weight loss, she
says. But otherwise, it really won’t make a big difference.
Should you take B-12 shots?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you a vegan or vegetarian?
- Have you recently undergone weight-loss surgery?
- Has your doctor told you you’re deficient in vitamin B-12?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then, yes, you
might need to take B-12 shots (again, administered by your doctor).
If you don’t need vitamin B-12 shots, then you probably shouldn’t
take them – but only because they likely won’t do anything for you.
The good news: Taking excess B-12 won’t hurt your health. “One
cannot OD on B-12,” Besser says. Instead, you’ll just pee out whatever your
body doesn’t use. Keep in mind, too, that with any injection, there’s a risk of
irritation and infection at the injection site, she says. Plus… injections hurt.
If you do think you have a B-12 deficiency and could benefit from
the occasional B-12 shot, talk to your doctor to get your B-12 levels tested.
But if you just want to drop pounds and were hoping that injecting yourself
with B-12 would help… it won’t (talk to a dietitian instead to come up with a
plan to eat healthier and exercise regularly).
The bottom line: If you’re not deficient in the vitamin, B-12
shots won’t help you lose weight or feel healthier.
This article was originally
published on www.womenshealthmag.com
Image credit: iStock