Vitamin B has a lot of hype behind it as the feel-good vitamin. And rightfully so, since most of us know of its energizing effects from downing Emergen-C — sort of the grown-up Kool-Aid that has seven types of B (along with immune-boosting C, of course) — after a late night or just, well, a hectic 9 to 5 (plus some). And there’s a legit physiological explanation for this: “Vitamin B12 is important for optimal functioning of your brain and nervous system, the formation of red-blood cells, and is also connected to energy production and mood regulation,” says Frank Lipman, M.D., an integrative and functional medicine physician and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.
But because us humans don’t make B12 on our own, there are reasons why your levels might be less than stellar — the most notable medical explanation being a type of anemia, which can cause fatigue, depression, low-blood pressure, and poor memory. “In food, [vitamin B12] is mostly found in those foods related to animal products — eggs, beef, crab, lobster, fish, cheese — so vegetarians and vegans are at risk for low levels, as well as people over 50 because they tend to have decreasing levels of the stomach acid needed to absorb B12,” says Lipman.
But there are other ways your B12 can plummet: “A number of medications and high-alcohol consumption can also reduce the body's ability to effectively absorb this essential vitamin,” says Lipman. As well as when you’re simply run down, which is part of the popularity of B12 shots — an easy pepper-upper, without all the harmful side effects of caffeine or drugs. “Sometimes people come in regularly, and sometimes we just use it when their energy is very low,” says. Dr. Lipman, who typically starts patients off with a 1000 mg shot monthly or bi-monthly. “The initial boost of energy will last about 24 to 48 hours, the ongoing effects are more subtle, but are definitely continuing to have an effect internally — there's no huge surge, just a nice feeling of more energy and there's no crash.”
Photographed by Jacqueline Harriet
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