Does Vitamin B-12 Cause Weight Loss?

Here is a frequently asked question by new prospective new patients during a consultation: “Do you provide Vitamin B-12 injections as part of the Serotonin-Plus Program?” The questions is often asked because those people have previously been in “weight loss” programs that provide Vitamin B-12 as part of the weight loss strategy.

First, a bit about Vitamin B-12: This is a water-soluble vitamin found in meats, fish and dairy products. It is often added as a vitamin supplement to waters and other foods/beverages. Vitamin B-12 is important for neurological functions as well as metabolism. The absorption of Vitamin B-12 requires the production of a chemical called “intrinsic factor” by the stomach that binds to the Vitamin B-12 from your dietary intake. The complex of intrinsic factor/Vitamin B-12 then travels down the GI tract to the last part of the small intestine (ileum) where it is then absorbed into the blood stream.

The two potential areas that would inhibit Vitamin B-12 absorption leading to deficiency would be: 1- the stomach does not make enough intrinsic factor (“pernicious anemia”) and 2- the terminal ileum has either been removed by surgery or damaged by such diseases as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Vitamin B-12 deficiency will show up on lab testing as large red blood cells (“macrocytosis) and low Vitamin B-12 levels in the serum.

Now, to the question at hand: Do Vitamin B-12 injections help people lose/control weight? Studies show that unless a person is deficient in Vitamin B-12, injections do not have an impact on weight control. So if that is the case, why do so many “weight loss” clinics administer Vitamin B-12 injections? Well, as our SP does not, I cannot place a firm answer on this, but I suspect that many people with poor weight control will list “fatigue and low energy” as part of their symptoms. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to those symptoms as well, so, if no harm is being done, what the heck? From the business end of these clinics, it is often another “upsell”.

The bottom line: Periodic Vitamin B-12 injections are not harmful but there is no evidence to support giving Vitamin B-12 to people with normal levels help them lose/control weight.

Dr. Robert Posner One of the world’s leading medical weight loss researchers, Robert Posner, MD, operates his state-of-the-art weight loss clinic, Serotonin Plus, in the heart of Burke, Virginia, in the suburban Washington area.

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