Discover whether you really need this B12 injection

Vitamin B12 - The Good Life Letter

11th September 2009

  • The latest celebrity health fad - do you really need this injection?
  • Revealed! The scary vegetable that keeps you going 16% longer!
  • How to make your own home-made energy boost

Where would we be without the rich and famous?

They're not content with singing, dancing, battling aliens, eating maggots in the jungle, falling out of taxis, jumping on Oprah's sofa, buying African children, bankrolling The Priory and marrying each other... divorcing each other... and marrying each other again....


First came the celebrity fitness videos...

As you know, exercise didn't exist until Jane Fonda got involved. We used to lie all day on brown '70s sofas, eating lard, until good old Jane came along.

Then came the celebrity diets...

South Beach, Atkins, Blood Type, Raw Food. You name it, yet another A-list celebrity's weight was yo-yoing higher and lower than....well.... a yo-yo.

Then came the celebrity injections...

First, botox. Suddenly celebs were walking around with faces like wax models of dinner plates. Actresses
couldn't act any more. They now looked like plastic 'Billy Bass' novelty singing fish.

Then came the latest.... vitamin B12 jabs.

The Madonna effect

In 2008, Madonna was merrily brandishing a syringe, gushing about the B12 effect. And, allegedly, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Geri Halliwell and Robbie Williams all swear by the stuff.

(If you've not heard of any of the above people, I envy you!)

The idea is that you get a big shot of B12 directly into your body. It's about six hundred times bigger than the daily recommended amount of 1.5mcg.

This gives you an energy rush that lasts about a fortnight. It's supposed to be good for skin and general well-being too.

So is this worth checking out?

Well, first off. Do not attempt to give yourself a shot of vitamin B12 and don't "phone a friend" either. If you're going to get this treatment, you MUST go through a medical professional.

If you go through the proper channels, then there's no likely danger in the short term.

A review of a B12 conducted by the Food Standards Agency a few years ago was inconclusive about injections of high doses of B12 into the bloodstream. The only reservation it had was regarding the long term effects.

However, Catherine Collins, the chief dietician at St George's Hospital in London warned in an interview with the Daily Mail:

"The digestive system ordinarily acts as a filter with food and to some extent oral supplements, making it actually quite difficult to overdose on nutrients. But by bypassing the gut and going straight into veins, the body is unable to perform its natural screening process."

So... do YOU really need this injection?

It seems that there are a fair few types of people who SHOULD enquire with their doctor about B12.

  • Elderly people with symptoms including tremors, tiredness and other neurological symptoms. It's estimated that 10%-15% of people over the age of 60 have a vitamin B12 deficiency. This can lead to all the above problems.

  • People with pernicious anaemia. Normal anaemia is caused by lack or iron. But pernicious anaemia occurs when your body kills off the B12 you eat. This means that eating more foods containing vitamin B12 diet won't cure the problem.

  • Some vegetarians and vegans. Because B12 is found mainly in meat, fish and dairy products, some vegetarians who experience a deficiency may need the shots for a quicker recovery. Saying that, long-term vegans and vegetarians are said to be more efficient at absorbing B12 from foods.  You can also get B12 from Brewer's yeast. But not all nutritional yeast products contain B12. So make sure you read the label.

  • Heavy drinkers and smokers, pregnant and breast-feeding women. Sometimes they can also need an extra boost of vitamin B12. Although they CAN get this vitamin from their food.

However, most people need only a B12 supplement, or to up their intake of B12 foods, which include mussels, oysters, clams, liver, beef, lamb, trout, salmon, eggs, and hard cheeses.

Using the shot simply as an energy booster doesn't look much more than a fad of the jet-set crowd. It's particularly good for hangovers apparently, so it fits the pop-star lifestyle.

It makes it the latest "in-thing" for rich bored celebrities who spend half their lives drunk... and the other half in therapy moaning about drink.

Here's an easier method for normal people...

If you want to give yourself a home-made shot of energy, then try this...

The scary vegetable that boosts stamina

This year a research team, led by the University of Exeter, has discovered that drinking a glass of beetroot juice can boost your stamina.

The nitrate in beetroot juice causes a reduction in your uptake of oxygen. This slows the rate at you become tired. The study claims that if you're doing strenuous exercise, you'll be able to keep going for 16% longer.

And there's only one side-effect....

This is one that I noticed only the other week when I went to the loo in the morning. I nearly fainted when I saw the red colour in the toilet bowl.

My old hypochondria came flooding back.

"My god I am going to die!" muttered my paranoid brain.

Thankfully, my endless days and nights musing over food and health issues came to the rescue.

I suddenly knew what the problem was.

Eating a lot of beetroot or drinking beetroot juice can lead to something called Beeturia, which turns your urine a very scary red.

I'd completely forgotten that I'd eaten a beetroot salad the night before!

But hey, as side effects go, there are plenty worse. And beetroot is a food worth getting into your system for other reasons....

Research by Barts and the London School of Medicine and the Peninsula Medical School, in 2008 found that beetroot juice reduced your blood pressure.

And it's good for your heart too.

Beetroot contains a powerful little substance called betaine, which can help lower your levels of homocysteine. This has been linked with heart disease if it's produced too keenly. So getting betaine into your system helps make sure homocysteine doesn't build up.

Tasty ways to get beetroot into your diet

To get your beetroot fix, boil some beetroot 'til soft, or get hold of pre-cooked beetroot in its own juices (not vinegar).

You can then juice yourself some of the pure stuff.

Or take a couple of apples, a couple of carrots, and some cooked beetroot. Now juice them together. This is far more palatable in my opinion.

My other tip is to try this salad....

Take some fresh salad leaves, chopped spring onion, handful of crushed walnuts, some crumbled feta cheese, thinly sliced celery and slices or chunks of beetroot. Make a dressing out of lemon, oil, parsley, salt and pepper.

Toss it all together. Eat. Lovely.

Or here's a diet I was sent last year by a Good Lifer which involved beetroot. I think it's worth repeating again...

"I got fed up with finding my clothes uncomfortably tight so I decided I had to do something about it. I have lost 2 stone so far which has stayed off. And I feel fitter than I have for years. Here is what I eat:

*Breakfast is porridge.

*Lunch is salad with Rye bread, beetroot and sometimes sardines or mackerel.

*Evening is fish (salmon, trout, haddock, hake) cooked in the oven. And I mix chopped up celery, onion, leeks and courgettes in a dish, cooked alongside the fish. Sometimes I cook chicken in which case I will have carrots and broccoli with it and sweet potatoes.

 *Between meals I eat any of these (fresh) - cherries, apricots, raspberries,  blueberries.

Let's all hear it for beetroot, then!

And if you eat too much, please NO fainting in the loos, gents. It looks bad, but it's not the end of the world!















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