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B12 Patches, B12 Injections, Orals, Losenges? Which to choose?

by Sadie Roberts

B12 is a hot topic at the moment, especially as some of those who usually get injections can’t during this covid lockdown. Could B12 patches be a good replacement?

What is B12 deficiency and how does it impact your well being?

The symptom it’s most famous for is fatigue, but Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms can also manifest in many other ways:

  • Pins and needles
  • Brain fog – cognitive issues
  • Mood changes – depression, anxiety, nervousness
  • Visual neuropathy – vision disturbances
  • Dizziness and changes in mobility
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Pale or jaundiced skin

Here’s some more symptom information from the NHS.

There are such a wide array of symptoms because B12 plays an important role in red blood cell production. It makes sure your nervous system is functioning properly, keeps your DNA healthy and is associated with many other functions.

If you’re ticking some of the above symptoms, try using this deficiency calculator run by the Vitamin B12 Deficiency Charity Support Group whose website offers lots of support.

What can help with B12 deficiency?

When I was first diagnosed with ME/CFS I started self-injecting daily with B12. It made a measurable difference to me, especially with my cognitive function, which had gotten so bad I was sent for an MRI to rule out early onset dementia (that was scary!).

I was impressed to know that I was in good company, apparently chess Grand Masters inject with B12 in the run-up to matches. Although at the time, snap was about my cognitive limit. (If anyone knows a chess Grand Master we’d love to send them some B12 patches to try!)

I eventually got fed up of stabbing myself though. I knew orals weren’t much cop as B12 is water-soluble and can’t be stored by the body. So a dose that’s supposed to last a whole day, swallowed in the morning… most of it is excreted (hence the fluorescent urine you get while taking oral B12). B12 patches fix this issue as they slowly release into the bloodstream over 8 hours. Losenges are also a great alternative to pills. They work because the nutrients are absorbed under the tongue and enter the bloodstream directly without having to go through the gastrointestinal tract.

B12 absorption problems.

Seeking Health offer a good Adeno B12 losenge (all of their supplements are great, they were my go to brand whilst I was very ill). Adenosylcobalamin is a form of B12 that’s more easily utilised by the body compared to methyl versions. Some of us are unable to convert and therefore utilise methyl B12. Blood tests can show good levels of B12 and yet deficiency symptoms are still there. This could be due to an inability to convert, so an adeno version would be worth trying if you’re still showing signs of deficiency even though you’re supplementing.

I now only use the Patch Aid B12 patches and I can tell if I’ve forgotten to put one on (ahem, not that I ever do…). The cogs in my brain start to slow, I’m reaching for vocabulary, forgetting why I’m doing something, etc etc. And then it dawns on me – I haven’t got my patch on!

Dietary sources of Vitamin B12:

Diet. It wouldn’t be a post from me if I didn’t mention diet! The best food sources for B12 are; seafood, shellfish and liver. (I used to crave squid and octopus, which made sense when I found out how high in B12 it is!) This list obviously isn’t great if you’re vegan or vegetarian. If you’re not vegan, then dairy is a source of B12 (but it’s near the bottom of the best sources list). So supplementation would be a good precautionary measure.

Remember, I’m no expert. I’m just sharing my experience and what I’ve learnt along the way. Always seek qualified advice if you have medical concerns.