Your body uses vitamin B-12 to synthesize DNA and to keep your nerves and blood cells healthy. If you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, your doctor may prescribe a supplement because deficiency in this vitamin can cause serious health problems such as anemia. Vitamin B-12 is available in several forms, including parenteral, which is injected by a physician, and sublingual, which dissolves under the tongue.
Advantages to Sublingual B-12
Sublingual vitamin B-12 supplementation can be effective for patients who experience issues with other B-12 supplementation methods such as injections. Patients experiencing diarrhea or vomiting can typically tolerate sublingual B-12 administration because medications that are absorbed sublingually are able to enter the body without going through the gastrointestinal system.
Disadvantages to Sublingual B-12
Unlike the vitamin B-12 injection, sublingual vitamin B-12 may result in an unpleasant taste because the substance must remain under your tongue until it is completely dissolved. However, it is possible to create sublingual medications with pleasant tastes. The other disadvantage to sublingual B-12 is that most patients would need to ingest the supplement daily, which could be difficult for some people to remember, as with any daily self-administered medication.
Advantages to Injectable B-12
Injectable B-12 is a widely used treatment for vitamin B-12 deficiency, so your healthcare provider is most likely very familiar with this form of supplementation. A healthcare practitioner must administer this method of vitamin B-12 supplementation, so it is easily supervised and monitored, making it less likely for you to make a dosage error. Further, with injectable vitamin B-12, you do not have to remember to take a supplement each day, unlike the sublingual method.
Disadvantages to Injectable B-12
While injectable B-12 is a commonly prescribed treatment for vitamin B-12 deficiency, it does have some notable drawbacks. Because vitamin B-12 injections are intramuscular, they can be difficult to administer to thin patients. Injections are also known to be painful, which may cause some patients to abandon treatment. Moreover, elderly or disabled patients may have difficulties traveling to a physician's office for injection administration or affording the treatment if they don't have insurance to cover it.
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12
- The Lancet: Sublingual Therapy for Cobalamin Deficiency as an Alternative to Oral and Parenteral Cobalamin Supplementation
- Family Practice: Oral Vitamin B12 Versus Intramuscular Vitamin B12 for Vitamin B12 Deficiency: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
- Pediatrics: Alternative Routes of Drug Administration- Advantages and Disadvantages
- British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology: Replacement Therapy for Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Comparison Between the Sublingual and Oral Route
- Georgia Pharmacy Technician: Routes of Administration