Newswise — Feeling sluggish? Gaining weight? What you need is a shot in the arm, claim advertisers for trendy vitamin B12 injections.

Don’t let marketers needle you. “If medical testing confirms that an individual has a vitamin B12 deficiency, a vitamin B12 supplement will help. But if a B12 deficiency has not been identified by a physician or primary care doctor, there is no need to waste energy and money on B12 shots,” says Ashley Barrient, clinical dietitian, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include: fatigueweaknesssore tonguetingling and numbness in fingers and toesdifficulty walkingdepression/mood changememory loss

“Fatigue, weakness and many of the symptoms of B12 deficiency are also symptoms of other nutrient deficiencies and medical conditions,” says Barrient. “Visit your physician and discuss your symptoms before self-diagnosing and self-treating.”

Vitamin B12 is water-soluble and when taken in excess, the body eliminates what it does not need. “The good news is that vitamin B12 is not stored in the body and does not build up toxicity like some other vitamins can when taken in excess through unnecessary supplementation,” says Barrient. “The kidneys will remove what your body cannot use and excrete the excess through your urine.”

Vitamin B12 injections offered through non-medical providers can run from $14 upwards of $50. “If you are not vitamin B12 deficient, these injections are not a good investment,” says Barrient. “Milk, eggs, fish, poultry, and certain fortified cereals are excellent sources of vitamin B12 and focusing on increasing your intake through better eating is free and easy.”

If a vitamin B12 deficiency is confirmed through medical testing, receiving injections from a medical provider has the benefit of not only potentially being safer but also covered by certain medical insurance.

“Your physician and dietitian are the best sources for the identification and treatment of a true nutrient deficiency, and within our Bariatric Clinic at Loyola the Physician and Dietitian work collaboratively to ensure patients achieve and maintain an optimal nutrition status throughout their weight loss journey,” says Barrient. At the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care, Barrient counsels morbidly obese patients on diet and nutrition before, during and after surgical and non-surgical weight-loss programs. “Some of our patients are found to be deficient in vitamin B12 and through our Physician prescribing appropriate vitamin B12 supplementation to correct the deficiency, some individuals note an improvement in energy level. If a deficiency does not exist, supplementing vitamin B12 will likely not have the same positive effect.”