Mill Valley residents’ fast-growing concept makes vitamin B12 injections available in pop-up events in their space on Evergreen Ave. and at seven other Bay Area locations.

Shannon Wood-Gallegos, at center, with her Got Vitamin B12 team, from left, Tierney Freed, Veronica Hammer, Dr. Christian Anguiano and Leslie Ramirez. Courtesy image.

PictureShannon Wood-Gallegos and Armando Gallegos and their three children. Courtesy image.

Many local business owners have taken circuitous routes to Mill Valley, but few can match that of Got Vitamin B12 founder and naturopathic physician Shannon Wood-Gallegos – she’s been around the world and back.

After getting a degree in biological sciences and a master’s in nutrition and food science from California State University, Chico, the Ukiah native spent a year traveling around the United States visiting every Major League Baseball stadium in what calls “one of the best years of my life.” She then became a flight attendant for United Airlines out of New York City, flying the friendly skies across the globe for more than three years.

Wood-Gallegos continued her medical training at Bastyr University, where she graduated as a Naturopathic Physician in 2005. She also completed the Naturopathic Midwifery program there and has since assisted in hundreds of births, including serving as a midwife in a local hospital on the island of Vanuatu.

She then opened her own practice in the Seattle, Washington area, focusing on midwifery and postpartum care for new moms for three years before she was recruited to be the medical director for a wellness facility funded by a trio of Microsoft executives, managing the business side of the facility.

“That was a really great experience for me, because until that I’d had very little business training, and running your practice as a business is critical,” says Wood-Gallegos says, who moved to Mill Valley with her husband Armando and three young children in 2014. “Not a lot of medical practitioners know how to present their business and do marketing and outside sales.”

When she moved to the Bay Area to be closer to her family in Ukiah, Wood-Gallegos was hired by an herbal supplement firm as their medical educator, lecturing at conferences around the country. While doing so, she opened her own naturopathic practice in San Francisco’s Mission district, starting at 1-2 days per week and expanding it over time.

That’s when the vitamin B12 light bulb happened.

Wood-Gallegos had been providing vitamin B12 injections to her midwifery clients in Seattle for years – “it was a good way to give my mommies a much-needed boost,” she says – and she started hearing from Bay Area clients that there was quite a bit of demand for the vitamin.

According to the National Institute for Health, Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. A deficiency of Vitamin B12 is characterized by anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss, and a study by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that as much as 40 percent of the population could have such a deficiency.

Wood-Gallegos started hosting “B12 Happy Hour” events at her San Francisco practice, and the response was off the charts, with 50-60 people showing in a 2-3 hour period – so much so that it has become its own business. The couple has opened “happy hour” locations at 7 offices around the Bay Area, with an eighth on the way. That includes the space on Evergreen, which they opened in late 2016.

“It’s just done incredibly well,” Wood-Gallegos says, noting that she’s thrilled to live and work in Mill Valley, which she calls similar to her hometown of Ukiah in many ways. “There’s a great sense of community here that doesn’t exist in many places,” she says.

With a increasingly popular service, the couple drew on Wood-Gallegos’ experience running her own practice, and came up with, perhaps, the secret sauce, so to speak. They’ve been leasing medical offices on days and times when the practitioner is not open, a smart business model that is mutually beneficial for both lessor and lessee in terms of getting new patients, Wood-Gallegos says.

But in her own practice or with Got Vitamin B12, Wood-Gallegos continues to emphasize what she learned in her academic studies many years ago: “Our philosophy is very different from most in that we look at the whole person, particularly diet, lifestyle, and determine how we can treat people instead of just throwing medications at symptoms. It’s been a great journey so far, and I’m excited with where we’re at.”

The 411: Got Vitamin B12 is at 25 Evergreen Ave. with happy hours on Tuesday and Thursday. MORE INFO.

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