Can Taking Too Many Vitamin B12 And Folic Acid Supplements Hurt Me
Not usually. B12 and folic acid are water-soluble, thus the body will rid itself of any excess by eliminating it in the urine. However, taking folic acid can mask low B12 levels, so it can be important to be tested for both before beginning folate supplementation. Individuals who are allergic to cobalt should not take B12, and those with the hereditary eye disease Lebers disease may experience harm to the optic nerve if they take B12
Where Can I Get B12
“The best food sources are meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, and fortified cereals,” says Wong.
As vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal-based food products, vegetarians and vegans may not get enough of it in their diet and require supplements. Medical conditions may also require a person to seek out additional amounts of the vitamin.
Get Healthy Hair Nails And Skin
New cells need vitamin B12 to form properly. Without enough of the vitamin, the cell may become deformed and unstable. Skin, hair, and nails are all places where cell production happens rapidly. Not having normal vitamin B12 levels makes a visible impact. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause different dermatologic symptoms. These may range from hyperpigmentation to nail discoloration to inflamed and cracked corners of your mouth.
Making sure your body has the proper levels of vitamin B12 will keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy. If you are already experiencing any of the dermatologic symptoms, boosting your vitamin B12 has been shown to improve and ease those symptoms. Improving any visible symptoms will also improve your self-esteem and mood.
You May Like: What Does Vitamin A And D Do
How Do You Know If You Have A B12 Deficiency
The symptoms of a B12 deficiency include exhaustion and difficulty concentrating. Early symptoms may be as subtle as feeling worn out and weak. Because B12 is so important for your metabolism, if youre having difficulty losing weight, you may need more B12.
The symptoms of B12 deficiency are varied and may include:
- Numbness or tingling in your limbs
- Depression or paranoia
What Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia
Having vitamin B12 deficiency means that your body does not have enough of this vitamin. You need B12 to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen through your body. Not having enough B12 can lead to anemia, which means your body does not have enough red blood cells to do the job. This can make you feel weak and tired. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause damage to your nerves and can affect memory and thinking.
You May Like: How Much Is Ritual Vitamins
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms And Causes
Between 1.5% and 15% of the general population is vitamin B12 deficient. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include megaloblastic anemia in which abnormally sized or immature red blood cells are produced weight loss, weakness, neurological changes like memory loss and depression, as well as fatigue.
Your small intestine helps absorb B12 with help from a substance secreted by the stomach known as intrinsic factor. This makes people with certain health conditions more susceptible to B12 deficiency.
“Without intrinsic factor, the free vitamin B12 in the digestive tract is unable to be absorbed,” says Graber. “Deficiencies of this glycoprotein, or a shortening of the small intestine where the B12 is absorbed, can lead to an inadequate amount of dietary vitamin B12.”
People with Crohn’s Disease, or complications due to intestine shortening from surgeries are often at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, says Graber.
Spotlight On Three Of The Bs: Folate Vitamin B6 And Vitamin B12
One of the advances that changed the way we look at vitamins was the discovery that too little folate is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Folate Vitamin B9
Another line of research about folate and two other B vitamins, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, explores their roles in reducing some types of cancer and heart disease.
Also Check: How Long Does A Vitamin B Shot Last
Treatment Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 supplements
For people with nerve damage, vitamin B12 given by injection
Older people with vitamin B12 deficiency benefit from taking vitamin B12 supplements because the deficiency usually results from difficulty absorbing the vitamin from meat. They can absorb the vitamin more easily from supplements than from meat.
Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia consists of high doses of vitamin B12 supplements. If people have the deficiency but no symptoms, the vitamin may be taken by mouth. Blood tests are done periodically to make sure the vitamin B12 level returns to and remains normal.
People who have very low levels of vitamin B12 or symptoms due to nerve damage are usually given vitamin B12 by injection into a muscle. Injections, which may be self-administered, are given daily or weekly for several weeks until the vitamin B12 level returns to normal. Then injections are given once a month indefinitely, unless the disorder causing the deficiency can be corrected.
Anemia usually resolves in about 6 weeks. But if severe symptoms due to nerve damage last for months or years, they may become permanent. In most older people with vitamin B12 deficiency and dementia, mental function does not improve after treatment.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
If a person is deficient in both B12 and folate but only takes folic acid supplements, the B12 deficiency may be masked. The anemia associated with both may be resolved, but the underlying neuropathy will persist.
Intrinsic factor antibodies can interfere with the vitamin B12 test, producing falsely elevated results. If a person has these antibodies in their blood, the results of their B12 test must be interpreted with caution.
Since folate deficiency is rarely seen in the U.S., some laboratories no longer offer the folate test. Your sample may need to be sent to a reference laboratory.
Read Also: What Vitamins To Improve Immune System
Research Shows Vitamin B12 Can Improve Cognitive Health In The Elderly
Some studies have associated low vitamin B12 status with lower cognitive function scores in the elderly .
On this note, one study of 259 patients with vitamin B12 deficiency found that 84.2% of the patients with severe B12 deficiency experienced memory loss .
Harvard Medical School supports this link between B12 and memory loss, noting that a typical deficiency symptom is difficulty thinking and reasoning , or memory loss .
Vitamin B6 May Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk
The recommended daily amount of vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is 1.3 mg for adults up to the age of 50, according to the National Institutes of Health. Pregnant or breast-feeding teens and women need even more vitamin B6 daily about 2 mg. You can find vitamin B6 in the following foods:
- Wheat germ
- Whole-grain flour
Vitamin B6 is important because it’s involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body’s cells, helping us metabolize amino acids from our food and build new red blood cells. There is intriguing research that B6 may help reduce the risk of heart disease, but this benefit has not yet been definitely established. The health benefits of vitamin B6 uncovered by clinical research include reduction in heart disease risk. Although deficiency in this vitamin is rare in the United States, it can lead to muscle weakness, depression, irritability, short term memory loss, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating.
Read Also: What Vitamins Are Good For Penile Growth
Are Vitamin B12 Injections Worth The Hype Our Expert Explains
There are more pros than cons.
Vitamin B12 injections: A temporary wellness trend or an essential part of overall health? In the last few years, wellness centers and holistic beauty spas have added this buzzy treatment to their menu. In fact, our local farmers market offers walk-in vitamin shots, like immune boosters, vitamin D3, and more.
Typically a straightforward experience, these injections have become increasingly popular and for good reason. Although vitamin B12 injections are usually prescribed to treat a vitamin B12 deficiency, these shots are akin to insurance: Even if youre in good health, you never know when you might need support. Vitamin B12 injections are touted for boosting energy, improving sleep, and more. And dont fret, these shots are administered by experienced medical professionals, like registered nurses.
Producing Red Blood Cells
Your body needs vitamin B12 in order to create red blood cells. These cells distribute oxygen to the rest of the body. The reduction in red blood cell production is why patients with B12 deficiency report feeling so extremely fatigued , sort of like the fatigue you get from altitude sickness.
Should You Take Vitamin B12 Shots For Weight Loss? The fat burning B12 injections hype is just that, hype. B12 is not a magic pill. Is B12 good for weight loss? Well, only to the extent of your corrected metabolism if you were deficient in first place . For healthy folks, taking B12 for weight loss is wishful thinking. If you see brands tout their B12 as a weight loss solution, beware. Theyre putting their financial interests before you.
Those were the benefits of B12 itself. But what are B12 shots good for, and why cant you just use oral B12 tablets instead? It all comes down to absorption.
Recommended Reading: Can I Buy Vitamin D2 Over The Counter
What Are Vitamin B12 Injections
As you consider the pros and cons of a vitamin B12 injection, its helpful to understand what they are and how they work. Injections are given intramuscularly, whether you visit a doctors office, med spa, or in my case, walk up to my neighborhood wellness truck. In other words, a quick shot. They can either be prescribed by a doctor or made via appointment. Some wellness centers take walk-ins too.
Injections are usually administered as hydroxocobalamin or cyanocobalamin . These are very effective at raising blood levels of vitamin B12, thus preventing or reversing a vitamin B12 deficiency. Hydroxocobalamin, in particular, is usually the recommended option as it stays in the body longer. On average, the price of an injection costs anywhere from $20-$100.
Can Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia Be Prevented
Most people who eat animal products like milk or cheese will not get this B12 deficiency anemia. People who follow a vegan diet can prevent it by taking a daily vitamin pill or by eating foods that have been fortified with B12.
Babies born to women who eat a vegan diet should be checked by a doctor to see whether they need extra vitamin B12.
If you have pernicious anemia or another reason you cannot absorb enough vitamin B12, your doctor will give you vitamin B12 shots or pills to prevent deficiency.
You May Like: Do Vitamin B12 Shots Work
Medications That Interfere With Vitamin B12 Supplements
Common treatments for heartburn and GERD , also known as acid reflux, such as H2 blockers and proton-pump inhibitors, may contribute to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Proton-pump inhibitors slow the release of gastric acid, which is needed to start digesting and absorbing vitamin B12 found in food. But studies have yet to conclude if proton-pump inhibitors interfere enough with digestion to result in low vitamin B12 levels. The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that doctors monitor the vitamin B12 status of patients on proton-pump inhibitors.
H2 blockers can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption because they slow the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. H2 inhibitors could cause problems in people who do not get enough vitamin B12 and who take the medication for more than two years, according to the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements.
Other drugs that affect stomach acid have been linked to poor vitamin B12 absorption, including the cholesterol drug cholestyramine the antibiotics chloramphenicol and neomycin and the gout treatment colchicine.
The diabetes drug metformin may interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamin B12 not through stomach acid, but because of the drug’s effect on calcium, which is also needed to absorb vitamin B12. More research is needed to determine if calcium supplements may help vitamin B12 absorption in diabetes patients, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Keep Your Brain Healthy
Your brain needs a lot of different vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for brain health because of its function in cell metabolism and formation. Vitamin B12 helps your neurons to create and regenerate the nerve fiber sheaths that protect the neuron and speed up brain processes.
The stronger your myelin sheaths are, the faster your neurons fire, meaning you think, remember and recall faster. Because of this, vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to memory loss in older adults.
There is evidence that boosting your vitamin B12 will improve your memory. It may even slow the decline for people with early-stage dementia. Giving your body the vitamin B12 it needs will make sure your neurons can regenerate their sheaths properly and create new ones as they grow.
Read Also: What Vitamin Helps Tighten Skin
Who Is At Risk
Vegans face a risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency, as their diet excludes animal-sourced food products. Pregnancy and lactation can worsen deficiency in vegans. Plant-sourced foods do not have enough cobalamin to guarantee long-term health.
People with pernicious anemia may lack vitamin B-12. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease that affects the blood. Patients with this disorder do not have enough intrinsic factor , a protein in the stomach that allows the body to absorb vitamin B-12.
Other at-risk groups include people with small intestine problems, for example, an individual whose small intestine has been surgically shortened. They may not be able to absorb cobalamin properly. People with Crohns disease are said to be at risk, but researchers maintain that there is a lack of evidence to confirm this.
Treatment includes vitamin B-12 injections. A vitamin B-12 injection must be administered to people that have problems with nutrient absorption.
How Much Folate Do I Need
Adults need 200 micrograms of folate a day. A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram . The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol Î¼ followed by the letter g .
There are no long-term stores in the body, so you need to eat folate-containing foods frequently.
Most people should be able to get the amount of folate they need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
Recommended Reading: Can You Take Vitamin C With Blood Thinners
Where You Get It
Your body cannot produce vitamin B12, but it is commonly found in animal products. This includes milk, cheese, eggs, poultry, and fish. While it is not naturally found in plants, some cereals may be fortified with vitamin B12. People who dont eat any animal products may experience vitamin B12 deficiency, but vitamin B12 can also be received through injection or as an oral supplement.
May Help Protect/fight Against Dementia
Firstly, there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin B12 can help to prevent dementia.
A systematic review of the existing data on this topic found that there was insufficient evidence to show a clear link between serum vitamin B12 levels and dementia.
However, insufficient evidence is precisely that it means we cannot currently confirm a link, but it does not say that there is no possible benefit.
Given the importance of vitamin B12 to energy systems, the brain, and the neurological system, some researchers feel the vitamin may help to reduce dementia risk .
Some research also suggests that keeping levels of B12 high may be important for people living with dementia.
In a recent study featuring 165 Alzheimers patients, suboptimal levels of vitamin B12 were significantly associated with rapid cognitive decline .
Don’t Miss: Is There A Vitamin D
Take Vitamin B5 For Healthy Hormones
All people age 14 and older should get 5 mg of vitamin B5 each day, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. You can find vitamin B5 in vegetables of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and kale, as well as in avocado. In addition, whole-grain cereals, potatoes, dairy, and organ meats are good sources. This type of B vitamin is needed for many of the biochemical reactions that go on in our cells each day, including the breakdown of carbohydrates and lipids for energy. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, you need vitamin B5 in your diet every day. Pantothenic acid is necessary for our bodies to produce hormones, and it’s also needed for growth.
Pregnancy Lactation And Early Childhood
The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for pregnancy is 2.6 µg/day, for lactation 2.8 µg/day. Determination of these values was based on the RDA of 2.4 µg/day for non-pregnant women plus what will be transferred to the fetus during pregnancy and what will be delivered in breast milk. However, looking at the same scientific evidence, the European Food Safety Authority sets adequate intake at 4.5 g/day for pregnancy and 5.0 g/day for lactation. Low maternal vitamin B12, defined as serum concentration less than 148 pmol/L, increases the risk of miscarriage, newborn low birth weight and preterm birth. During pregnancy the placenta concentrates B12, so that newborn infants have a higher serum concentration than their mothers. What the mother-to-be consumes during the pregnancy is more important than that of her liver tissue, as it is recently absorbed vitamin content that more effectively reaches the placenta. Women who consume a small percentage of their diet from animal-sourced foods or who by choice consume a vegetarian or vegan diet are at higher risk than those consuming higher amounts of animal-sourced foods for becoming vitamin depleted during pregnancy, which can lead to anemia, and also an increased risk that their breastfed infants become vitamin deficient.
Read Also: What Is The B6 Vitamin