There’re a lot of people that always recommend the consumption of supplements especially for those who don’t consume any animal-derived food but little is said about the inefficacy of vitamin B6 and B12 supplements so that is exactly what we are going to see here.
Before we start I want to quote something that the Nation Institutes of Health notes:
“Vitamin B12 supplementation appears to have no beneficial effect on performance in the absence of a nutritional deficit.”
Which in the first instance means that you are losing your money when there is no nutritional deficit and yet you consume supplements, the funny thing is that in most cases there is no nutritional deficit but people assume it is good for their health and it turns out that it is not as they imagine.
Inefficacy of vitamin B6 and B12 supplements
You should know that 50% of the population in the United States —which is the same on many other countries— consumes some form of nutritional supplements. But apart from being a waste of money they can also be dangerous.
The Journal of Clinical Oncology made a publication in which researchers reported that the consumption of supplements of vitamin B6 and B12 in high doses (doses in which they are sold) can triple the probability of lung cancer and in some cases quadruple it.
As you can see, it is a very serious accusation and that is why we must evaluate its methodology to understand how they reached that conclusion.
1998 in Norway, researchers took a sample of 6,837 people with heart disease to which they gave one of these two products: (1) Vitamins B or (2) placebos. After analyzing their health over the years while some died and other contracted diseases, they encountered very alarming concerns regarding those who consumed vitamins.
In 2009 (11 years later), it was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the consumption of high doses of vitamin B12 at the same time as folic acid (technically vitamin B9) were associated with an increased risk of cancer and a increase in general mortality.
The increase in cancer risk was higher for the case of lung cancer. Although cancer cases were few considering the sample of the people who consumed vitamins, it was large enough to get our attention.
There is also another research done at the National University of Taiwan where they studied the consumption of B vitamins and cancer. They managed to find much more significant data than in the Norwegian report.
The risk of lung cancer in men who consumed 20 milligrams of vitamin B6 a day for several years proved to be twice as risky as those men who did not consume it.
Men who consumed 55 micrograms of vitamin B12 a day quadrupled their risk of developing lung cancer. This risk was even greater for men who smoked and consumed this vitamin supplement.
This is the alarming part where companies sell pills with 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 and pills with 5,000 micrograms of vitamin B12.
Currently, the supplements have been absolved from these safety requirements for the consumer where they do not even have to warn the risks linked to their consumption and they do not need to prove their effectiveness to be able to go to the market.
All this is possible due to the 1995 law called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in the United States that also has its analog in most countries around the world.
This law was created by the political intervention of this industry with the purpose of keeping away the official regulations that apply to medicines and foods. In this way, the industry itself is the only one that self-regulates their products so there is no security or guarantee for the consumer.
Certainly much more research is needed for the case of women, for other situations and with more reiterations to confirm conclusions. Although, for now what has been found is enough to suspect a lot of these products and be very careful.
Moreover, by the principle of prevention, those investigations are enough to stop the consumption of supplements and to stop any recommendation about them, until there is an investigation to clarify the safety of those supplements. Therefore, until further notice my official statement is that there is a great ineffectiveness of vitamin B6 and B12 as supplements.
Just don’t consume them, look for natural alternatives that always exist and are way better to ensure that you’re consuming a good variety of nutrients. With regard to vitamin B12, most people say that we can only get B12 through animal-derived foods but that’s not true. Bacteria is the one who produce B12, so you can find this vitamin in fermented foods under moderate consumption of them.
That was all the research for now, in the future I’ll be commenting more on this topic so subscribe to the newsletter by [clicking here].
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See you in the next post. Tschüss!
- Vitamin B6 and B12 Supplements Appear to Cause Cancer in Men | James Hamblin | 2017-08-25 | The Atlantic | [Link]
- Cancer incidence and mortality after treatment with folic acid and vitamin B12 | Ebbing M, Bønaa KH, Nygård O, Arnesen E, Ueland PM, Nordrehaug JE, Rasmussen K, Njølstad I, Refsum H, Nilsen DW, Tverdal A, Meyer K, Vollset SE | JAMA. 2009 Nov 18;302(19):2119-26 | [Link]
- Long-Term, Supplemental, One-Carbon Metabolism-Related Vitamin B Use in Relation to Lung Cancer Risk in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort | Brasky TM, White E, Chen CL | J Clin Oncol. 2017 Oct 20;35(30):3440-3448 | [Link]