Sometimes there is real danger in getting too much bang for your buck. That’s the case with B vitamins, says ConsumerLab.com, after the organization tested popular vitamins and found that many contained potentially toxic amounts of the vitamin as well as misleading labels.
The Food and Drug Administration recently warned that the daily values assigned to most B vitamins are too high and may be dangerous to your health. But although the FDA reduced the values, manufacturers don’t have to change their label to reflect the new guidelines until at least 2018.
CL, a consumer information provider, tested 49 supplements from the U.S. and Canada containing B Complexes as well as the eight individual B vitamins: thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyroxidine (B-6), biotin (B-7), folate (folic acid, B-9) and cobalamin (B-12).
“We found that nearly all B vitamins currently have misleading information with respect to the percentage of Daily Values they provide,” says Dr. Tod Cooperman, ConsumerLab.com’s president and founder. “You are often getting more than you think, need or should want.
“Like most vitamins, B vitamins are essential,” Cooperman tells Newsmax Health. “There are eight different B vitamins and since your body can’t make them you must get them from your diet or from supplements. But while they can be beneficial in the right dose, too much can cause toxicity.”
B vitamins play crucial roles in our bodies. For example certain B vitamins have been found to be beneficial in reducing the risk of strokes and others may slow the decline in memory, cognition, and even Alzheimer’s disease, says Cooperman.
Deficiency in B-3 — also known as niacin — B-6, and B-12 can cause depression. Low levels of B-12 have been associated with increased risk of canker sores.
Sometimes people can’t get enough B vitamins from their diet and that’s where supplementation can be helpful. Older people who may be taking medicine to lower stomach acid, pregnant women and individuals with certain genetic mutations can fall into this category.
But taking these vitamins can be a double edged sword if the labels do not correctly reflect the accurate dosage contained in each tablet or the tablet contains what CL calls the UL or “upper limit” of vitamin value.
Folate, for example, is important in reducing birth defects of the spinal cord and is therefore a critical ingredient in prenatal vitamins. But at a high dosage, it may increase the risk for certain cancers.
Niacin, when taken at very high doses, can improve cholesterol levels but can also cause side effects such as skin flushing and liver toxicity.
“Too much B-6 can cause heartburn, nausea and photosensitivity,” notes Cooperman. “At very high levels it can also cause nerve damage and skin lesions.
“You need to be most careful with three of the B vitamins and those are niacin, B-6 and folate. These, in inappropriate doses, can be the most dangerous. Most people, especially vegans or vegetarians, get too little of vitamin B-12 from their diet, but fortunately it is the safest one to take. If that’s all you need, simply take B-12 supplements and skip the rest until the manufacturing labels on other forms of B vitamins adhere to the new FDA standards of Daily Values.”
CL did find that your best bet for getting the correct Daily Value in an all inclusive B-Complex vitamin was also the least expensive. Their top pick was Kirkland Signature (Costco) B-Complex which provides a least 100 percent of the Daily Value without exceeding the UL or upper limit values for a mere 2 cents a tablet.
For more specific information on which brands were tested, failed, or approved, visit www.ConsumerLab.com.
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