Can you overdose on vitamin B12?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by colowhisper, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

    Sep 22, 2012
    I take a multi-vitamin called Orange Trian that has a huge amount of B12. Was never that concerned since doctors recommend multi-vitamins all the time. But then I noticed the ingredients of that 5 Hour Energy drink that I occasionally use before a match and it has a crazy amount of B12 too. Yikes, 17000% of normal daily intake got me thinking. Could this be dangerous?
  2. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Good question.

    Most aren't aware enough to even ask it.

    And is brings attention to the larger problem of us taking mutliple different medications, supplements and drinks that could push the amount of any one additive into the ridiculously excessive category.

    More isn't necessarily better.

    The body has a "recipe" for the chemical reactions that keep us healthy.

    Just like one egg added to a bread recipe would make a nice loaf of bread, adding 17000 eggs to the recipe would not lead to a nice loaf of bread.

    One problem everyone recognizes on the internet is that there is information overload.

    Taking nutritional supplements as an example, many sites tout supplements as important to treat or prevent "this" or "that".

    But they very often don't give the "whole truth".
    [Some even have a conflict of interest in that they sell the supplements.]

    That is why I like to turn to a "reputable site" for questions like this.

    Three of them include Medline Plus (run by the National Institute of Health), the Mayo Clinic, and Web MD.

    [Now I am suspicious by nature, and even am suspicious about the above sites, but in the main I think they have good information with oversight by teams of knowlegeable doctors.]

    Here is what the Medline Plus web site says:

    "Are there safety concerns?
    Vitamin B12 is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth or when the prescription-only, injectable product is used correctly. In some people, vitamin B12 might cause diarrhea, blood clots, itching, serious allergic reactions, and other side effects.

    Vitamin B12 also appears to be safe when used on the skin for psoriasis. Mild itching has been reported in one person who used a specific avocado oil plus vitamin B12 cream for psoriasis.

    Special precautions & warnings:
    Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vitamin B12 is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken by mouth in the amounts recommended. The recommended amount for pregnant women is 2.6 mcg per day. Breast-feeding women should take no more than 2.8 mcg per day. Don’t take larger amounts. The safety of larger amounts is unknown.

    High numbers of red blood cells (polycythemia vera): The treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency can unmask the symptoms of polycythemia vera.

    Abnormal red blood cells (megaloblastic anemia): Megaloblastic anemia is sometimes corrected by treatment with vitamin B12. But this can have very serious side effects. Don’t attempt vitamin B12 therapy without close supervision by your healthcare provider.

    Leber’s disease, a hereditary eye disease: Do not take vitamin B12 if you have this disease. It can seriously harm the optic nerve, which might lead to blindness.

    Allergy or sensitivity to cobalt or cobalamin: Do not use vitamin B12 if you have this condition.

    Are there interactions with medications?
    Do not take this combination.

    Vitamin B12 is important for producing new blood cells. Chloramphenicol might decrease new blood cells. Taking chloramphenicol for a long time might decrease the effects of vitamin B12 on new blood cells. But most people only take chloramphenicol for a short time, so this interaction isn't a big problem.

    Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
    Folic acid
    Folic acid, particularly in large doses, can cover up vitamin B12 deficiency, and cause serious health effects. Be sure that your healthcare provider checks your vitamin B12 levels before you start taking folic acid.

    Potassium supplements can reduce absorption of vitamin B12 in some people and might contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency.

    Vitamin C
    Early research suggests that vitamin C supplements can destroy dietary vitamin B12. It isn't known whether this interaction is important, but to stay on the safe side, take vitamin C supplements at least 2 hours after meals.

    Are there interactions with foods?
    Heavy drinking for at least a two-week period can decrease vitamin B12 absorption from the gastrointestinal tract."

    The Mayo Clinic site adds the following concerns:

    "Use cautiously in patients with cardiovascular concerns. After coronary stenting, an intravenous loading dose of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 followed by oral administration daily has been shown to increase rates of restenosis (reoccurrence of narrowing of a blood vessel). Due to the potential for harm, this combination of vitamins should not be recommended for patients receiving coronary stents.

    Use cautiously in patients with elevated blood pressure, as high blood pressure following intravenous administration of hydrocobalamin has been reported.

    Use cautiously in patients taking the following agents, as they have been associated with reduced absorption or reduced serum levels of vitamin B12: ACE inhibitors, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), antibiotics, anticonvulsants, bile acid sequestrants, colchicine, H2 blockers, metformin, neomycin, nicotine, nitrous oxide, oral contraceptives, para-aminosalicylic acid, potassium chloride, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and zidovudine (AZT, Combivir®, Retrovir®). Additionally, vitamin C may cause the degradation of vitamin B12 in multivitamin supplements, and chloramphenicol may inhibit the biosynthesis of vitamin B12."

    After reading all the above, I wouldn't take both your multivitamin and the 5 Hour Energy Drink.

    But then again I wouldn't take the 5 Hour Energy drink anyway, because as is explaind in another currently running TT thread , the amount of caffeine in 5 Hour energy is enough to raise concerns that it could lead to enough of a hyper-exited state to actually lose focus - tennis demands steely nerves in tight situations. (It's not like being a blitzing linebacker).

    But it is a free country - it will be up to you to decide what to do.

    Still, I am interested in what YOU decide after reading this and several other responses here, and consulting with your doctor.
  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

    Sep 2, 2008
    On my iPhone
    I took orange triad for months and they are great vitamins. I just prefer the more basic multi and then adding extras myself.

    For example, I take 1000 mgs of magnesium at night and 1000 mgs of B12 before I go out for drinks and after I had drinks (if it was a wilder night).

    Triad is designed to be an all in one solution, but I found that to not fit my diet as well as how I do it now.
  4. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

    Jan 30, 2013
    Any excess amount of vitamins that the body can't absorb results in concentrated urine. Thats pretty much it.
  5. North

    North Professional

    Jun 21, 2005
    The fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, &K) don't simply concentrate in the urine. They are distributed to body tissues and you definitely can overdose on them.
  6. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

    Aug 8, 2009
    Yeah, you need to take care to watch your intake of the fat soluble vitamins. But even water soluble vitamins like B12, which are very easily flushed out of your system via urine should be watched as you are overworking your kidneys if they have to filter excess amounts of the stuff everyday over a long period of time.
  7. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

    Nov 24, 2004
    New Jersey
    B12 has a mythology attached to it because of doctors who give monthly b12 injections to patients. B12 injections started out because virtually all B12 deficiency in this country is not due to inadequate consumption but rather due to inadequate absorption from the small intestine, so deficiency can almost never be dealt with by eating more of it. (Deficiency from inadequate intake in the US is improbable, as nearly all flour, even what's used in commercial desserts, is "enriched"). Soon patients who weren't B12 deficient started asking for those injections, a pointless but generally harmless exercise, and incompetent doctors started touting B12 injections as a way for anyone to have more energy (particularly the doctor, as the injection is a procedure one can charge for). The Five Hour Energy people are picking up on this nonsensical tradition by putting it in the beverage.
  8. North

    North Professional

    Jun 21, 2005
    Yeah, there are still people who give those B12 shots. What is just as nuts is the recipients of the shots who will insist that within minutes-hours they feel significantly better/stronger. I used to try to explain but the self-deception of the placebo effect trumps physiology lol.
  9. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

    Oct 3, 2011
    What's so special about B12, as opposed to other B's etc?
  10. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

    Sep 22, 2012
    Thanks for the great info Fed. I think I will layoff the 5 hour energy before matches. Now that you mention it I do feel a little jittery at times during my matches. I chalked it up to nerves in tournament matches, but thinking back I play more calmly and focused in a.m. matches with "only" coffee level caffeine buzz. Scary huh? I must say I think I am addicted to the Orange Triad. It just makes my wholy body feel better, especially my joints. I really notice if I forget to take it, everything just gets more achy and less lubricated feeling! Scary too!
  11. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

    Sep 22, 2012
    PowerPlayer, what do you take now as your daily multi vitamin? Do you have a replacement for the joint compound?
  12. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Under stress, the body produces adrenaline.

    Adrenaline is called the "fight or flight" hormone.

    It instantly increases our alertness and gets the heart pumping faster.

    The problem is during the stress of a match when you add the body's production of adrenaline to having taken a lot of caffeine. A feeling of being "jittery" definitely can be produced.

    [I have to confess real doubts about the benefit of Orange Triad - but I don't want to get you over concerned about making too many changes in your regimen at once.]
  13. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

    Sep 22, 2012
    Bring it on. I noticed PowerPlayer quit the OT too. I am just trying to manage the aging body degradation gracefully and get every advantage possible! It sure seems like it does make me feel better, but I suppose is possible it's all in my head.
  14. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    I don't think that the Orange Triad is likely to cause any harm.

    The main questions is whether you could really tell the difference if you stopped, or whether there is a less costly alternative even if you could.

    Even though theoretically we should be able to get our needed vitamins and minerals from our diet, we don't always eat all the right things in all the right amounts.
    I think I eat reasonably well, but still take an inexpensive "generic" Walgreens multivitamin daily.

    As for the Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate, the National Institute of Health recently completed a large (1583 patients) prospective study in those suffering from degenerative joint disease (DJD) which is also known as osteoarthritis.
    It found some pain relief in those with moderate to severe pain, but not in those with mild pain.

    Pain relief all by itself is a worthy goal.

    But if you are not having significant pain, you should be aware that there is no evidence they actually influence the health/disease of the joints themseleves.

    From the American College of Orthopedic Surgeons:
    "The Hope and the Hype
    People who use these nutritional supplements hope that they will relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, and perhaps even repair or restore the joint cartilage. Recent evidence seems to support the first claim. Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been used in Europe for several years, with few reported side effects. Both supplements also have some anti-inflammatory effects that may account for the pain relief.

    But there is no proof that either substance, taken singly or in combination, will actually slow the degenerative process or restore cartilage in arthritic joints. All studies done to date have been short and focused on pain relief.
    Dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are not tested or analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration before they are sold to consumers. That means consumers can't be sure they're getting what they pay for when they purchase bottles labeled "Glucosamine/Chondroitin." In fact, a recent study by showed that almost half of the glucosamine/ chondroitin supplements tested did not contain the labeled amounts of ingredients."

    I'd have to leave it up to you if you wanted to consider going off the Orange Triad for a time and seeing if it made a difference.
    You could always go back on it - or some other preparation of Glucosamine/Chondroitin.

    I hope this helps and is not too confusing.
  15. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Feb 25, 2006
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Vitamin B-12 overdose is extremely rare (or non-existent). No upper limit (max daily dosage) has been set for vitamin B-12 due to its non-toxic nature. While some ppl have experienced some minor side effects with extremely high dosages, the amounts in Orange Triad and 5-hour Energy should probably not produce these for effects for most, if any, individuals. I believe that the only B vitamins that have upper limits that have been established are B-6 and Niacin (one form of B-3). These amounts in the these 2 products for those 2 nutrients should be quite a bit lower than those upper limits.

    This is actually just the opposite of my experience. I have felt the jitters during competition with coffee -- even with less than 1/2 cup. Coffee, for me, appears to produce some very positive results at first. However, after about 30 minutes, I develop a very pronounced case of the jitters. This has never happened with 5-Hour Energy or 6 Hour Power. Normally I need only 1/2 bottle (1 oz) of these products to produce desired results (improved focus, seemingly easy access to energy sources, etc). But even with a full serving (2 oz), I've not experienced any jitters.

    How much 5-Hour Energy have you used when you experienced jittery feelings? Have you ingested it after taking coffee somewhat earlier? Note that the amount of caffeine in a full bottle of the regular formulations of 5-Hour Energy is only about 75 mg. This is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in a mild/weak cup of coffee. (Note that there are also decaf and high-caffeine versions).

    Now it is very possible that your body/brain chemistry is significantly different than mine. To my knowledge, however, most individuals do not experience the jitters or a "crash" with 5-Hour Energy (or 6 Hour Power). Next time you might try ingesting only 1/2 bottle. And do so without drinking coffee beforehand.

    Note that some of the positive and negative effects of coffee may not necessarily be due to its caffeine content. Some of these effects are also felt with decaf coffee (very low caffeine levels). While I have experienced jitters with small amounts of coffee (less than 1/2 cup), I do not recall the jitters with caffeine tablets (even with amounts close to 100 mg).

    Note that, in addition to caffeine, coffee contains some MAO inhibitors as well as hundreds of other constituents. It could be one or more of the MAOIs or one of the other constituents in coffee that is responsible for the jitters that I have experienced.

    "Over a thousand chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee: more than half of those tested (19/28 ) are rodent carcinogens. There are more rodent carcinogens in a single cup of coffee than potentially carcinogenic pesticide residues in the average American diet in a year, and there are still a thousand chemicals left to test in roasted coffee. This does not mean that coffee is dangerous but rather that animal cancer tests and worst-case risk assessment, build in enormous safety factors and should not be considered true risks..."

    For further investigation of the health effects of coffee (as opposed to caffeine) check out the following link as a starting point. (Note: I am not asking you to accept a wiki site an authority on the subject).
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  16. Talker

    Talker Hall of Fame

    Oct 4, 2007
    The 17,000% comes out to about 1 mg from reading a bottle I have.
    The daily amount of 100% b12 is then 6 mcg.

    There are lozenges that are 5 mg or 83,333% of the daily value or 830 times as much.

    I tried the 1mg lozenges and nothing happened, at least I would have liked to get the placebo effect for my money. :)

    So many times popular ingredients will be put in to attract customers more than if it really works.

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