Vitamin B12 and Iron
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment
Minerals and vitamins are important for the optimal functioning of your body. Vitamin B12 and iron belong to the category of vitamins and minerals respectively. Both of these micronutrients play a vital role in different physiologic processes and prevent you from many diseases.
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin. It is essential for the proper functioning of neurons and the formation of new red blood cells. Your body cannot synthesize vitamin B12 on its own and therefore require you to consume it through diet.
The food sources for vitamin B12 include animal products some of which are listed below:
- Milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products
In case you are a vegan then you can include vitamin B12 in your diet via breakfast cereals and plant-based meals fortified with vitamin B12.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF VITAMIN B12
Vitamin B12 has numerous roles to play. It ensures the formation of red blood cells, supports brain health, and prevents age-related changes in the eye.
Below is a detailed description of how vitamin B12 is beneficial for you in different ways.
FORMS HEALTHY RED BLOOD CELLS AND PREVENTS ANEMIA
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in the formation of healthy red blood cells. When vitamin B12 levels are low red blood cells become enlarged and oval in shape.
These newly formed red blood cells with irregular size and shape are not able to move from bone marrow to bloodstream at an appropriate rate. This can lead to megaloblastic anemia causing fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms.
Vitamin B12 supplements ensure that red blood cells are properly formed and thus prevent anemia.
REDUCES RISK OF MACULAR DEGENERATION
Macular degeneration is an age-related eye disease in which you gradually lose vision, particularly central vision.
Vitamin B12 supplements can reduce the homocysteine (a risk factor for macular degeneration) levels and reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
PREVENTS THE LOSS OF NEURONS
Low levels of vitamin B12 are often associated with a decline in cognitive functions and memory loss. Especially when you grow older the loss of neurons within the brain can lead to more pronounced symptoms.
However, vitamin B12 supplements can prevent the loss of neurons and preserve your cognitive functions and memory.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter capable of regulating your mood. Vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis and metabolism of serotonin. When vitamin B12 levels are low it can lead to decreased production of serotonin and hence can disturb your mood.
Vitamin B12 supplements ensure that serotonin is adequately synthesized and metabolized. As a result, it improves your mood and reduces the risk of depression-like symptoms.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg of vitamin B12 respectively.
Vitamin B12 is safe when consumed in appropriate doses but taking large amounts of longer duration can lead to:
- Tingling sensation in hands and feet
Vitamin B12 typically doesn’t have any adverse effects but the following are the few conditions in which you should consume it with great care:
- Post-surgical stent placement – After receiving a coronary stent you should not use vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6 in combination as it can increase the risk of blood vessel narrowing.
- Allergy or sensitivity to cobalt – In case you are allergic to cobalt or cobalamine then avoid taking vitamin B12 supplements.
INTERACTIONS OF VITAMIN B12 WITH MEDICINES
Aminosalicylic acid, metformin, and proton pump inhibitor can affect your body's ability to absorb vitamin B12. Hence, consult your doctor for the appropriate dosage when taking these drugs along with vitamin B12 supplements.
Vitamin C supplements can also reduce the availability of vitamin B12 within your body. To prevent this interaction, take vitamin C supplements at least 2 hours after the consumption of vitamin B12.
Iron is an important mineral that is primarily present in the red blood cells of your body. It helps your red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body.
The primary food sources for iron include:
- Red meat
- Fortified cereals
HEALTH BENEFITS OF IRON
The most important function of iron is to make hemoglobin and transport oxygen to different tissues of the body. Apart from that, it boosts energy, enhances athletic performance, and improves cognitive functions.
Following is a detailed explanation of the role that iron plays in different body functions.
PREVENTS IRON DEFICIENCY ANEMIA
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. It occurs when iron levels in your body drop to a level where hemoglobin production is affected.
Sustained iron deficiency can lead to heart diseases like enlarged heart, murmurs, arrhythmias, and heart failure.
Iron supplementation maintains the levels of iron within your body and ensures that hemoglobin production is running smoothly. This prevents iron deficiency anemia and its associated complications.
When iron levels are low and hemoglobin production is affected then the blood supply to muscles and brain is compromised. This can lead to decreased energy and stamina.
Iron supplements can correct iron deficiency and hence improve blood supply to the brain and muscles. Consequently, your focus is improved and you feel more energetic in your daily routine.
Decreased iron intake is associated with poor cognitive functions. Iron supplementation can improve your concentration and boost cognitive performance.
The amount of iron required by a person varies with respect to their gender and age.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for an adult man is 8mg daily while for an adult woman it increases to 18mg per day. Pregnant women require at least 27mg of iron on daily basis. The RDA for lactating women depends on their age and ranges between 9-10mg of iron per day.
Iron supplements are safe to use when consumed in an appropriate quantity however excessive usage for prolonged period of time can cause the following symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored stools
Iron supplementation is harmless unless you exceed the recommended limit and use it for extended periods. However, below mentioned are some circumstances in which you must stay cautious while taking iron supplements.
- Hemoglobinopathies – These are the disorders in which there is abnormal production of hemoglobin molecules. Taking iron supplements in such disorders can lead to iron overdose within your body.
Hence it is advised not to use iron supplements if you’re suffering from any hemoglobin disorder or use it after consulting with your physician.
- Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia – It is an inherited disorder in which abnormal connections develop between veins and arteries. If you take iron supplementation in this disorder it can increase the risk of nosebleeds.
Therefore use the iron supplements with great care if you’re a patient of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia.
- Premature infants – Giving iron supplements to premature infants with low levels of vitamin E can cause serious health problems. Hence, it is advised not to give iron supplementation to premature infants before treating low levels of vitamin E.
Always speak to your doctor before giving iron supplements to a premature infant.
INTERACTIONS OF IRON WITH THERAPEUTIC DRUGS
Iron has the ability to interact with different medicines and can interfere with their absorption and also has an impact on their effects and side effects.
Following are some common interactions of iron with different therapeutic drugs.
IRON AND ANTIBIOTICS
Iron supplements can decrease the absorption of antibiotics from the stomach. If you consume iron along with these medicines then you might not see the desired effects of these drugs.
To avoid this interaction between iron and antibiotics take iron supplements either two hours before or two hours after taking antibiotics.
IRON AND LEVOTHYROXINE
Levothyroxine is a drug used in the treatment of hypothyroidism. Iron supplementation can interfere with the absorption of levothyroxine from the stomach. Consequently, the therapeutic effect of the drug is decreased.
Hence, it is advised to ensure that there is a gap of at least two hours between the consumption of iron supplements and levothyroxine.
Vitamin B12 and iron are two such nutrients that your body cannot produce. However, your body needs them to perform day-to-day functions.
Vitamin B12 supports brain health, regulates mood, prevents megaloblastic anemia, and reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Iron fights fatigue, improves your athletic performance and cognitive functions, and most importantly prevents iron deficiency anemia.
Keeping the importance of these nutrients in mind you should try to consume an adequate amount of these two in your diet. If you find it difficult to eat foods that are rich in these two nutrients then you can opt for the supplemental forms of vitamin B12 and iron to meet your needs.
It is recommended to speak with your health care provider before starting iron or vitamin B12 supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health condition.Here you can check Vorst's vegan iron supplements 90 capsules and