Last weekend my husband participated in a golf tournament. It was sponsored by Costco, and each player received a swag bag of Costco merchandise.
When he got home, my husband and I took a look at his “gifts.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
- OptiFiber Natural Fiber Supplement
- Body & Soul My Vision Health Eye Vitamins
- Natrol Fast Dissolve Melatonin
- Focus Factor Brain Health Supplement
- Testosterone Support For Men Supplement
- Slice of Life Energy Boost Gummy Vitamins With B12
- ZipFizz Healthy Energy Drink Mix With Vitamin B12
- Oh, and some golf balls and tees
The organizers of that tournament knew their demographic well—middle-aged men who are worried about aging.
Or, if they weren’t before, they are now. 🙂
As I read the labels on each product, one item really caught my attention: The amount of vitamin B12 in many of the products.
Vitamin B12 supplements have long been associated with increased energy levels because B12 deficiency, aka pernicious anemia, leads to a lower number of red blood cells, which in turn causes fatigue, weakness, and poor mental performance.
Thanks to fortified flour and grains, however, most of us don’t suffer from it.
But that apparently doesn’t stop manufacturers from wanting to stuff us full of more vitamin B12.
- Focus Factor “Nutrition for the Brain” boasts 333% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12.
Related post: Don’t buy supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s
- Testosterone Support For Men (well, it wouldn’t be for women, would it?) has 2000% of your daily vitamin B12 needs.
Related post: Be informed – Testosterone warning
- Two Energy Boost Gummy Vitamins have a whopping 8333% of the RDA for vitamin B12 (Do adults really need vitamins in gummy form?)
- But the ZippFizz Healthy Energy drink mix wins hands down—41,667% of RDA! Nice.
Related post: Healthy adults don’t need multivitamins
If my husband or any of the other participants in that golf tournament decided they needed some help with their energy levels and mental acuity and vision and male mojo, they could end up getting 52,333% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12.
Is that a good thing?
The good news is that because vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the body will only absorb so much during the day and you will pee the rest out. Overdoses are rare, which is probably why these manufacturers feel it’s safe to have such high amounts in their products.
But these products are not cheap, especially if you are taking more than one of them, and then you are literally flushing the vitamin B12 down the toilet.
The bad news, other than the cost, is that high blood levels of vitamin B12 can still lead to some health problems, so megadosing on supplements should be avoided.
Like most vitamins or minerals, too much can be as bad as too little. I’ve always advocated that we should aim to get as many of our nutrients as possible from our food, rather than relying on expensive supplements.
The Mayo Clinic website has a good overview of vitamin B12—what it’s actually useful for and which claims are overhyped.
Regarding safety, it says this:
Vitamin B12 is likely safe when taken according to the recommended dietary amounts (RDA) or less.
Um, I guess 50,000% of the RDA might be considered too much then?
The Mayo Clinic also lists many reasons why vitamin B12 supplements should be used cautiously because it might:
- lower potassium levels
- cause high blood pressure
- cause nausea, difficulty swallowing and diarrhea
- lead to gout
- cause a rash, itch or burning of the skin
- and more!
So remember that more is usually not better, and always read the labels!