Vitamins are found naturally in foods, but supplements can shore up any deficiencies you may have. As with any pill, it's important to be aware of the proper dosage, side effects and potential interactions with other pills. You may experience problems if you take too much vitamin B6, whereas vitamin B12 has been found to have no negative side effects. It's always important to meet with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you're on medications, or if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
Side Effects of Vitamin B12 Supplements
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 supplements do not cause harm or negative side effects. If you're deficient in vitamin B12, taking a supplement may increase your energy and endurance, but not if you already have sufficient B12 levels. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, your body can store vitamin B12 in the liver for years and expels excess B12 through urine.
Side Effects of Vitamin B6 Supplements
Vitamin B6 from food doesn't cause side effects at any dose, but high intake from B6 supplements, which are made with the active ingredient pyridoxine, can have detrimental side effects. Specifically, taking between 1 and 6 grams of pyridoxine daily for 1 to 3 years has been found to cause trauma to the nervous system. Chronic side effects of high doses of vitamin B6 could lead to inability to coordinate movements, skin lesions, light sensitivity, nausea and heartburn.
Some medications inhibit vitamin B12 absorption, including Chloromycetin, Prilosec, Prevacid, Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac. There are many medications that interact with vitamin B6 supplements. Among these are Seromycin, any antiepileptic medications and any medications containing theophylline, used for respiratory problems. Some medications can lower your vitamin B6 levels, so it's important to discuss your B6 levels with your doctor if you're on any medication.
The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends adults consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. Pregnant women should be getting 2.6 micrograms daily, and breastfeeding moms should get 2.8 micrograms daily. In food, the most potent sources of B12 are beef liver and clams, but fish and other meat are also good sources. The recommended daily value of vitamin B6 is 1.3 milligrams for the average adult. The recommendation is 1.9 milligrams if you're pregnant and 2 milligrams if you're breastfeeding. Food sources of vitamin B6 include fish, beef liver, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.