Calcium, B complex vitamins, magnesium and zinc are all key vitamins and minerals integral to numerous bodily functions relating to metabolism, the nervous system and bone strength.
Occasionally, the body doesn't receive enough of these nutrients from diet alone, and supplements are required — but sometimes the nutrients can interact with one another in ways that may not be expected. It's important to learn about the potential side effects before you begin taking any supplements.
What Is Vitamin B Complex?
Vitamin B complex is the name given to the group of all water-soluble vitamins, excluding only vitamin C. They are:
- Thiamin (vitamin B-1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B-2)
- Niacin (vitamin B-3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5)
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6)
- Folic acid
- Cobalamin (vitamin B-12)
An article published by Michigan Medicine explains that, initially, vitamin B was thought of as one singular nutrient, but over time researchers discovered that there were branches of nutrients within this group that each served an individual purpose and had particular roles to themselves, so they were separated and named accordingly.
However, the vitamins are still all grouped together, leading many to incorrectly believe that they interact with each other in an especially beneficial way. This is not the case. Michigan Medicine advises that each nutrient has its own particular strength and unique function, and though more than one B vitamin is active in the body's role of metabolizing nutrients, each possesses its own individual benefits.
Michigan Medicine goes on to say that thiamin (B-10), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3) and biotin all play an integral role in energy production, but in different areas of metabolism and relating to different functions.
Potential B-Complex Interactions
There isn't any clinical evidence to suggest significant interactions can occur by combining vitamin B-complex supplements with other forms of supplementation. This is because of the nature of the nutrients that make up the B group.
UOM says that due to their water-soluble state, B vitamins pass through the body in the urine. They cannot be stored until they are needed in the same way fat-soluble vitamins can be. Vitamin B is also energy boosting, so it generally should be taken in the morning as opposed to at night to avoid any restlessness that could induce insomnia.
What Is Calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that plays an enormous role in the strength of your bones and teeth. The recommended daily dose of calcium is between 1,000 milligrams and 1,200 milligrams daily.
The Linus Pauling Institute describes how the human skeleton is a reserve of calcium, so your bones may be called upon when you're getting insufficient calcium from your diet. Because of this, bones can be weakened by a calcium deficiency as more and more calcium is required from the skeleton and is not being replaced. If not treated properly this can even lead to conditions such as osteoporosis.
Potential Calcium Interactions:
Zinc: The Linus Pauling Institute demonstrates that there has been clinical evidence to suggest significant impairment of zinc absorption when it's combined with calcium in animals, but it is unclear whether the same holds true for humans. Further studies must be completed before anything definitive regarding the pairing of zinc and calcium supplements can be concluded, but it is still important to be aware of this.
Magnesium: While there is no direct, significant interaction proven between calcium and magnesium, it has been shown that severe magnesium deficiency can impede homeostasis of calcium, which can lead to further conditions detrimental to the body such as bone fragility and weakness. You can consume the recommended amount through diet or, if necessary, supplementation.
Iron: US Pharmacist advises that these minerals compete for absorption in the body, so for optimal results take calcium and iron at separate times of the day.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an integral mineral for the body — among other roles, it aids the processing of hundreds of different enzymes, which are used to break down food. It aids with energy production, nucleic acid and protein synthesis, ion transport and cell signaling.
Inadequate dietary intake of magnesium or low serum concentrations have been found to positively correlate with the development of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and metabolic disorders.
Potential Magnesium Interactions:
Zinc: It has been demonstrated that high doses of supplementary zinc actually inhibit the absorption of magnesium and even act to destabilize the balance of magnesium in the body (the balance between magnesium gained and magnesium lost). Therefore, it is not advisable to take both magnesium and zinc in supplement form at the same time. Try taking them separately throughout the day if you need both.
Calcium: As stated, while there is no significant clinical interaction that occurs between calcium and magnesium, if you're severely deficient in magnesium it can affect your body's ability to absorb calcium as well, particularly in terms of blood levels, as informed by the Michigan Medicine.
What Is Zinc?
Its role in aiding growth means deficiency can cause stunted physical development in children and issues relating to pregnancy in adults. Zinc deficiency may also cause a weakened immune system and therefore an increased susceptibility to various infections and illnesses.
Potential Zinc Interactions:
Calcium: The University of Michigan informs that clinical studies on animals have shown severe inhibition of zinc vitamin absorption when high levels of calcium are also present, however, this has not been proven to be true in humans. There is conflicting clinical evidence on whether or not calcium negatively affects vitamin absorption of zinc in humans, but it is important to make note of it when considering supplementation options.
Vitamin B-9: Successful vitamin B-9 absorption is dependent upon an enzyme that, in turn, is zinc dependent. Therefore, if zinc levels are insufficient in the body, vitamin B-9 is directly affected. Though this isn't necessarily a direct interaction between the two, it's still important to consider because both vitamins support one another.
Further Vitamin Interactions
It is not just the interactions between vitamin B complex, calcium, zinc and magnesium that need to be considered when you're considering nutrient supplementation. There are other pairings to consider, particularly how vitamins and minerals react with iron.
Vitamin D and iron: Deficiency of these two nutrients is directly linked — those with a vitamin D deficiency were found to be three times as likely to suffer from an iron deficiency as those who had normal vitamin D levels.
Biotin and iron: A December 2016 study published in the Journal of Discovery Medicine found that a higher intake of iron actually maximized the benefits of supplementary biotin.
Before considering any drastic changes to your diet or supplementation routine, discuss the risks with your healthcare professional. In addition, some medications may react negatively with certain vitamins and minerals, so bear this in mind.
- US Pharmacist: "Drug Interactions With Vitamins and Minerals"
- University of Michigan: "Vitamin B Complex"
- Vitamin D Council: "Vitamin D Deficiency in Relation to Iron Deficiency: Is There a Link?"
- National Library of Medicine: "Intersections of Pathways Involving Biotin and IRON Relative to Therapeutic Mechanisms for Progressive Multiple Sclerosis"
- National Institute of Health: "Vitamin B-12"
- Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute: "Calcium"
- Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute: "Zinc"
- Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute: "Magnesium"