Older women who take supplements with high doses of vitamins B6 and B12 may be more likely than their peers who don’t to experience hip fractures, a U.S. study suggests.
Under current U.S. dietary guidelines, women over age 50 should get 1.5 milligrams (mg) a day of B6, and girls and women aged 14 and up should get 2.4 daily micrograms (mcg) of B12.
For the current study, researchers followed almost 76,000 female nurses in the U.S. for an average of 21 years, doing extensive dietary surveys every four years. Almost all of the women in the study had total intake of B6 and B12 from foods and supplements that was higher than recommended.
About 2,300 women had hip fractures during the study, and half of them had these fractures before they were 76 years old.
Compared to women who had the lowest intake of both vitamins, women who had the highest daily intake (at least 35 mg of B6 and 20 mcg of B12) were 47 percent more likely to have hip fractures during the study.
These results add to other reports suggesting that high-dose vitamin supplementation can lead to unexpected adverse effects. Normal intakes of these vitamins, corresponding to recommended dietary allowances, were not associated with increased fracture risk.
What vitamins B6 and B12 do
Vitamin B6 helps maintain a healthy metabolism and immune system and plays a role in cognitive development. It’s found in a wide variety of foods. The richest sources include chickpeas, tuna, salmon, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables and fruit (other than citrus).
Vitamin B12 is used to maintain healthy nerves and help the body make red blood cells; it’s naturally found in animal foods such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how high intake of B6 or B12 might contribute to risk for hip fractures.
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