Do Statins Affect B-12?


Vitamin B-12 is one of eight B vitamins that together are known as the B-complex vitamins. It helps your body produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and organs. It is also needed for proper nerve function. There is some concern that some statin drugs may interact with certain B vitamins, in which case they should be taken at a separate time of day. You should consult your physician before taking B-12 or other supplements.


You get vitamin B-12 from animal protein in your diet. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)


High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Statin drugs are a class of drugs that help lower your cholesterol levels by blocking a liver enzyme your body needs to manufacture cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb excess cholesterol from your artery walls, according to Research suggests that simvastatin, or its brand-name counterpart Zocor, may interact with vitamin B-3 and increase the likelihood of serious side effects such as liver damage, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Statins are not known to interact with other B vitamins.


B-12 Benefit

Along with high cholesterol, a high homocysteine level has been identified as an independent risk factor for heart disease. Evidence suggests that elevated homocysteine is associated with deficiency in vitamin B-12 and folate.These two vitamins -- and to a lesser degree, vitamin B-6 -- help keep homocysteine levels in check by converting the amino acid into beneficial substances, such as cysteine, which acts as an antioxidant.


Even moderately elevated homocysteine levels increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a review published in the winter 2004 issue of "The Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association." Supplementing with B-6, B-12, folate and betaine has been shown to effectively lower homocysteine levels, especially in people with documented deficiencies of these nutrients, and can be expected to protect against cardiovascular disease, according to an article written by nutritionist Mark F. McCarty on behalf of the Linus Pauling Institute.


Managing your cholesterol levels is important for heart health. Excess cholesterol can accumulate in your arteries causing narrowing, which can lead to blockage. A healthy and well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is associated with lower cholesterol and decreased risk for heart attack and stroke. A low-fat diet also can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES Linus Pauling Institute: The Vascular Toxicity of Homocysteine and How to Control It Stanford Medicine: Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk University of Maryland Medical Center: Possible Interactions with: Vitamin B3 (Niacin)