You Should Never Take Vitamin B12 With This Heartburn Medication

If you're the kind of person who reads your food labels from start to finish, you might have noticed that a lot of your foods are fortified. A 2021 entry in the journal Nutrients explains that these foods exist to cover gaps in micronutrient intake. Fortifying foods to cover these gaps benefits not only the nutritional value of the food but the health of the people eating them and the societies in which they live.

Enriched foods can contain any combination of several nutrients, including vitamin B12. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that vitamin B12 is integral to the formation of both DNA and red blood cells. It's usually found in animal products and byproducts. And, since many people don't consume food in either category, it is a regular in the list of nutrients added to other foods.

Some sources claim that vitamin B12 has even more benefits, but the Mayo Clinic sets the record straight. Previously, vitamin B12 combined with folic acid and vitamin B6 had been considered helpful against cardiovascular disease; however, the Clinic states that this group of vitamins has not been shown to decrease the risk or severity of these conditions. Also, while dementia has been linked to vitamin B12 deficiency, there is no proof that supplementation can help treat or prevent it.  Finally, unless you have a deficiency of this important vitamin, there is no reason to believe that it will boost your athletic performance.

There is evidence, however, that certain medications can affect how the body absorbs vitamin B12. And unless it's caught early, this change can have far-reaching effects.

These types of heartburn medication reduce B12 absorption

If you've never experienced heartburn, you're incredibly lucky. Almost everyone will experience it at some point in their lives, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Of that very wide pool of people, 20% will deal with a more intense form of acid reflux known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as GERD).

Heartburn is a painful sensation behind the breastbone that occurs when stomach acid travels back up into the esophagus. Heartburn is a symptom of GERD, but there is more to it than that. GERD is defined as frequent symptoms (two or more times a week). In addition, the ACG says that, without treatment, contact between stomach acid and the esophagus can lead to several symptoms and conditions. These range from generally uncomfortable to severe, including pre-cancerous changes to the cells of the esophagus.

The best way to avoid these effects is lifestyle changes and drugs known as H2-receptor blockers (cimetidine, famotidine, and ranitidine) and proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole, esomeprazole, and lansoprazole), which the Mayo Clinic states reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

This reduction lessens the effects of conditions like GERD but it can also reduce the body's ability to break down food and absorb nutrients like vitamin B12. This was recognized as early as 1992 and still affects patients today. So if you're dealing with heartburn, make sure you discuss any B12 concerns with your doctor when they bring up treatment.