This blog is dedicated to all our customers that ask… Do I need B vitamins?
B vitamins are imperative for many functions of our bodies. They help create metabolic coenzymes, which help enzymes facilitate critical reactions. Some B vitamins give us energy, while some help build new cells that deliver nutrients to others . I hope the following will help clarify any confusion:
B1 – Thiamine: plays a major role in energy production and helps synthesize critical neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine which is necessary for memory, mood and mental performance. Researchers investigated the effects of long-term supplementation with nine vitamins (Journal Psychopharmacology), including thiamine. After twelve (12) months, the researchers found that thiamine improved attention in female (not men) subjects.
Also, people who suffer from loss of appetite, weakness, fatigue, cramps, burning feet and confusion, may be deficient in B1. Beriberi (B1 deficiency) means “I can’t, I can’t”, in Sinhalese. Beriberi patients, even near death, suffering from severe fluid retention and completely incapacitated, can be on their feet and almost completely recovered within a couple hours after receiving a thiamine injection.
B2- Riboflavin: is responsible for producing ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the body’s basic energy currency. The body uses ATP anytime energy is needed. When deficient, our energy reserves become depleted making us lethargic. Also, it helps manufacture glutathione, imperative for every cell in our body (especially liver).
Signs of deficiency include cut on side of lips, migraine headaches and cataracts. Researchers from the University of Liege, in Belgium, found that B1 was more effective than the placebo at reducing the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. The researchers also observed that B1 and beta blockers acted through different mechanisms and might, therefore, have complementary functions.
B3-Niacin: plays a role in helping enzymes convert food into energy. These enzymes help produce hormones and metabolize fat and cholesterol. Niacin has been used to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). Researchers from the Coronary Drug Project found in their study that nicotinic acid significantly decreased total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke. This is the form that causes a flush.
Caution: consult with your physician before using the aforementioned form of Niacin. Also, if you use it start with a low dose – 50 to 100 milligrams with meals. Never use sustained-release niacin, which may be toxic to the liver.
Inositol hexanicinate form doesn’t cause flush, which can be used in higher doses (100 mgs. to 500 mgs.). I would still check with your MD.
B5-Pantothenic Acid: Greek for “everywhere”. Highest form is found naturally occuring in royal jelly. B5 plays a role in over a hundred (100) critical body processes, including energy production, manufacturing of steroids, helps metabolize amino acids properly, helps produce adrenal hormones, helps make neurotransmitters and hemoglobin. Along with the other B’s it helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels.
Food sources include liver, milk, fish, poultry, cruciferous veggies, sweet potatoes, oranges and strawberries (to name a few).
For general dose take up to 500 milligrams — less if you eat enough of the aforementioned foods. People with rheumatoid arthritis should take up to 2,000 milligrams (2 grams) daily. For lowering cholesterol and triglycerides take up to 300 milligrams 3X a day.
B6-Pyridoxine: is imperative for the formation of body proteins and structural compounds, chemical transmitters in the nervous system, red blood and prostaglandins. It’s critical in maintaining hormonal balance and proper immune function. Along with B12 and Folic Acid it helps lower homocysteine, a protein in the blood, when too high, is indicative of inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.
B6 deficiency has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, researchers at Tufts University in Boston have reported a positive association between B6 status and memory in older men. Also, deficiency may increase the risk of cancer in smokers and has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis, kidney stones and carpal tunnel syndrome. Designs for Health has included B6 in Arthrosoothe, which I myself use. More and more companies are including B vitamins in their products for both bone density and arthritis.
Studies also show B6 may help alleviate asthma symptoms.
B7-Biotin: is most popular for strengthening hair and nails, as well as promoting growth. It acts as a coenzyme that helps transport carbon dioxide between compounds. It plays a role in protein synthesis, the formation of long-chain fatty acids and the Krebs cycle, the basic biological process that releases energy from food. Recommended dosage is usually 1-5 mcgs. (1,000 – 5,000 milligrams).
The best sources of biotin are cheese, organ meats (no longer sold) and soybean. Good sources are cauliflower, eggs, mushrooms, nuts, peanuts (legumes), and whole wheat.
It is also beneficial to prevent scaly bumps and dandruff. It’s beneficial for treating Seborrheic Dermatitis (known as cradle cap in infants). Women who are breast feeding should make sure they continue their Prenatal by Country Life or New Chapter (to name a couple), to make sure they’re getting an ample supply of this B vitamin along with the other nutrients.
Biotin is also important for diabetics because it helps improve glucose metabolism.
B9-Folic Acid(Folate): is necessary for a variety of functions and body processes, from cellular maintenance to the prevention of birth defects in developing fetuses. Especially, in cases of Spina Bifida, which is a neural tube defect. Folic acid deficiency is also linked to depression, atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Along with methionine and B12 it helps with synthesis of SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine), which is a methyl donor, which help manufacture DNA and brain neurotransmitters.
5-methyl-tetra-hydrofolate (folinic acid) is the most active form of folic acid and is more efficient at raising body stores than folic acid. Designs for Health, Life Extension and Solgar carry this form (to mention a few).
Generally, the recommended dosage is 400 micrograms, ask your doctor if you could take a higher dose for problematic conditions as mentioned above.
B12-Cyanocobalamin: as we know by now B12 works synergistically with B6 and Folic Acid (aforementioned). It was isolated originally from liver extract in 1948 and identified as the nutritional factor in liver that prevented pernicious anemia, a deadly type of anemia characterized by large, immature red blood cells.
B12 is very beneficial in protecting the myelin sheath, therefore, may be helpful for those suffering from MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and nerve and muscular diseases. B12 deficiency includes many problems including memory loss, confusion, delusion, fatigue, loss of balance, depression, dementia, numbness and tingling the hands, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and decreased reflexes.
I prefer the methylcobalamin form, which Country Life, Designs for Health, Life Extension, Natural Factors & Solgar (among many other brands that we carry). The recommended dosage is usually 1000 micrograms – 5000 micrograms (1 milligram – 5 milligram) in this form. Usually found in a sublingual tablet or liquid.
As I learned in my Natural Health studies, it’s best to take a B-complex or a multivitamin/mineral supplement with full complement of B vitamins. B vitamins work synergistically.
C. Lombardo, CNHC