A Wonderful Way to B
When I think about explaining the benefits of B Vitamins, it is hard to know where to begin. B Vitamins are necessary for multiple processes in your body. B Vitamins are especially essential for cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, and gynecological and reproductive health. Most B vitamins work as coenzymes which allow enzymes to do their job and without these coenzymes specific natural processes would struggle (to put it simply). Below you will find a summary of each B vitamin outlining its importance. By the end of this summary, I hope that you will realize just how crucial B vitamins are for your health!
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine is incredibly vital for neurological health. Trends in studies have shown that adults with lower levels of thiamine had more depressive symptoms (Zhang et al., 2013). It has also been demonstrated that thiamine supplementation can help improve memory and cognition (Mkrtchyan, et al. 2015). Thiamine can improve neurological health which has led researchers to investigate its effect on conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. Animal studies have shown promising results which will hopefully lead to more clinical trials being conducted. Finally, thiamine can be helpful for skin conditions and injuries such as burns. Foods that are rich in thiamine are beans, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, yogurt, oranges, lentils, and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin, like most other B vitamins, has a host of various benefits. Most importantly it is a major component to two coenzymes responsible for energy production and metabolism, cellular function, and growth. Riboflavin may also play an important role in thyroid health and other endocrine functions. Also, Riboflavin has been shown to help with migraine headaches in both adult and pediatric patients (Namazi, et al. 2015). Foods rich in Riboflavin include organ meats, eggs, and milk. Because these foods are often avoided on a vegan/vegetarian diets, these individuals may be especially prone to Riboflavin deficiency.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin is one of the more popular and well-known B vitamins—and for a good reason! Niacin, like other B vitamins, affects coenzymes and metabolism. Niacin is cardio-protective because it can help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise the good cholesterol (HDL) (Song, et al. 2013). Niacin may also help with mental health conditions such as depression (Lim, et al. 2016). It was also found that anti-depressants may deplete Niacin in patients that have an inadequate dietary intake (Viljoen, et al. 2015). It is important to note that sometimes taking Niacin can have a “flushing” like effect which may be uncomfortable for some patients. A severe deficiency in Niacin can lead to a rare but serious condition known as Pellagra which is characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia. Foods high in Niacin include poultry, tuna, mushrooms, beef, peanuts, and liver.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic Acid makes it possible for our bodies to efficiently use the macronutrients we ingest such as carbohydrates, protein, and lipids. It has been shown to be important for healthy skin and can help with acne, insect bites, and rashes. Older research studies indicate that it may also be helpful for arthritis, nerve pain, PMS, and gut health. Foods high in B5 include salmon, avocados, broccoli, mushrooms, and organ meats.
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)
B6 is a personal favorite because it is key in Women’s health. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is one of the most common syndromes for women and can have physical and psychological effects that can significantly impact activities of daily living. Vitamin B6 has been heavily researched for reducing symptoms related to PMS. It has been shown that B6 along with Calcium can be beneficial for women who suffer from PMS (Masoumi et al., 2016). Another study showed that B6 along with Magnesium may also be helpful in improving PMS (Fathizadeh, et al. 2010). B6 has also been shown to be effective in reducing pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting (Firouzbakht, et al. 2014). Foods rich in B6 include poultry, whole grains such as oatmeal or brown rice, fish, and eggs.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin is needed to help the body break down fat. Biotin is in many foods but unfortunately often in low levels. Biotin is a popular supplement for hair and skin health. Biotin is generally safe and does not build up in the system like other popular supplements for hair and nail health do such as Vitamins A and E or Zinc. A study published in 2016 looked at women complaining of hair loss and assessed their Biotin levels. The study found that 38% of the women had values consistent with biotic deficiency (Trueb, 2016). The author of the study states that there may be many causes of hair loss so the exact cause should be determined; however, biotin is safe, and those that had Biotin deficiency saw improvement in their hair loss and Seborrheic-like dermatitis when taking Biotin (Trueb, 2016).
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
There is so much to be said about Vitamin B12. In my opinion, B12 is tied with Folate as the most important B vitamin. Low Vitamin B12 levels are common for two reasons: 1) an individual may not be consuming enough through their diet and/or 2) an individual is consuming enough or supplementing but lack the Intrinsic Factor (IF) in the GI tract making absorption of B12 impossible (this is why some individuals make need Vitamin B12 shots). Vitamin B12 deficiencies can have serious health consequences and presents with varying symptoms. Vitamin B12 is necessary for red blood cell production, nervous system health, as well as energy, metabolism, and mood. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to numbness and tingling in the hands and feet and in severe cases even muscle weakness. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause a certain type of anemia known as macrocytic anemia or pernicious anemia, this can also have severe health consequences. Certain diets or medications can also lead to a decrease in Vitamin B12. Because Vitamin B12 is so necessary and deficiency is so common, it is a good idea to talk to your Primary Care Physician about getting your Vitamin B12 levels checked. Foods rich in Vitamin B12 include meat, fish, eggs, milk, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Folate is similar to B12 as it is necessary for nervous system health and development as well as red blood cell health. Folate deficiency can also cause macrocytic anemia; this is important to note that iron will NOT help with this type of anemia and the proper tests need to be done to diagnose it. Folate is vital for pregnancy because it is required for nervous system development. The first month of pregnancy is when critical features of the nervous system are developing, because many women don’t know they are pregnant in the first month, it is recommended that all women of childbearing age be on Folic Acid to reduce the incidence of abnormalities such as Spina Bifida. Recently there has been much discussion about the MTHFR Gene Mutation and Folate. For Folate to be utilized by the body, there needs to be a methyl group added to it, and this is done by the MTHFR enzyme. It has been noted that some have an MTHFR gene mutation and are unable to methylate the B vitamins. Having an MTHFR gene mutation can lead to lots of health issues and may be a contributing factor to recurrent miscarriages (Serapinas, et al. 2017), although more studies need to be conducted to confirm this. The only way to know if you have an MTHFR gene mutation is to have genetic testing done which can be quite costly. So what to do? I recommend that my patients take a methylated Folate just in case. You may be wondering what the difference between Folic Acid and Folate is so I’ll mention it here: Folic Acid is the synthetic form of Folate. Folate is what occurs naturally in nature and often the preferred choice of supplement. For foods rich in Folic Acid/Folate think FOLI-AGE: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, asparagus, leafy greens.
A Final Note
I hope that this summary has provided an evidence-based look at how essential B vitamins are. A high-quality B Vitamin Complex like Gyclogenics can be a great way to improve overall health. Quality matters when it comes to any supplement but especially vitamins because there is a difference between synthetic and natural vitamins. B Vitamins are water soluble, so they are regarded as generally safe since any extra B Vitamins will be excreted from the body; however, it is always best practice to check with your healthcare provider when adding a new supplement to your routine. All supplements should be taken under the guidance and direction of a healthcare provider. It is also never recommended to take yourself off of any medications without the instruction of your medical provider. Glycogenics is our supplement of the month and now 10% off, so ask your chiropractor about taking Glycogenics. Being on a Glycogenics is a wonderful way to B.
B image from Google Images and labeled as “free to use, share, or modify even commercially.”
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Image of Glycogenics from Metagenics website and used with permission by Greg Peterson.
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NHS Choices. B Vitamins and folic acid. Accessed on 04/12/2018
Office of Dietary Supplements – Riboflavin
Accessed on 04/12/2018 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-HealthProfessional/
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning
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The Foods that Protect the Eyes, Brain Heart & More
Jillian Babcock – Accessed on 04/12/2018 https://draxe.com/thiamine-foods/
Top 10 Vitamin B3 Niacin Foods
Josh Axe –Accessed on 04/12/2018 https://draxe.com/top-10-vitamin-b3-niacin-foods/
Top 10 Vitamin B5 Foods (Pantothenic Acid)
Josh Axe –Accessed on 04/12/2018 https://draxe.com/top-10-vitamin-b5-foods-pantothenic-acid/
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Viljoen, Margaretha et al. Antidepressants may lead to a decrease in niacin and NAD in patients with poor dietary intake. Medical Hypotheses, Volume 84, Issue 3 , 178 – 182
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