Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Can Those B’s Do For Me?

A question that I am commonly asked is what are B vitamins good for, and are they good for me?  The answer is yes they are good for you and they are needed for many processes in the body.  Almost all cellular functions require B vitamins, making this group of vitamins essential.  B vitamins are water soluble which means that your body does not store extra B vitamins, you will pee out the excess.  As your body does not store them, it is beneficial to take your B’s everyday.  Adding a B complex supplement to your daily regimen can be a beneficial.  

Each B vitamin has unique roles in the human body.  That being said, as a group they are all vital in daily cell processes including energy metabolism, nerve function, growth and development.  We do get B vitamins from food sources but the issue here is often not eating enough of a variation on a daily basis to get the needed vitamins.  Processed foods, high levels of pesticides and fertilizers, high sugar foods, and fast foods are all depleted of nutrients and vitamins.

The following table provides a general guide to the individual roles of the B vitamins as well as the deficiency states.  The table is a general guide and not comprehensive. 

B Vitamin
Deficiency State
Functions in the body
B1 – Thiamin
Deficiency leads to beriberi.  Symptoms include weight loss, weakness, edema, emotional disturbances, and heart issues.  Chronic alcoholism depletes this vitamin.
- Cell division and DNA/RNA production, nerve function, Energy generation from carbohydrates
- The brain uses B1 to get energy out of sugar
B2 - Riboflavin
Deficiency can cause cracks in the lips (cheilosis), inflammation of the tongue, and sensitivity to sunlight
- Breakdown of fatty acids, energy production, cellular metabolism
B3 – Niacin
Deficiency can cause pellagra, insomnia, weakness, mental confusion and the three D’s: diarrhea, dementia, and dermatitis.
- Important role in almost all cellular functions including energy, fat, glucose, and alcohol metabolism.  High dose Niacin therapy is also used to lower triglycerides and LDL while increasing HDL, improving cholesterol ratios
B5 – Pantothenic Acid
Deficiency associated with paresthesia’s, fatigue, depression, and acne
- Energy production, metabolism of fatty acids, and carbohydrates, synthesis of amino acid, steroid hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies. 
B6 – Pyridoxine
Deficiency is linked to microcytic anemia, depression, water retention, and hypertension
- Low levels have been associated with increased PMS symptoms
- Amino acids like (serotonin. melatonin, and dopamine) and fat metabolism and gluconeogenesis.
B7 – Biotin
Deficiency in infants can cause impaired growth and neurological disorders. 
- Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. 
B9- Folic Acid
Deficiency can cause macrocytic anemia, elevated homocysteine.  In pregnant women deficiencies can cause birth defects.
- Cell division, and DNA production, and red blood cell production
B12 - Cobalamins
Deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy, macrocytic anemia, elevated homocysteine, memory loss, cognitive deficits.   
- Cellular metabolism or fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as blood cell and nerve sheath production. 

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