B Vitamins Explained

B Vitamins – introduction

I’ve recommended B Vitamins for years but this article spells out in detail what the functions of B Vitamins are – well worth a look.

Vitamin BWhen people refer to B Vitamins they are essentially referring to water-soluble vitamins (excluding Vitamin C). These include:

  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • niacin (vitamin B3)
  • pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)
  • pyridoxoine (vitamin B6)
  • biotin, folic acid and cobalmins (vitamin B12)

At one time it was thought that there was a single Vitamin B but researchers later found that there are many that work independently.  The importance of adequate B Vitamins in the diet cannot be over-emphasised. As water soluble vitamins cannot be stored by the body and any excesses are simply flushed away.

vitamin A vitamin b vitamin c vitamin d vitamin e

Use this simple image of vitamin rich food sources

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) contributes to

  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • normal functioning of the nervous system
  • normal psychological functions
  • normal heart functions

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) contributes to:

  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • normal functioning of the nervous system
  • maintenance of normal mucous membranes
  • normal red blood cells
  • normal skin and vision
  • normal metabolism of iron
  • protection of cells from oxidative stress
  • reduction of tiredness and fatigue

What is Pantothenic acid – Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is essential to all forms of life. Pantothenic acid is found throughout living cells in the form of coenzyme A (CoA), a vital coenzyme in numerous chemical reactions.

Pantothenic acid is a component of coenzyme A (CoA), an essential coenzyme in a variety of reactions that sustain life. CoA is required for chemical reactions that generate energy from food (fat, carbohydrates, and proteins). The synthesis of essential fats, cholesterol, and steroid hormones requires CoA, as does the synthesis of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and the hormone, melatonin. Heme, a component of hemoglobin, requires a CoA-containing compound for its synthesis. Metabolism of a number of drugs and toxins by the liver requires CoA

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) contributes to:

  • normal synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, some neurotransmitters, and vitamin D
  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • normal mental performance
  • reduction of tiredness and fatigue

Vitamin B6 contributes to

  • normal cysteine synthesis
  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • normal functioning of the nervous system
  • normal homo-cysteine metabolism
  • normal protein and glycogen metabolism
  • normal psychological function
  • normal red blood cell formation
  • normal function of the immune system
  • reduction of tiredness and fatigue
  • regulation of the hormonal system

Vitamin B6 – Research

Scientists are studying vitamin B6 to understand how it affects health. Here are some examples of what this research has shown.

Heart disease
Some scientists had thought that certain B vitamins (such as folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6) might reduce heart disease risk by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. Although vitamin B supplements do lower blood homocysteine, research shows that they do not actually reduce the risk or severity of heart disease or stroke.

Cancer
People with low levels of vitamin B6 in the blood might have a higher risk of certain kinds of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. But studies to date haven’t shown that vitamin B6 supplements can help prevent cancer or lower the chances of dying from this disease.

Cognitive Function
Some research indicates that elderly people who have higher blood levels of vitamin B6 have better memory. However, taking vitamin B6 supplements (alone or combined with vitamin B12 and/or folic acid) does not seem to improve cognitive function or mood in healthy people or in people with dementia.

Premenstrual Syndrome
Scientists aren’t yet certain about the potential benefits of taking vitamin B6 for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But some studies show that vitamin B6 supplements could reduce PMS symptoms, including moodiness, irritability, forgetfulness, bloating, and anxiety.

Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy
At least half of all women experience nausea, vomiting, or both in the first few months of pregnancy. Based on the results of several studies, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends taking vitamin B6 supplements under a doctor’s care for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

What is Biotin

Biotin is a B vitamin that is sometimes referred to as vitamin H or vitamin B7. It is one of the eight vitamins in the vitamin B-complex. The B vitamins, in general, help in promoting healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver and a healthy mouth.

Most diets contain foods that supply more than enough biotin to keep a person healthy. Biotin is naturally present in many foods, such as meats, saltwater fish, cooked egg yolks, milk, poultry, legumes, whole grains and brewer’s yeast. Sometimes, biotin content in food is reduced when foods are cooked or frozen. The best way to prepare a biotin-rich food, in order to retain its biotin content, is through steaming.

Biotin contributes to:

  • normal energy-yielding metabolism
  • normal functioning of the nervous system
  • normal macro-nutrient metabolism
  • maintenance of normal hair, mucous membranes and normal skin

Vitamin B12 contributes to:

  • normal functioning of the nervous system
  • normal homo-cysteine metabolism
  • normal psychological function
  • normal red blood cell production
  • normal immune system function
  • reduction of tiredness and fatigue
  • process of cell division

Taking Vitamin B may Reduce Incidence of Stroke

vitamin b strokes sugars4life.comNew evidence suggests that taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke. The research appears in the September 18, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. [1]
Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack,” said author Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China.
For the research, scientists analysed 14 randomised clinical trials with a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies compared B vitamin use with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin. Participants were then followed for a minimum of six months. There were 2,471 strokes throughout the studies, all of which showed some benefit of taking vitamin B.
Vitamin B lowered the risk of stroke in the studies overall by seven percent. However, taking supplements did not appear to affect the severity of strokes or risk of death from stroke.
Folic acid, a supplemental form of folate (vitamin B9), which is often found in fortified cereals, appeared to reduce the effect of vitamin B. Researchers did not find a reduction in stroke risk for vitamin B12.
“Based on our results, the ability of vitamin B to reduce stroke risk may be influenced by a number of other factors such as the body’s absorption rate, the amount of folic acid or vitamin B12 concentration in the blood, and whether a person has kidney disease or high blood pressure,” said Yuming.
Conclusions: B vitamin supplementation for homocysteine reduction significantly reduced stroke events, especially in subjects with certain characteristics who received appropriate intervention measures.

To learn more about stroke, please visit http://www.aan.com/patients.
Reference
[1] Ji Y, Tan S, Xu Y, Chandra A, Shi C, Song B, Qin J, Gao Y. Vitamin B supplementation, homocysteine levels, and the risk of cerebrovascular disease: A meta-analysis. Neurology. 2013 Sep 18 View Abstract