Your body needs B vitamins to support healthy skin, eyes, hair, liver and to promote optimal nervous system functioning. B complex vitamins are the ultimate wingman to healthy eating, so your body can use all those magnificent nutrients you’re ingesting.
- Improve your energy use from fats and protein.
- Increase your body’s ability to turn carbs into fuel (glucose) for neural transmission and physical performance.
- Better vision and slow the effects of degenerative changes to nerve and brain function.
- Lower your risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease and assist physical and mental performance.
- Eat less and achieve weight loss by helping to control your appetite and suppress hunger.
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BENEFITS OF B VITAMINS
- Food To Fuel
- Real Energy
- Enhanced Brain Function
- Faster Nerve Transmission
- Fight Inflammation
- Fight Free Radicals
- Improved Circulation
- Impove Mood
- Increase Metabolism & Anti-Aging
- Elevate Oxygen Uptake
- Optimize Digestive Health
- Healthy Skin
- Control Appetite
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Vitamin B1 | Why Thiamine Increases Energy Production & Lowers Stress
Thiamine is Essential for the digestion of fats and proteins. Taken for energy, eye health, and for helping nerve and brain function. Considered one of the best stress reducing B vitamins due to its strengthening effect on the immune system and aiding the body’s ability to tolerate stressful conditions.
Thiamine is found in plants and animals and plays a critical role in ATP production. ATP is used by all of the cells in our body for energy. Low levels of B1 are associated with a higher risk of depression.
People suffering from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can help muscle coordination and confusion with high doses of B1. Since a lack of Thiamine can cause Dementia in people with WK, it has been speculated that Thiamine can help with Alzheimer’s disease prevention. Further research is still needed.
Wet beriberi, a certain type of heart failure associated with B1 deficiency displayed benefit from Thiamine supplementation. Whether it helps with other forms of heart failure is yet to be determined .
Those deficient in B1 may show signs of nausea, fatigue, headache, stomach pain, depression and irritability.
Vitamin B2 | Why Riboflavin Assists Folic Acid for Safe and Ready Use
(Riboflavin): Helps your body break down carbohydrates, protein and fats for food to fuel energy production. Riboflavin is a strong antioxidant and helps to fight cellular damage caused by free radicals. Combining green tea EGCG with vitamin B2 helps antioxidant potency as EGCG blocks carcinogens that might lead to cancer.
Riboflavin assists in absorbing other minerals and vitamins like Folic Acid (B9) thus further increasing the efficacy of those vitamins and minerals. The New York Times reports that being deficient in B2 (Riboflavin), B1 (Thiamine), B9 (Folic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine) present the most dangerous consequences.
It’s also used by our bodies to convert B6 and folate into readily usable forms. B2 aids normal vision and helps lower the frequency and duration of migraines (taken in high doses = 400mg) .
Symptoms of deficiency include: fatigue, light sensitivity, swollen tongue, difficulty seeing, slowed growth, cracks and sores at the corners of the mouth. The elderly and alcoholics are at risk for deficiency due to poor diet.
The NIH reports no adverse side effects from high doses of Riboflavin >400mg for 3 months have been observed. It's also not necessary to go beyond this amount especially if you find it to be effective in much smaller doses.
Vitamin B3 | Niacin, Beyond Benefits, Side Effects & Foods
(Nicotinic Acid): Niacin exhibits a wide range of use in your body by aiding your skin, digestive and nervous systems. B3 also helps promote circulation and fight inflammation.
Vitamin B3(Niacin) is a precursor to the coenzyme NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is required for ATP energy production; the source of cellular energy, healthy DNA, regulating metabolic processes, and control over circadian rhythm. Current research suggests that NAD+ and sirtuins are responsible for cellular communication, which means NAD+ and sirtuins are directly involved in key physiological processes. Sirtuins (silent information regulator) are proteins that express genes in our cells, deciding our body's response to stress and nutrition. NAD+ is required for sirtuins to function.
Scientists are now speculating that increasing sirtuin levels can actually extend your lifespan. NAD+ content in our cells decreases as we age and subsequently decreases sirtuin function, which is known to assist in the repair of DNA, and regulates gene expression associated with aging. SIRT1 coordinates important metabolic responses to nutritional availability in multiple tissues in mammals. In that past we discussed circadian rhythm with regulation of a sleep/wake cycle.
The general public typically knows that advancing sleep quality will help them lead a healthier life, but not necessarily understand the implications for aging. It is now known that there is a regulatory system for circadian rhythm mediated by NAD biosynthesis and SIRT1. A new connection has been discovered between physiological rhythmicity, metabolism, and aging . Essentially, your circadian rhythm oscillates based on nutrition and stress factors, and certain genes are turned on or off by input from NAD and sirtuins.
The exciting revelation here is that metabolism is connected to aging. There are additional mediators at work in this system, but for simplicity let’s focus on NAD’s role. Biosynthesis of NAD functions as a key driver that keeps up the pace of metabolism in multiple tissues/organs, and NAD dependent Sirt1 serves as a universal mediator that executes metabolic effects in a tissue dependent manner in response to changes in biosynthesis of NAD . The better our metabolic processes, the better our aging will be.
Calorie restriction is known to extend lifespan in a wide variety of organisms. Additionally, scientists have concluded that longevity induced by calorie restriction requires the activation of sirtuins by NAD . Therefore by supplementing with known nutrients that are precursors to NAD and sirtuins, you can skip meals to help lower caloric intake, while still receiving the benefits of optimal metabolic responses suspected in the aging process. The book, “Molecular Biology of Aging,” details this exciting relationship.
B3 is also your best friend after a late night out as alcoholism is the main cause of deficiency. If you suffer from canker sores, vomiting, indigestion, depression or poor circulation you could be deficient in B3.
Niacin helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels . Studies have shown decreased progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease when taking Niacin alongside colestipol and simvastatin. Fewer heart attacks and deaths were experienced as well. In addition, Niacin assists circulation by minimizing arterial inflammation and producing histamine to dilate blood vessels.
Besides lowering bad cholesterol, niacin contributes to raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels when taken in high doses. At risk populations with high LDL (bad) cholesterol levels show a greater reduction from supplementing with niacin.
B3 helps protect beta cells. Beta cells are responsible for insulin production inside the pancreas. Those with Type I diabetes struggle with a lack of insulin due to an attack on beta cells. So limiting the damage can alter insulin levels and promote glucose uptake to tissues. This ultimately helps to balance blood sugar levels. Since niacin has the potential side effect for elevating blood sugar levels, it is important to speak with your physician prior to beginning supplementation.
It's been reported that people with higher levels of Niacin in their diet are less likely to develop diseases associated with neurodegeneration like Alzheimer's, OA, cataracts, migraines, learning disorders, and memory loss.
Vitamin B5 | Why Pantothenic Acid is One of the World’s Healthiest Nootropics
Pantothenic Acid is often referred to as the “anti-stress” vitamin. It's involved in regulating hormones related to stress and sex secreted by the adrenal glands. Critical to the manufacture of RBCs. B5 helps our bodies use B2 (Riboflavin) and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Pantothenic acid has been described as among the most important B vitamins for the basic processes of life.
Psychological, physical and emotional stress triggers the release of cortisol (slowly metabolized) and adrenaline (quickly metabolized) from our adrenal glands. High amounts of these hormones are driven by chronic stress which continues to damage our body even after the stress signal has stopped.
B5 is able to down-regulate cortisol secretion. When you are deficient in B5, stress runs free and results in long term physiological changes like cellular damage, premature aging and declining cognitive function.
Studies show benefit for people with high cholesterol to lower their triglyceride levels by taking a B5 supplement. In some open studies, pantethine has aided cholesterol and triglyceride levels in diabetics. It’s also shown promise in raising HDL (good) and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol .
Vitamin B6 | Why Pyridoxine is a Nootropic That Also Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Pyridoxine is a main component for memory and concentration via multiple pathways in our body. As a prominent coenzyme involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions, vitamin b6 is heavily involved in protein metabolism in our brain.
It helps to metabolize carbs and lipids (fat). B6, b9(folic acid) and b12 all play a role in glutamate regulation in the brain, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is cytotoxic (harmful to cells) at high levels.
Pyridoxine is a cofactor in many enzymatic processes including synthesizing amino acids (protein) and neurotransmitters (brain communication). It’s involved in RBC formation, nervous system and immune system function and helps to maintain normal blood glucose levels .
So it helps to keep your blood sugar levels balanced in addition to playing vital roles for your internal communication pathways and ability to fight off infections and disease.
Several enzymes glutamine synthetase (GS), glutamate decarboxylase (GAD), aminotransferases (GOT, GPT) are involved in maintaining glutamate concentrations below excitatory levels and these b vitamins assist in activation of these important enzymes .
Aged brains show considerably lower activation of these enzymes, but b6 induced activation of 3 of the 4 enzymes: GAD, GOT, GPT. Vitamin b12 and folic acid partake in activation of GS, rounding out 4/4 enzymes involved in keeping glutamate below excitatory levels, thus reducing cytotoxicity in the brain.
This is important and a huge reason why vitamin b supplementation is recommended as an adjunct therapy for Alzheimer’s.
Pyridoxine also supports heart health by helping to lower blood pressure, significantly lowering systolic and diastolic pressures. Those with high blood pressure were given doses of pyridoxine at 5mg/kg body weight for 4 weeks with promising results .
B6 is included in Momental MEND, a nootropic blend formulated to protect and restore neurons and promote enzymatic processes in the brain. Mend is designed for deep, restorative sleep, but is also non-drowsy and can be taken during the day to decrease stress and anxiety.
Vitamin B7 | Biotin Benefits Beyond Thickened Hair and Beautiful Skin
(Biotin): Aka vitamin H. Biotin is commonly and safely used in hair and skin products , but is even more critical for embryonic development during pregnancy. Pregnant women should consume at least 30mcg of biotin daily.
Like the other b vitamins, it’s involved in metabolizing carbs, fat, and amino acids.
Biotin helps with peripheral neuropathy, which manifests typically as burning, itching, pain in distal extremities; arms, legs, hands and feet. Often a secondary effect of diabetes but occurs in the elderly as well.
Potentially curative for unexplained taste loss. In two cases of unexplained loss of taste, biotin in high doses of 10 and 20 mg per day lead to taste restoration .
300-900 mcg doses of biotin result in elevated biotin plasma levels, thus promoting greater availability for use within the body . This greater availability further promotes health benefits associated with elevated levels of vitamin B7.
Vitamin B9 | Why You Need Folic Acid Outside of Pregnancy
Folic Acid supports brain function and plays a critical role in mental and emotional health. Folic acid contributes to the production of our body’s genetic material; DNA and RNA. Making it extra important when our cells are growing rapidly during pregnancy, infancy, and puberty.
B9 and B12 work together closely to aid in RBC production and promote proper iron use in our bodies.
B9 in conjunction with B6 and B12 control blood levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke and thrombosis (blood clots) at elevated levels.
It is not currently known whether or not homocysteine causes heart disease or just indicates that someone has it. At a minimum, there is data showing an association between elevated homocysteine levels and loss of neurocognitive function and Alzheimer’s disease .
If you are concerned about cardiovascular disease or it runs in your family, don’t take any chances. Why wait to see if elevated homocysteine levels are the cause or the result knowing that B6, B9, and B12 help lower homocysteine levels? It helps to cover your bases with additional folic acid in your diet.
Depression has been associated with low levels of folic acid. With even lower levels correlating with those experiencing greater depression. Another study found that people with low levels of folic acid did not get better when they took antidepressants. Suggesting a positive correlation between increasing folate in your diet and positive effects for depression.
Folate has potential anti-cancer properties. People who get enough folate in their diets exhibit lower rates for the following cancers: breast, cervical, colon, pancreatic and stomach. It has been postulated that since folic acid helps maintain healthy DNA, it could also help hinder cancer mutations.
The reduction of cancer is yet to be proven. Still, having enough folate in our diets could help protect you and potentially lower your chance for disease. Alcoholism, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and celiac disease can cause folic acid deficiency.
Vitamin B12 | Are You Getting Enough B12 In Your Diet?
Cobalamin is taken for a plethora of health benefits and has been toted for its cognitive performance capability. Not only is it used to assist with memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients, but it's commonly used for mood, energy, mental clarity and helping the immune system.
15% of people are deficient in b12 and are more likely to be vegetarians, people over 50 and those with celiac disease.
As mentioned above, cobalamin assists in lowering homocysteine levels in the blood along with b9 and b6, which is thought to be linked to heart disease.
It aids post surgical arterial blockages, triglyceride and cholesterol levels and helps to combat the prevalence of diabetes and diabetic related symptoms like neuropathy. Given its beneficial use for a healthy heart it’s associated with a lower risk of stroke and can help with blood clots.
It’s also used by people suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis) to assist in neurological deficits associated with those diseases.
B12 is used for anti cancer properties and to help lower the risk of breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer. Elevated plasma b12 levels have an inverse relationship with risk for breast cancer .
PROFESSIONAL RECOMMENDATION & SIDE EFFECTS OF B VITAMINS
It’s important to take all B vitamins in combination when deciding to take any single B vitamin. This is because your body adjusts to specific use over time and lead to deficiencies in the other B vitamins. It is therefore important to stay balanced.
The average American is not deficient in B vitamins because they get most of them from fortified cereals and breads. The big problem is the other stuff you are getting with those cereals and breads. Highly processed, superheated crap that can cause a whole host of digestive issues, acne, lethargy, and difficulty with higher level cognitive tasks.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you consult with your physician prior to starting any supplementation.
Vitamin B1 | Thiamine
50-100 mg of Thiamine doses in supplementation is safe. Very high doses may result in stomachache. More interactions exist from prescription drugs interfering with Thiamine uptake. If you take any prescription medications be sure to check drug interactions prior to taking any supplement.
Vitamin B2 | Riboflavin
1-2mg recommended daily. Riboflavin is considered safe even at very high doses. Very high doses might cause numbness, itching, burning, light sensitivity or yellowish orange urine. Anticholinergic medications can interfere with the absorption of B2.
Tricyclic antidepressants might also lower B2 levels in the body. If you take any prescription medications be sure to check drug interactions prior to taking any supplement. It isn't always the supplement interfering with the drug.
Vitamin B3 | Niacin
10-20mg recommended daily. Too high of a dose >50mg can result in skin flushing, headache, dizziness, risk of liver damage, blurred vision and stomachache. Niacin can potentially change histamine levels making allergic reactions stronger.
Do not take if you have a history of Gout. If you have coronary artery disease or unstable angina consult with your physician prior to taking a Niacin supplement.
B3 interferes with tetracycline, so take at different times of the day. If you take any prescription medications be sure to check drug interactions prior to taking any supplement.
Vitamin B5 | Pantothenic Acid
5 mg is recommended daily for adults. Doses can be modified moderately for those with specific deficits and still be regarded as safe. Very high doses may increase chances for bleeding so take caution if using warfarin (Coumadin) and NSAIDs like aspirin.
Take B5 at a different time of day than tetracycline. Do not take if you are on any of the following drugs for Alzheimer’s: Donepezil, Galantamine, Memantine hydrochloride and Rivastigime. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take more than the daily recommendation.
Vitamin B6 | Pyridoxine
Take 20-30mg daily and combine with all B vitamins for an optimal everyday blend. 50 mg doses are effective for groups deemed deficient or requiring higher doses; the elderly, pregnant women, those with macular degeneration and RA.
Reports of assisting PMS symptoms with b6 supplementation have been increasing with some studies showing efficacy. The IOM (Institute of Medicine) deems 100 mg daily to be safe.
The richest sources of b6 include organ meat, beef liver and fish. Starchy vegetables contain a decent amount but this is why supplementing with vitamin b6 helps to keep starch intake to a minimum and can lower meat consumption overall.
Keep in mind more is not better. Levels exceeding 200mg may result in neurological disorders, poor sensation in the lower extremities and poor balance. Complete recovery is typically made within 6 months upon decreasing from the high dosage.
Check your prescription drug interactions prior to taking any supplement. Certain drugs will interfere with uptake and lower levels of b6; penicillamine for RA, hydralazine for high BP, isoniazid for TB, theophylline for asthma and others.
B6 does interfere with Levodopa, a common drug used for Parkinson’s disease. Be sure to sort your dosing with your physician.
Vitamin B7 | Biotin
Up to 40mg of biotin taken daily has been shown to be safe. Long term antibiotic use can kill biotin producing bacteria in the gut, altering the chemical makeup.
Those on antibiotics and antiseizure medications may want to consider altering their dose of biotin as these prescriptions drastically lower levels with long term use. Pregnant women are recommended to consume at least 30mcg of biotin daily.
Vitamin B9 | Folic Acid
Pregnant women need to consume approximately 400mcg of folic acid daily to ensure neural tube birth defects like cleft palate, spina bifida and brain damage don’t take place.
Not just for pregnant women. Folic acid is crucial to support brain function for mental and emotional health.
Vitamin B12 | Cobalamin
Not shown to have an upper limit, but doses of 1000mcg are excessive. Unless you are extremely deficient you’ll likely excrete the majority of really high doses.
Only animal meat contains natural sources of b12. Vegetarians and vegans must get their supply from fortified foods or supplementation. The latter is preferred as most of the fortified foods come at a price to your health. The majority of fortified foods contain excess amounts of added sugar, undergo inflammatory promoting processing and can actually lead to more long term metabolic health problems.
RECAP OF B VITAMINS
B complex vitamins participate in many biochemical reactions throughout our bodies. Used for cognitive performance, decreasing risk of various forms of cancer, heart disease, AMD (age related macular degeneration) and aiding symptoms of AMD, ALS, MS and more.
Primarily involved in metabolizing fat, carbs, and protein allowing for faster utilization by your brain to promote energy, focus and mental clarity. They additionally can help with symptoms of neuropathy.
Play a positive role in skin, eye, and digestive health. Antioxidant support to fight off damage from free radicals.
B vitamins help promote oxygen uptake thus decreasing overall tissue demand. This can improve both physical and mental performance. Have you ever sat working at your desk for awhile realizing you were breathing very shallowly. Then you take a few big breaths and all of a sudden you have more clarity. This is oxygen working at its finest. The equivalent for physical performance is breathing heavily so that tissues receive a more rapid oxygen exchange as Co2 builds up.
Eating a very well rounded diet in perfect quantities from multiple food groups can be enough, but so many people do not have the time to eat this way, or simply choose not to. People typically consuming 3-5 different meals with very low nutritional value weekly. Making a new robust meal takes time to learn, prepare and execute.
Taking the time to cook balanced meals is lacking in career focused individuals. They want to be healthy on the go, but just aren't quite translating the desire into action for the simple reason that it takes so much time. This is why supplementing is so beneficial.
Did you get enough b vitamins from what you ate today? Most people will have no idea. Supplementation gives you the added benefit of knowing. When combined with an active lifestyle and eating whole foods, the combination can do wonders for your health and psyche.
Fortified foods are not the best answer for solving vitamin and mineral deficiency. Added nutrients to crappy foods is like adding a leaf of lettuce to a Mcdonald's hamburger, you really haven't changed anything. "Look we added calcium and b vitamins, just please don’t pay attention to the rest of the ingredients or how we made it." Supplementing in this regard offers a cleaner solution.
Breakfast cereal claims of lowering cholesterol are only doing so because of what you aren’t eating. Not eating bacon or sausage every morning and opting for cereal will likely help lower cholesterol levels. This doesn’t mean the cereal itself is good for you. A small added benefit with an alternately large detriment is a net negative for your health.
Various food processing techniques can destroy the quality and availability of b complex vitamins among other nutrients. It is important to always consume the purest form of any ingredient. For instance eggs contain biotin while raw egg whites inhibit the uptake of biotin when ingested. Small variations in how a food is consumed can have varying implications for nutrient levels and overall health.
To say something is healthy on the surface ignores key biochemical reactions that take place. Food processing often alters how these biochemical reactions take place in the body and often destroy molecular compounds that typically have benefit.
This is why eating an egg mcmuffin (if it even consists of eggs anymore) is bad for you, and eating whole naturally raised eggs is not, unless high cholesterol is a problem for you.
ANECDOTE ON B12
B12 is also used to help with symptoms of Lyme disease. Lyme disease has become a prominent topic in the last 5 years, much more so than even a decade ago. Many people were ignored in the beginning, being told that their neurological complaints were in their heads.
Imagine your hands and feet are going numb randomly, you get frequent headaches and a general feeling of malaise, only to not be taken seriously.
Fortunately and unfortunately Lyme has slowly made its way into mainstream knowledge as more people have been afflicted, but still goes undiagnosed in too many cases in which the damage can last years and is often irreversible.
If caught right away, antibiotics can typically lead to a rapid and complete recovery for Lyme disease.
This is a topic that is personal to me, given my mother in law has suffered from the negative effects of Lyme disease for years now. Symptoms will travel from one body part to the next, headaches are abundant, and an ill feeling presents that she finds hard to explain.
All because she was misdiagnosed with TOS (thoracic outlet syndrome) in the beginning and therefore did not receive the antibiotics that would have stopped all of these maladies.
TOS results in neurological deficit symptoms usually in one arm and is a result of an internal structure impinging on the brachial plexus (nerve branches) causing altered sensation, motor weakness or both.
In the medical community especially in orthopedics, TOS almost never involves both upper extremities. In the very least it does not affect the left arm one day and then drift over to the right arm the next. My mother in law complained about symptoms in both arms, and that is the point.
This is a side bar for me to encourage you to always get 2-3 opinions on any major health issue right away, even if you really trust your physician. How could your physician not know? You would truly be surprised what medical professionals do and do not know.
In the case of my mother in law, a good physical therapist would have known right away that her symptoms were not the manifest of TOS. Of course some medical professionals are amazing and their knowledge transcends their arena, but far too often patients fall victim to the specialty of that given physician.
It would be wonderful if very few people fell through the cracks, but far too often physicians are not going to admit their inadequacies in certain areas of medicine, and this arrogance is a huge problem in healthcare.
My mother in law has been using b complex vitamins for years and specifically b12 to help with her Lyme symptoms. She swears by it in helping with the abnormal sensations in her distal extremities (hands and feet).
Where can I buy B complex vitamins for improving healthy metabolic and cellular function?
You can find B vitamins in the supplement aisle of your local health food store or you can purchase through online retailers like Amazon.
Mind is full of B vitamins and formulated with herbal nutrients for increased mental energy, faster cognitive processing, sustained focus, improved memory and metabolism. Enhance your brain and your body with Mind.
Mind is an herbal nootropic blend with added all natural collagen protein, healthy fats from MCT, and a high dose of organic greens for the best daily nutrition. Mind optimizes mitochondrial health, our cell's energy regulators, which are the underlying components that drive metabolism, neural, hormonal, and chemical balance to achieve homeostasis.