August 31, 2020
The Importance of B Vitamins
Although widely recognized, arguably the most important water-soluble vitamins are often underappreciated. What is known as the B vitamins are made up of several vitamins that I will talk just a little bit about, although there is a lot to be said about these super valuable and important vitamins. You have B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin). There are others, but just for the sake of this blog post, we’ll just focus on these.
Vitamin B1 Thiamin
The first of the B vitamins to be recognized and chemically identified by the American Medical Association. A few good sources of B1 include the germ and bran of wheat, many vegetables, nuts, pecans, fruits such as avocado, and even pork. If there is a deficiency of this vitamin, what develops is a disease called beriberi. Supplementation of B1 reverses this condition, as well as helps with depression, hydrochloric acid production, low morale, multiple sclerosis, Bell’s palsy, fatigue, and other mental and nerve diseases. It can even act as a mosquito repellent in dosages of 50 to 100 mg per day! The RDA has been set in 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences as 1.2 mg for males ages 14+, and 1.5 mg for lactating females of any age.
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
Riboflavin actually gets its name from the fact that it is a yellow crystal, yellow in Latin is flavus. It is more stable than B1 to things like heat and acid but is sensitive to light especially UV light. For those of us who supplement with nutrients, especially the B vitamins will notice a yellow-green fluorescent glow to our urine, that occurs when excess riboflavin is excreted. Brewer’s yeast is the best source of B2, other sources include organ meats, oily fish, milk products and dark green leafy vegetables. Riboflavin is beneficial for people dealing with eye problems, stress conditions, dermatitis, digestive difficulties, leg cramps, and may even help during cancer treatments. The RDA set for B2 in 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences is 1.3 mg for males ages 14+ and 1.6 mg for lactating females of any age.
Vitamin B3 Niacin
Niacin is one of the most stable of the B vitamins, resistant to air, heat, light, acid, and alkali. The best sources of B3 include organ meats, fish, yeast, milk, eggs, avocados, wheat germ, and whole grains. Niacin is involved in more than 50 different metabolic reactions in the body. It stimulates circulation, supports the health of tissues of the skin, tongue, and digestive tract. It’s helpful for the healthy activity of the nervous system and normal brain function. Moreover, it is needed for the synthesis of sex hormones and other corticosteroids. It’s important for the treatment of mental disorders, those with high cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, and protects against heart attacks and strokes. The RDA for B3 set in 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences is 16 mg for males 14+ and 17 mg for lactating females of any age.
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic Acid
B5 functions as part of the molecule called Coenzyme A, is important to metabolism and is found in all living cells. Pantothenic Acid gets its name from the Greek panthos meaning everywhere, in regards to its ubiquity in foods. Good sources of B5 include vegetables, avocados, egg yolks, fish, brewer’s yeast, chicken, and organ meats. It’s important to healthy skin and nerves, cellular metabolism, prevents visible signs of ageing and wrinkles, and adrenal support. It is known as the anti-stress vitamin because of its support of the adrenal glands in dealing with stress and fatigue relief. B5 is helpful for nerve disorders, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, mental illnesses, and alcoholism. The RDA for B5 set in 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences is 5 mg for males 14+ and 7 mg for lactating females of any age.
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine
B6 is an important B vitamin, especially for women due to hormone balance and water shifts. Pyridoxine if lost in cooking, but is stable in acid, less stable in alkali, and destroyed by UV light. The best sources of B6 are organ meats, wheat germ, egg yolk, vegetable and fruit sources, fish, poultry, and whole wheat. It helps with red blood cell production and the synthesis of DNA and RNA. B6 is needed to help maintain a normal intracellular magnesium level, balances sodium and potassium in the body and facilitates the release of glycogen. The brain also needs it to convert tryptophan to serotonin. Pyridoxine is a natural diuretic, is helpful for weight loss, blood pressure control, and is supportive of healthy immune function. B6 is also important for headaches, prostatitis in men, diabetes, fatigue, mental illnesses, and cancer. The RDA set in 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences for B6 is 1.3 mg for males 14+ and 2.0 for lactating females of any age.
Vitamin B12 Cobalamin
Perhaps the most popular and widely recognized B vitamin, and for good reason. B12 is found in significant amounts only in animal protein foods, which can make it difficult for those that are strict vegans to get enough of this essential vitamin. Hydrochloric acid helps absorption of B12 so taking an antacid or laxative will tend to lessen the absorption. Good sources of cobalamin include most fish, milk products especially live culture yogurt, organ meats, crab, shrimp, egg yolks, oysters, and scallops. For strict vegans, additional supplementation is needed or periodic injections, which have become popular recently. B12 is important for the entire nervous system, the synthesis of DNA and RNA, and the production of choline and methionine, another B vitamin and amino acid respectively. Cobalamin is also known as the longevity vitamin because of its nervous system support in the elderly. It’s the main anti-fatigue vitamin because of its energy-boosting properties and is used in weight loss programs as an appetite suppressant. B12 has also been used to treat diabetic neuropathy, osteoporosis, shingles, bursitis, osteoarthritis, and neuralgias. The RDA for B12 set in 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences is 2.4 mcg for males 14+ and 2.8 mcg for lactating females of any age.