Today’s message is about B Vitamins and their role in maintaining human health
The B Vitamins are acquired both through diet and production in the intestinal flora, which is one of the many reasons it is important to pay attention to intestinal health.
B Vitamins help the body to transform food into energy, maintain a strong immune system, balance many of the body’s hormones and perform a wide variety of other tasks.
B Vitamins work together as a complex and are dependent upon one another to perform their individual tasks. The insufficient intake or overdosing of one B Vitamin can create imbalances and deficiencies in others and impair the body’s ability to assimilate and metabolize them. This is why it is so important to get B Vitamins from food sources . Taking individual B Vitamins in large doses will have a pharmaceutical effect, rather than a nutrition-building effect, which may be alright when done with a professional for a short period of time, but is not a good idea for obvious reasons in the long term
B Vitamin deficiency
Some of the things that contribute to a B Vitamin deficiency are:
- Sugar and other processed foods
- Toxins such as pesticides
- Environmental pollution
- Inadequate digestion
The most common reasons, in my experience, that people develop B deficiencies are stress and processed foods. We can get processed foods out of the diet, but we all have to live with more than our fair share of stress, which is why I recommend daily consumption of Brewer’s yeast, a B-rich food.
Symptoms of B Deficiency
Here are some of the common symptoms of B deficiency:
- Vague fears
- Uneasiness to panic
- Mood swings
- Morbid thoughts
- Constant feeling that something dreadful is going to happen
- Mental confusion
- Noise sensitivity
- Inability to handle stress
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of memory
- Impaired intellect
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Digestive problems
- Insufficient stomach acid production
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach pains
- Craving for sweets
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pains
- Muscle soreness
- Cold hands and feet
- Heightened sensitivity to pain
- Menstrual complaints
- Soreness of the mouth
- Burning or itching eyes
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
Chronic B complex deficiency puts a lot of stress on the adrenal glands and many times people who have become deficient in B Vitamins for a long period of time need to work on restoring their adrenals.
B-1, or thiamin
B-1, or thiamin, is a powerful antioxidant that regulates the conversion of glucose into energy, increases blood flow in memory tissues, is important for heart function, detoxification, muscle tone of the intestines, stomach and heart, and the overall health of the nervous system.
Best sources of B-1 are brewers yeast, nutritional yeast, brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, nuts, peas, poultry, rice bran, dulse, kelp, spirulina, wheat germ and whole grains.
Excessive does of B-1 can deplete other B vitamins and disrupt insulin and thyroid production
B-2, or riboflavin
B-2, or riboflavin, is needed for energy production, antibody production, production of red blood cells, healthy eyes and skin, and growth. It is important in the prevention and treatment of cataracts and helps in the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant
Food sources are brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, almonds, wheat germ, wild rice, egg yolks, legumes, fish and poultry.
B-3 is important for nervous system function, production of hydrochloric acid and secretion of digestive fluids. B-3 is available in 2 forms – niacin and niacinamide. Niacin lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increases HDL, increases circulation, improves oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells and strengthens the utilization of GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter
Niacin can cause a flushing effect when taking 50 mg or more. Niacin should be taken under the direction of a physician, as long-term use can cause liver damage. Niacinamide has been used since the 1940’s to reduce insulin requirements of diabetics, and for the treatment of osteoarthritis
Food sources include brewers or nutritional yeast, broccoli, carrots, eggs, fish, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, dandelion greens and wheat germ.
B-5, pantothenic acid
B-5, pantothenic acid, assists in synthesizing adrenal hormones, forming antibodies, enhances the use of other vitamins, and promotes the conversion of choline to acetylcholine, an essential brain neurotransmitter. It also is essential for normal function of the gastrointestinal tract, glucose metabolism, optimal energy and for wound healing.
Food sources include brewer’s yeast, fresh vegetables, eggs, mushrooms, avocadoes, broccoli, whole grains, bran, peanuts, cashews, legumes and soybeans.
B-6, pyridoxine, is needed for production of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, is important in the growth of red blood cells, health of the skin and mucous membranes, and proper function of more than 60 enzymes.
It can be taken therapeutically for PMS, bloating, carpal tunnel, depression, neuropathy, epilepsy, kidney stones, osteoporosis, CVD, autism, and diabetes.
Oral contraceptives, high-protein diets and alcohol consumption drain B-6 from the system.
Best sources are brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, walnuts, carrots, legumes, soybeans, chicken, eggs, fish, spinach, black strap molasses and whole grains
B-6 should always be taken under the direction of a doctor, as it can deplete other vitamins and result in liver problems or nerve damage.
Biotin assists in the utilization of other B vitamins, fatty acid production and cell growth. It promotes healthy skin and hair, nerve tissue and bone marrow and helps in relieving muscle pain
Biotin is produced in the intestines from foods that contain it. Good food sources are nutritional yeast, soy, whole grains, egg yolks, meat, poultry and saltwater fish.
Deficiencies are created through use of antibiotics, sulfa drugs, artificial sweeteners, and the consumption of rancid or oxidized fats and oils (this is one of the reasons we teach people not to cook with vegetable oils).
Choline is the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and is essential for memory function. It also helps reduce homocysteine levels, which promotes cardiovascular health, and is necessary for myelin formation. Additionally, choline is helpful for gall bladder regulation, liver function, hormone formation and cholesterol metabolism.
Choline makes up about 30% of the dry weight of the brain. It is found in egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, yeast and wheat germ.
B12 strengthens neurotransmitters, increases concentration, is necessary for myelin formation and metabolizes homocysteine. Appropriate levels of B12 are necessary for proper nervous system function, production of red blood cells and healthy digestion.
Absorption of B12 is dependent upon enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Stomach acid production decreases with age, but green tea stimulates increased HCL production. Intrinsic factor in the small intestine is also necessary for B12 absorption. Intrinsic factor is secreted by the parietal cells of the stomach. This is another reason why it is so important to pay attention to digestive health and the condition of the intestines.
The body stores B12, and it takes many years to develop a deficiency, which can cause nerve damage. Deficiency can result from inadequate intake, lack of intrinsic factor, unhealthy conditions in the gut, or thyroid disorders. Supplementation alone, therefore, does not always fix the problem. The cause must be diagnosed in order to remedy the deficiency condition.
Strict vegans can run the risk of B12 deficiencies, although the consumption of fortified foods makes this unlikely. Additionally, the body stores B-12, it takes about 7 years with no B-12 consumption to result in a true deficiency. Individuals can either take a B-12 supplement or increase consumption of food sources, which include yeast, sea vegetables, and spirulina.
Folic acid works synergistically with B12, and is critical for cell division and healthy nerve tissue. Deficiency affects all cells in the body.
Folate deficiencies develop from consuming the Standard American Diet, especially from consuming mostly cooked vegetables since cooking destroys folate (it is fragile). Alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, and oral contraceptives also deplete folic acid from the body.
Taking large doses of folic acid in the form of supplementation can mask a B12 deficiency, which can be dangerous. Again this is the reason you should be very careful about supplementation.
Food sources of folate include dark leafy greens, yeast, rice germ, wheat germ, blackeye peas, beans, lentils, asparagus, liver, soybeans, wheat bran and walnuts.
Most pregnant women are told to take a folic acid supplement. This is based on the assumption of most physicians that their average patient is consuming the Standard American Diet. However, women who consume a plant-based diet like the one that I recommend are unlikely to need supplementation.