Written By Sarah Schweter / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
All vitamins are considered micronutrients; these are organic compounds that are necessary for normal physiological function of our bodies. We need micronutrients in small amounts due to the constant turnover and the limited storage capacity in the body.
As humans we need 13 vitamins in our everyday life to function well. These vitamins are broken down into two categories: fat soluble (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K) and water soluble vitamins (Vitamin B and Vitamin C).
Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the bloodstream and are essential for carbohydrate metabolism. Any excess is filtered out by the kidneys and excreted through urine. We will focus on the importance of B vitamins specifically.
What is so special about B vitamins?
B vitamins act as coenzymes for specific catabolic and anabolic processes that occur in our body on a daily basis. For example, B1, B2 and B5 are essential for energy production.
These four vitamins are needed for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our energy currency. Without ATP, we would feel very tired.
Riboflavin in B vitamins
Riboflavin (B2) is essential for the production of two coenzymes, FMN (flavin mononucleotide) and FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide). These two coenzymes play an important role in energy production, growth, cellular function and fat metabolism.
Foods that are high in riboflavin are eggs, organ meats such as kidneys and liver, and milk. Most breads and cereals are fortified with riboflavin in the United States.
Niacin in B vitamins
Niacin (B3) is also an essential micronutrient used for food to energy production. B3 helps for proper cell signaling and may help to lower cholesterol.
Some foods high in niacin are fish, chicken, avocados, peanuts and brown rice.
Without sufficient amounts of B1, B5 and B6 our brain and nervous system are in danger because these three B vitamins are mainly responsible for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, serotonin, noradrenaline and melatonin.
For example, acetylcholine controls muscle function and memory. There have been some links established between dementia and thiamine deficiency. Some foods high in thiamine include cooked asparagus, navy beans, trout, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pork, acorn squash and wheat bread.
Pantothenic acid in B vitamins
Pantothenic acid (B5) is necessary for the synthesis of coenzyme A which plays a role in the oxidative metabolism. CoA is heavily involved in making many of the neurotransmitters and steroid hormones as well as cholesterol, amino acids, fatty acids and phospholipids.
These are all needed for proper brain and body function. Foods high in B5 are mostly vegetables which include broccoli, mushrooms, lentils and peas.
Pyridoxine in B vitamins
Pyridoxine (B6) not only has an important function in the folate cycle but also aids in the metabolism of amino acids which are essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are very sensitive to B6 levels.
A lack of B6 can cause sleeping difficulties, certain behaviors as well as have a direct impact on the Immune system. Foods high in B6 are pork, chicken, fish, oatmeal and eggs.
Biotin in B vitamins
Biotin (B7) is important for homeostasis in our body and glucose metabolism. Vitamin B7 is found in egg yolks, cereals, milk, salmon, pork, mushrooms and avocados.
Folate in B vitamins
Folate (B9) is found in most green vegetables; most cereals and breads are fortified with folate to avoid neural tube defects. Ensuring that the folate cycle works well is necessary because the cycle is important to make a certain cofactor that once again converts amino acids to neurotransmitters. Folate also helps to make new red blood cells.
Cobolamin in B vitamins
Cobolamin (B12) is only found in animal products such as pork, chicken, beef and fish. Vegetarians and vegans should make sure that they take a B12 supplement daily to avoid any deficiencies.
Deficiencies in some of the B vitamins can cause these symptoms
B1 deficiencies can cause damage to the cardiovascular, nervous and immune system. It is often associated with chronic alcoholism or in populations whose main dietary intake is polished rice and milled cereals.
Dry beriberi presents itself as symmetrical peripheral neuropathy which could show as mental confusion, difficulty walking, nystagmus, loss of sensation of the hands and feet pain.
Wet beriberi presents as shortness of breath during walking, swollen legs and weakness since it attacks the heart.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is most often seen with chronic intake of excessive alcohol. The person may feel leg tremors, gait and vision changes, a change in their mental status and visible eyelid drooping.
Riboflavin deficiencies and B vitamins
Riboflavin deficiencies are rarely seen in the United States. Some symptoms include fatigue as deficiency in B2 can cause alterations in iron absorption.
Other symptoms include hair loss, skin disorders and reproductive difficulties. After several months of B2 deficiency, the person may notice cracked corners of the mouth and possibly a magenta-colored tongue.
Niacin deficiency is called Pellagra and usually manifests itself in the skin, gastrointestinal and central nervous system. A person may experience a photosensitive rash, diarrhea and mental confusion.
B5 deficiencies are rarely seen and usually occur with deficiencies in other nutrients as well. Fatigue, headaches, poor sleep and numbness and burning of the hands and feet can be seen with B5 deficiency.
The symptoms of a deficiency in B6 are similar to the ones of B3: skin lesions, skin photosensitivity, movement disorders, paresthesias, weakness and peripheral neuropathies. B6 deficiencies are rare in developed countries but are seen with long intake of birth control.
Biotin deficiencies can be seen with increased viral and bacterial infections, increased sensitivity and skin inflammation.
B9 deficiencies can cause megaloblastic anemia. Folate is a vital part of making new red blood cells; red blood cells bring oxygen to the body, without enough oxygen the body does not function well.
Some symptoms include reduced appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, pale skin and a smooth and tender tongue.
B12 deficiency can cause pernicious anemia. It is often seen in the elderly population due to malabsorption and can also be seen in people with a vegan diet since B12 is only found in meat sources.
Some symptoms include chronic pain, headaches, weight loss, abdominal pain, and neurological symptoms such as reduced vibratory sensation into the arms and legs with possible weakness.
Homocysteine levels and B vitamins
One other important thing to discuss in this post is the relationship between B vitamins, specifically B6, folate and B12, and homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a sulfur amino acid found in most meat products.
High levels of homocysteine can cause cardiovascular conditions. The three B vitamins help to reduce the risk of hyperhomocysteinemia.
Treat chronic pain with B vitamins
Regardless of chronic neck pain due to posture and poor ergonomics or chronic low back pain due to a B12 deficiency, chiropractors can help you find the source of the pain and make nutritional and/or ergonomic suggestions on how to deal with the pain. Using a holistic approach to treatment is what acupuncturists and chiropractors do to help the patient.
Some things to consider while supplementing with B vitamins:
- B Vitamins need magnesium to be absorbed by the body.
- Water soluble vitamins are easily absorbed and any excess in these vitamins are excreted in urine.
- Soluble vitamins are not synthesized in the body which means that we need to either take B supplements and/ or have a diet rich in certain foods.
- An active lifestyle and anti-inflammatory diets help you to feel your best
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Sarah Schweter is a Doctor of Chiropractic at Santa Clara Custom Chiropractic. She loves providing general wellness care to her patients through education. You can connect with Sarah at https://santaclaracustomchiro.com/ or https://www.instagram.com/santaclara_chiro/
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.
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