T H E I M P O R T A N C E O F B – V I T A M I N S
Exploring the Health Benefits of the B-Vitamins
I’m often asked a variety of questions, that I’ve grouped the answers to why the B-Vitamins are so great. I hope these help to quell your B-Vitamin curiosities ?
1. Why are there so many different B-Vitamins?
B-Vitamins are a group of eight chemically distinct vitamins, each one performing unique functions with specific benefits. They help convert our food into energy and play important roles in different aspects of cell metabolism, helping you stay energized throughout the day. But they are also important in promoting healthy skin and hair, balancing moods and relieving stress, helping mental clarity and focus, supporting cardiovascular health, preventing migraines, and promoting immunity.
2. Are each of the B vitamins equally important?
YES! They all function in unique manners throughout the body.
3. What are the symptoms of B-Vitamin deficiency?
Symptoms of a deficiency depend on what type of Vitamin B you lack. The most common deficiency is B12 deficiency, which is actually relatively common. It causes lethargy, fatigue, weakness, anemia, memory loss, and neurological problems and even psychiatric problems.
But B vitamin deficiencies can cause all sorts of problems ranging from headaches, irritability, and confusion to anemia or a compromised immune system, to fatigue. Skin rashes, dry skin, cracks at the corners of the mouth, frequent bruising, and wounds that require a long time to heal can be symptoms. Muscle weakness, a lack of coordination, and numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes may also occur.
4. What are some food options when consuming B-Vitamins?
B vitamins are particularly concentrated in meat such as turkey, tuna, and liver. But other good plant sources for B vitamins include legumes, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, chili peppers, nutritional and brewer’s yeast, tempeh, and molasses.
Probably one of the most important things you can do food-wise to get B’s from your diet is to eat fermented foods. Gut bacteria synthesize and supply some of the B vitamins, so if you are not eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir, take a good probiotic daily.
Since Vitamin B12 is found primarily in meat and dairy products, strict vegetarians and vegans in particular are at risk for a deficiency. Vitamin B9 (Folate) can be found in many foods, from meats to grains to citrus fruits. Vitamin B6 can be found in fish, poultry, liver, potatoes, and non-citrus fruit.
5. What does Methylation have to do with B-vitamins?
Methylation is a process that your cells perform billions of times each second. Without proper methylation, your body will not be able to respond properly to stress—either to physical stressors, such as toxins and challenging foods or to psychological stressors, such as life challenges and pressures. As a result, you’ll be more vulnerable to chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune conditions, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological problems. Improper methylation also makes you more vulnerable to the decline in function that we usually associate with aging.
It is believed that about half of us have some type of genetic mutation that makes it difficult to methylate, so look for B vitamins with methylated forms of B12 and folic acid or look for natural folate for maximum benefit. You can get genetic testing (the MTHFR gene test) to find out whether you have one of these defective genes.
6. Is getting a Vitamin B IV drip—something that’s become so popular these days—the best way to get Vitamin B?
A typical “Meyer’s Cocktail,” which is a common intravenous shot of vitamins, contains a B complex mix. Make sure you are getting methylated B12 and folic acid in IV. They have become quite popular now, but I tend to use it for my patients who are tired, are coming down with a “cold” or “flu,” or who just need a boost.
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