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5 Reasons to Up Your Intake of B Vitamins


bvitamins I started taking a B complex supplement years ago, when I was in college. I’d read about how extra B vitamins were helpful for stress, and I knew that women taking birth control pills needed extra B6.

Later, I switched to a multivitamin that had all eight of the B vitamins in good amounts, and I still take extra B vitamins every day. That’s because, as a nutritionist, I know the Bs are involved in many basic biochemical reactions in the body, and that they often work together. That means that if I’m low in even one B vitamin, my body won’t function as well as it could. I won’t have the energy I need, I might feel depressed, and I could be at higher risk for heart disease, stroke or cancer. I also know that I don’t eat all that much of the richest foods sources of Bs: liver, beans, eggs, leafy greens and brewer’s yeast.  I don’t count on getting enough of every B I need from even my better-than-average diet.

Here are just some of the many things Bs can do:

1. B vitamins prevent brain shrinkage.

One study found that older people with lower-than-average B12 levels were six times more likely to show signs of brain shrinkage, an early sign of impaired cognitive function and Alzheimer’s disease. Even B12 levels that are above the traditional cutoff for B12 deficiency — and seemingly adequate — may impair cognition in older people. B12 is needed to maintain the fatty myelin sheath that wraps around and protects nerves, including nerve cells in the brain.

2. B vitamins improve nerve function.

Supplementing with B vitamins can have a direct effect on important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and GABA. Two Bs, pantothenic acid and folic acid, also play a role in adrenal gland function. B deficiencies can cause depression, anxiety and irritability, tiredness, mental confusion and neuropathy (tingling and numbness in the feet and/or hands).

3. B vitamins can save your eyes and ears as you age.

Supplementing with folic acid, B6 and B12 can reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration by about one-third. And getting plenty of folic acid reduced the risk for hearing loss by 20% in men age 60 or older. In both cases, the B vitamins may work by protecting tiny blood vessels in the retina of the eye and the inner ear. They do that by lowering levels of homocysteine, a byproduct of incomplete protein metabolism that is harmful to blood vessels.

4. B vitamins promote energy production and offer diabetes protection.

Most of the Bs are involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats into the fuel our bodies use for energy. So it’s no wonder that people with type 2 diabetes often seem to benefit from getting extra Bs. One study found that getting extra thiamine reduced sugar-related damage to cells by an impressive 80%.

5. B vitamins prevent birth defects.

Women who are deficient in folic acid during the first month of their pregnancy — when they might not even know they are pregnant — are more likely to have a child with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. B vitamins such as folic acid and B6 are involved in DNA synthesis and repair, and cell replication, which is why they play such an important role in fetal development. Folic acid and B6 deficiencies have also been linked with DNA changes that can lead to cancer.

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12 responses to “5 Reasons to Up Your Intake of B Vitamins”

  1. Hradersoap says:

    This comment is for Gale Maleskey; Dear Gale I respect your work very much. On the subject of Folic Acid, I used to take 800mcg daily 400 from a multi and 400 from a B50 complex. Then Andrew Weil said there had been an increase in Colon Cancer and some doctors were thinking that we get so much Folic Acid from other sources (bread, cereal) that 400mcg was what he was reccomending. Now I take 400mcg of Folic Acid, Thiamin 3mg, Riboflavin 3mg and Niacin 25mg in a muti-vitamin. I take seperatley 50mg Vitamin B6 and 500mg of Vitamin B12. This is doing it the Hard Way but I thought it made sense to back off of the extra 400mcg of Folic Acid. What”s your opinion on my Vitamin B status, Itry to eata green leafy salads several time a week. Thanks, for taking a look at this. I'm trying to do my best, but I need the help of Quaified people like you. Thanks. Harold Rader

  2. […] 5 Reasons Why B Vitamins Are Critical | Anti-Aging News | Anti-Aging Resources | Live in the Now by … […]

  3. […] because one of their primary roles in the body is to keep the nervous system functioning well. Deficiencies of B-vitamins are associated an increase in stress-related symptoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability, […]

  4. […] more vitamins, medications and recovery plans than I can possibly count. I’ve given myself B vitamin injections, tried every eating plan in the book and attempted countless doctors’ new fangled […]

  5. […] 5 Reasons Why B Vitamins Are Critical | Natural Health News … The Bs are involved in many basic biochemical reactions in the body. If you’re low in even one B vitamin, your body won’t function as well as it could. Publish Date: 07/29/2010 23:00 5-reasons-why-b-vitamins-are-critical […]

  6. […] many years I’ve told my patients that optimizing B vitamin levels can improve their mood. Now, a new study shows that B vitamins are a must for staying positive in […]

  7. Gopikiran says:

    Nutrilite Natural B and Iron Folic are the best & richest sources of all types of vitamin B  (B1 to B12) and Iron..As these are manufactured from plant sources there won’t be any side effects and complete usage (absorption) of the supplement will be there…

  8. Goldie says:

    I take a sublingual B12 supplement, but it seems that every time I take it, I break out with a red rash and burning sensation in my arms, legs and hands.  I couldn’t figure it out until I read the label, and found the compound also contains niacin listed as the first ingredient with the highest amount.  Could that be the source of this uncomfortable reaction?  I have heard about a “niacin flush” and was wondering if that’s what I’m experiencing.  

    • Julie says:

      YES! Niacin causes all those problems with flushing, rash, increased heart rate. I was prescribed it and it sent me to the ER as the burning flushing was so intense I was splashing myself with water and sitting in front of a fan trying to alleviate it but it just kept escalating, my heart was pounding out of my chest and it felt like it was literally killing me. Very scary. If that is the highest concentration of ingredients in your supplement that is definitely what is causing the rashes etc. You should try to find a B supplement that does not have any niacin in it or at least a very tiny minimal amount of it.

  9. […] know B vitamins are critical for a healthy life, but a new study shows they may also help stop the leading cause of blindness and low vision in […]

  10. Kazie says:

    I take B-complex soft gels everyday together with Omega fatty acids. I hate the smell of B-complex and makes your urine yellow, but it does set my nerve function very well throughout my body.
    Kazie Uyama, N.D.

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