How Vitamin B-Complex Works
The B vitamins work synergistically with each other to have maximum effect on the body. Vitally important is the role the B vitamins play in converting the food we eat into energy. Acting together, they can reenergize the body for optimal health. B-Complex vitamins are essential for proper body function. In addition, women who consume healthful diets with adequate folate [folic acid] may reduce their risk of having a child with birth defects of the brain or spinal cord. Folate intake should not exceed 1,000 mcg daily.
Vitamin B1 - Thiamin
At Work in Energy Production
The body goes through an amazingly complex series of reactions to turn the food an individual eats into energy. All of the B vitamins are involved in each of these steps, but thiamin is of particular interest. Thiamin plays a critical role in the conversion of blood sugar, glucose, into biological energy. One step in the process needs an enzyme called thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP) to work. Without thiamin, the body cannot make various enzymes essential for energy production and the whole process comes to a halt.
Thiamin is also required for proper brain and nervous system functioning.* Thiamin is connected with the brain’s ability to use glucose as an energy source and to maintain normal mental functioning.* It is also needed to produce and use the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Thiamin is also involved in key metabolic reactions in nervous tissue, the heart, the formation of red blood cells, and the maintenance of smooth and skeletal muscle.* Thiamin helps keep your heart muscles elastic and working smoothly, which helps your heart pump strongly and evenly.* In fact, thiamin is so essential for our bodies that lack of thiamin in intravenous nutrition formulations can lead to life-threatening situations.
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Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
At Work in Enzyme Production
Riboflavin is essential for proper body functioning, especially as it relates to energy production.* It provides energy at the most basic level: inside the body’s cells. Riboflavin is needed to make two enzymes that are absolutely critical for releasing energy from the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins consumed.
Riboflavin and its derivatives are also involved in cell growth and reproduction. It helps the body make new red blood cells, which are necessary for carrying oxygen so people can breathe. It also helps the immune system by keeping healthy mucous membranes that line your digestive and respiratory systems.
Riboflavin is involved with an enzyme called glutathione reductase, which helps the body maintain a major protector against free radicals. Because of this, emerging evidence indicates that riboflavin can act as an antioxidant in the body, potentially helping the immune system and promoting healthy cholesterol by helping to quench free radicals in the body.*
Riboflavin assists in a number of vital chemical processes in the body. For example, folate and vitamin B6 require riboflavin to undergo the chemical changes that make them useful. Amino acids are also transformed by riboflavin and its derivatives into what are called neurotransmitters, chemicals essential for memory and thinking.
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Vitamin B3 - Niacin
At Work in Biochemical Reactions
More than 50 body processes, from releasing energy from food to making hormones and detoxifying chemicals, all depend on niacin. As with many of the other B vitamins, niacin is also involved in energy production and a whole host of other chemical reactions through its derivatives. The normal physiologic role of niacin is as a component of enzymes that are involved in the oxidation-reduction reactions needed for respiration in tissues.
Nicotinic acid (vitamin B3) is rapidly becoming one of the substances of choice for promoting healthy levels of cholesterol.* Vitamin B3 has been conclusively found to promote a healthy balance of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (unhealthy cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (healthy cholesterol).*
Niacin may also promote the health of airway systems and joints in the body.* This is most likely because of niacin’s ability to help prevent histamine release, a biochemical normally released in the body during allergic reactions. Due to this fact, niacin has also been suggested by some studies to promote normal range of motion and promote joint health.* Another novel use of niacin has been to counter occasional sleeplessness.* It has proven to be a sleep enhancer.* The nutrient activates certain receptors in the brain that affect sleep.
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Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid
At Work in Athletic Performance
Traditionally, pantothenic acid has been overlooked since usually an ample supply is found in a well-balanced diet. However, recent findings have suggested supplementation with this vitamin to be very beneficial, especially when taken in conjunction with the other B vitamins. It is important to keep in mind that all the B vitamins work best when taken together. In combination, they create a synergism for maximum benefit to the body. They are much more powerful when taken together than when alone. The key to vitamin B5 is timing its intake into the body with the other B vitamins, which is difficult to do in a regular diet.
Pantothenic acid is a component of the vitamin B-complex that plays a number of vital metabolic roles in the body. Included in these functions are aiding in the production of energy and also adrenal gland hormones.* Because of its relationship to these activities, it has become increasingly popular in regard to energy and athletic performance.
Pantothenic acid may also promote joint and skin health.* Further, it may also play a role in the normal functioning of the immune system.* There have been findings of reduced immunity to certain infectious agents when a vitamin B5 deficiency occurs.
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Walsh J, Wyse B and R Hansen. Pantothenic acid content of 75 processed and cooked foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 78:140-144. 1981.
Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
At Work in Protein Synthesis
One of the main jobs of pyridoxine is shuffling around amino acids to make the 5,000+ proteins the body needs to function properly. It is needed to turn the proteins an individual eats into amino acids the body can use. It is also needed to convert the storage form of carbohydrates in the body to a form the body can use for energy on demand.
It is also involved in the synthesis of over 60 different enzymes, plays a role in the multiplication of all cells, and in the production of red blood cells and the cells of the immune system. Of all the B vitamins, pyridoxine may be the most crucial for the proper functioning of a healthy immune system.* Further, through its effects on various minerals and brain neurotransmitters, it influences the nervous system.*
Working with the other B vitamins, especially folic acid and cobalamin, pyridoxine helps turn the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins an individual eats into energy for the body. Pyridoxine combines with folic acid (vitamin B9) and cobalamin (vitamin B12) to promote heart health by breaking down homocysteine.* All three need to be working together for maximum removal of homocysteine from the body.
Pyridoxine by itself, though, has some very potent roles in promoting cardiovascular health.* One of these attributes is keeping red blood cells from getting “sticky” and clumping together. When this occurs, the cells release very powerful chemicals that eventually cause vessel damage.
Pyridoxine has also been suggested to play a role in promoting the health of joints, airways, and the normal regulation of female hormones.* Further, pyridoxine’s exact role in the immune system may not yet be clearly defined, but it is without a doubt a key player in immune function.*
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Vitamin B9 - Folic Acid
At Work in Cell Maintenance
Folic acid is needed for a multitude of processes in the body. Its importance keeps growing as more and more research points to the powerful beneficial effects this vitamin has on the body. For example, it is needed for the growth and maintenance of every cell in the body and is involved intimately with one-carbon metabolism pathways. DNA, the genetic material of cells, needs folate to be synthesized. Folic acid also plays a role in preventing birth defects and promoting cardiovascular and immune health.* Folic acid works best in conjunction with the other B vitamins, especially pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and cobalamin (vitamin B12). In addition, other studies suggest that folic acid helps to promote normal mental functioning in the elderly and the health of red blood cells.*
Another role folic acid plays is to promote healthy homocysteine levels in the body.* In combination with pyridoxine and cobalamin, folic acid works to quickly break down homocysteine and remove it from the body before it can do damage. This helps maintain heart health.* In addition, recent evidence suggests that folic acid also plays a role in promoting efficient immune system functioning.*
Every year in the United States roughly 2,500 babies are born with a neural tube defect. This is a severe type of birth defect in which the spine does not form properly during the first month of development. About 1-2 out of every 1,000 births a day have a neural tube defect. Recent studies have conclusively shown that taking 400 micrograms of folic acid each day before getting pregnant can prevent between 50-75% of these defects from happening. In 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing age receive 400 mcg of folic acid each day. Every agency concerned with birth defects advocates for proper folic acid supplementation.
It is extremely important to note that women using oral contraceptives may be more susceptible to a folic acid deficiency. Although oral contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancy, women have gotten pregnant while using the oral contraceptive method. This is of concern because if a woman is not addressing her increased need for folic acid while on this medication, it may lead to increased risk of neural tube birth defects in children. Fortunately, simple supplementation with folic acid may take care of the deficiency.*
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Rieder MJ. Prevention of neural tube defects with periconceptual folic acid. Clin Perinatol. 21:483-503. 1994.
Verhaar MC, Wever RMF, Kastelein JJP, et al. Effects of oral folic acid supplementation on endothelial function in familial hypercholesterolemia: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Circulation. 100:335-338. 1999.
Werler MM, Shapiro S and AA Mitchell. Periconceptional folic acid exposure and risk of occurrent neural tube defects. JAMA. 269:1257-1261. 1993.
Woodside JV, Yarnell JWG, McMaster D, et al. Effect of B-group vitamins and antioxidant vitamins on hyperhomocysteinemia: a double-blind, randomized factorial-design, controlled trial. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 67:858-866. 1998.
Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin
At Work in Cell Production
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, plays a multitude of roles in the body. One of its most important functions is in the production of red blood cells. If the body does not receive enough cobalamin, red blood cells become fragile and too large to work efficiently, and lower levels of functioning red blood cells occur.
Vitamin B12 is needed throughout the body to make DNA, a cell’s genetic material. A shortage of vitamin B12 leads to a shortage of cell production. Because of this shortage, red blood cells do not undergo proper maturation. The result of this is a decreased amount of red blood cells in the body and a resulting lower levels of functioning red blood cells.
All of the body’s cells, not just red blood cells, need cobalamin. Cobalamin plays a role in growth and division of all cells in the body. Therefore, cobalamin is essential for the proper maintenance of the cells in the immune system, including white blood cells-those most critical for the defense of the body.*
Vitamin B12 is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system.* It is required for synthesis of myelin and maintenance of the integrity of neuronal (brain) tissue. Due to this role in the nerve transduction system, a large list of neurological problems have been linked to vitamin B12 deficiency. Because of this fact, vitamin B12 has been indicated for promoting the health of nervous tissues in the body.*
Working with the other B vitamins, especially folic acid and pyridoxine, cobalamin helps turn the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins an individual eats into energy for the body. It also helps to remove harmful homocysteine from the body before it can damage blood vessel walls.
Andres E. Goichot B. Schlienger JL. Food cobalamin malabsorption: a usual cause of vitamin B12 deficiency [letter; comment]. Archives of Internal Medicine. 160(13):2061-2, 2000 Jul 10.
Anonymous. Vitamin B12 confirmed as effective sulfite allergy blocker. Allergy Observer. 4(2):1. March-April 1998.
Bastrup-Madsen P, Helleberg-Rasmussen I, Norregard S, et al. Long term therapy of pernicious anemia with the depot cobalamin preparation Betolvex®. Scand. J. Haematol. 31:57-62.1983.
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Chandna SM, Tattersall JE, Nevett G, et al. Low serum vitamin B12 levels in chronic high-flux ahemodialysis patients. Nephron. 75:259-263. 1997.
Crosby WH. Oral cyanocobalamin without intrinsic factor for pernicious anemia. Arch. Intern. Med. 140:1582. 1980.
Geissbuhler P. Mermillod B. Rapin CH. Elevated serum vitamin B12 levels associated with CRP as a predictive factor of mortality in palliative care cancer patients: a prospective study over five years. Journal of Pain & Symptom Management. 20(2):93-103, 2000 Aug.
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Heimburger, etal. Improvement in bronchial squamous metaplasia in smokers treated with folate and vitamin B12. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 45:866. 1987.
Hjelt K, Brynskob J, Hippe E, et al. Oral contraceptives and the cobalamin (vitamin B12) metabolism. Acta. Obstet. Gynecol. Scand. 64:59-63. 1985.
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At Work During Metabolism
Biotin acts as a coenzyme during the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Specifically, it acts as a cofactor for carboxylase reactions that are involved in the synthesis of fatty acids and DNA, energy production, and in the metabolism of branched chain amino acids. Because of its role in metabolism, some studies have suggested a possible role for biotin in promoting sugar balance in the body.*
One of biotin’s primary roles is to modulate fat metabolism. When liver damage occurs, the cells swell and become infiltrated with fat. This fat, when present, keeps the cells from healing when damaged, which can lead to an abundance of problems. Biotin works well to remove fatty deposits resulting from toxins, thus promoting healthy liver function.*
Due to biotin’s role as a cofactor for the metabolism of fats and amino acids, it has been suggested that biotin can help promote athletic performance.* Since it is important in the metabolism of the three vital amino acids valine, isoleucine and leucine, it may help long-term muscle mass growth.*
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At Work in Cell Membranes
Although not officially a B vitamin, inositol is recognized as a part of the B-complex. It occurs in all cell membranes as phosphatidylinositol. Due to this, inositol is required for proper formation of cell membranes. Inositol is found as a component in the brain, skeletal, heart, and male reproductive tissues. It functions in nerve transmission, the regulation of enzyme activity and the transport of fats within the body.
Inositol is essential for hair growth and can promote healthy hair maintenance.* It may also help promote cardiovascular health.* Furthermore, the neurotransmitters serotonin and acetylcholine both require phosphatidylinositol for proper functioning. Because of this, exciting research has demonstrated that inositol can help promote normal psychological health.* Inositol also functions in the metabolism of calcium and insulin.
Recent advances in nutritional and biochemical research have documented inositol as an important dietary and cellular constituent in many metabolic pathways in the body, including the glucuronic acid and pentose phosphate pathways. These pathways are responsible for the production of glucose, glucuronolactone, and water.
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|* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. |