Fitness through a recovery mindset™
Fitness through a recovery mindset™

What Do B Vitamins Do?

What do B Vitamins do?

B Vitamins are becoming more and more popular these days – finding their way into 5-Hour Energy Shots, energy drinks, and preworkout supplements. While they do a whole bunch of great things in the body, as usual with the health and supplement industry, things have gotten a little blown out of proportion. Today we will break down what B-Vitamins are, what they do, and what you need to be mindful of.

 

What are B-Vitamins?

B Vitamins are a group of 8 water soluble vitamins that act as cofactors or co-enzymes in the release of energy from food. Contrary to popular belief they will not directly provide energy, however they do help facilitate the release of energy from food which is why you should always take B Vitamins with food. Even though these vitamins are water soluble meaning excess amounts will be eliminated through your urine (making your urine a bright yellow color), they can be toxic in mega-dosages. This is why it is SO important you tell your doctor exactly what vitamins and supplements you are taking. It should be noted that combining them together enhances each other’s effects in the body.

When we have a deficiency of B Vitamins in our diets the signs will be shown in our mouth. Interestingly enough, alcohol destroys or alters the use of most B Vitamins. This would explain why in 2011 when I ended up with truly movie worthy withdrawals that left me with D.T.’s for over 2 months, I was extremely deficient in vitamin B1 (Thiamin) and had to supplement with additional B1 on top of the various multi-vitamins I was already given by doctors.

8 B Vitamins

B1: Thiamin

B2: Riboflavin

B3: Niacin

B5: Pantothenic Acid

B6: Pyridoxine

B7: Biotin

B9: Folate

B12: Cyanocobalamin

B1: Thiamin

  • Part of a co-enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates and helps power protein synthesis (LINK ARTICLE)
  • Helps in creation of neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Deficiency can occur in as little as 10 days and is very common with alcoholics – it is estimated that 25% of all alcoholics are Thiamin deficient. This can lead to severe health issues to the point whenever paramedics find an unconscious homeless individual who is obviously an alcoholic, they immediately think “Thiamin Deficiency.”
  • It should be noted that Thiamin likes an acidic environment so add baking soda (which is basic, or the opposite of acidic) to vegetables actually destroys some of the natural Thiamin they contain.
  • FOODS HIGH IN THIAMIN: Fish, lean pork, seeds, nuts, wheat bread, green peas, squash, asparagus, edamame, beans

 

B2: Riboflavin

  • Helps extracts energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat
  • May be helpful in the prevention of migraines
  • Is destroyed by Ultra Violet light – this why you always want to get milk that is in an opaque container and not a glass bottle
  • Deficiency is common among alcoholics and teenage girls who don’t drink much milk or take a multi-vitamin. A deficiency in Riboflavin actually worsens a deficiency in Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine.
  • FOODS HIGH IN RIBOFLAVIN: Beef liver, lamb, milk, natural yogurts, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, wild salmon, eggs

YOU CAN FIND THE SAME B-COMPLEX I TAKE HERE:

NATURE MADE SUPER B COMPLEX FULL STRENGTH

B3: Niacin

  • Involved in well over 200 enzymes throughout the body
  • Tryptophan (an amino acid) is a precursor to Niacin and provides ½ of all the Niacin we need on a daily basis
  • Deficiency can be deadly and is common among alcoholics
  • There is an upper limit to niacin intake which is 35 mg per day
  • High Dose Niacin has been used as a “drug” to lower cholesterol although this should only be done under doctor supervision since it can raise liver enzymes, can interact badly with blood pressure meds, and can increase blood sugar levels.
  • FOODS HIGH IN NIACIN: Turkey breast, chicken breast, peanuts, mushrooms, liver, tuna, green peas, grass-fed beef, sunflower seeds, avocado

 

B5: Pantothenic Acid

  • Helps extracts energy from carbohydrates and fats
  • Helps in creation of neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Can make for clearer and softer skin
  • Deficiency is rare but serious
  • FOODS HIGH IN PANTOTHENIC ACID: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, wild salmon, avocados, sun-dried tomatoes, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, yogurt

 

B6: Pyridoxine

  • Needed for the function of over 100 enzymes
  • Helps with protein synthesis
  • Vitamin B6, B9 (folate), & B12 combine together to help with cardiovascular health
  • Can convert protein into glucose if energy needs are not being met through carbohydrate or fat intake – remember, our bodies are designed to use fat or carbohydrates as fuel sources
  • Deficiency is rare, although in 1980 a study showed for the first time ever that a water soluble vitamin can be toxic in high doses – aim for less than 100 mg per day
  • FOODS HIGH IN PYRIDOXINE: Turkey breast, grass-fed beef, pistachios, tuna, pinto beans, avocados, chicken breast, blackstrap molasses, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

 

B9: Folate

  • Helps with metabolism of amino acids
  • Needed in the synthesis of DNA and is critical for cell division
  • Vitamin B6, B9 (folate), & B12 combine together to help with cardiovascular health
  • Critical for development of the neural tube of a fetus which forms within the first 6 weeks of a pregnancy
  • It is strongly recommended that all sexually active women of childbearing age should supplement with folate or folic acid (more stable form of folate) through a multi-vitamin or fortified foods as more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned and often times not detected while the neural tube is forming (see note on fortified foods below)
  • Bioavailability fluctuates based on the form of vitamin B9 and whether or not you ingest it with food or on an empty stomach – folic acid through fortified foods or supplements on an empty stomach is the superior method
  • Naturally occurring folate is extremely vulnerable to heat which can destroy up to 90% of the folate found in your veggies – therefore it’s important to eat raw broccoli, spinach, romaine, etc.
  • In 1998 folic acid fortification of foods dramatically increased to help combat this previously common deficiency – it should be noted that B9 intake can mask a B12 Cyanocobalamin deficiency so be mindful of this. One of the more common foods fortified are breakfast cereals – if you consume fortified cereals be sure you drink all of the milk in your bowl as well since some of the folic acid will have been “washed off” the cereal by the milk as it is water soluble.
  • FOODS HIGH IN FOLATE: Spinach, asparagus, broccoli, citrus, beans, avocado, okra, Brussel sprouts, nuts, cauliflower, beets, corn, celery, carrots, squash

B12: Cyanocobalamin

  • The body can store up to a 2 year supply of this vitamin in the liver – therefore routine B12 injections are NOT needed unless in specific cases (see below)
  • Needed in the production of Red Blood Cells
  • Needed for the maintenance of Central Nervous System
  • Helps with metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates
  • Vitamin B6, B9 (folate), & B12 combine together to help with cardiovascular health
  • To properly absorb vitamin B12 from food sources, there needs to be adequate amounts of stomach acid and what’s known as “intrinsic factor” (IF). These decline naturally with age and artificially with gastric bypass surgery. This is when B12 injections can be helpful with maintaining proper levels in the body.
  • B12 deficiency can lead to anemia and is often mistaken for low iron.
  • FOODS HIGH IN CYANOCOBALAMIN: Beef liver, sardines, grass-fed beef, tuna, raw cheese, lamb, raw milk, eggs, salmon

 

Personally I taka a B-complex vitamin typically about once per day with my largest meal of the day and have been doing so for quite some time. I use this one specifically since it is not crazily overdosed like most B-Complex vitamins are and is made by a company that is USP certified.

YOU CAN FIND THE SAME B-COMPLEX I TAKE HERE:

Nature Made Super B Complex Full Strength

So as you can see, B Vitamins are extremely helpful for the digestion of our food and overall health, but mega-dosing them or taking them on an empty stomach for the most part is not advisable.

Until next time.

We can accomplish anything we want!

So long as we do it just One Day at a Time.

One Meal at a Time.

One Set at a Time.

One Rep at a Time.

-Marv

As always this was for educational and entertainment purposes only. This is not medical advice or a direct recommendation. Always consult your doctor before starting to take any supplement or changing your diet.

SOURCE: Anding, RH. Nutrition Made Clear. The Teaching Company, 2009.

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