Saturday, September 20, 2014

B Complex Vitamins

Should vitamins and minerals be served up on your plate or shaken out of a bottle? Currently, most experts believe that a combination of both - that is, a varied, healthy diet backed up by a daily multivitamin is the recommendation.

Undoubtedly, it's important to start with a healthy diet. A profusion of in-depth studies have consistently shown that whole grains, legumes, fish, fruits, vegetables, and vegetable oils have the potential to protect your body against cancer and heart disease. Some essential nutrients are packed into every food group, and certain foods such as flour, and cereal, are fortified with specific nutrients. It is also true that even the best supplements cannot encompass all the biologically active compounds abundant in a well-stocked pantry.

Another advantage of a healthy diet through natural foods is that it's difficult to overdose on vitamins and minerals. When people take several vitamin and mineral supplements, it's easier to ingest potentially harmful amounts of some nutrients.

Still, diet can't provide everything, which is why a daily multivitamin is important. It's difficult to get enough of certain nutrients such as folic acid and B12 from food. And even when vitamins and minerals are abundant in foods, your body can't always absorb and use them. The bio availability of particular nutrients depends on how foods are handled and cooked, what else on the menu might block or enhance their absorption, and how efficiently your body digests foods. In fact, your body absorbs some synthetic vitamins and minerals more readily than the same nutrients that appear naturally in food. All of these variables make a healthy diet and a daily multivitamin the right choice for nearly everyone. Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Vitamins naturally occur in food and are required in small quantities for various bodily functions such as the formation of red blood cells and energy production. There are 13 vitamins that the body requires, eight of which make up the B-group (or B-complex) vitamins. These water-soluble vitamins are easily destroyed when cooking or processing food.

The B-group vitamins do not provide the body with fuel for energy, even though supplement advertisements often claim they do. It is true though that without B-group vitamins the body lacks energy. The body uses energy-yielding nutrients such as carbohydrates, fat and protein for fuel. The B-group vitamins help the body to use that fuel. Other B-group vitamins play necessary roles such as helping cells to multiply by making new DNA.

The body has a limited capacity to store most of the B-group vitamins except B12 and Folic Acid (folate) which are stored in the liver. A person who has a poor diet for a few months may end up with B-group vitamins deficiency. For this reason it is important that adequate amounts of these vitamins be eaten regularly as part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet. If planning a pregnancy, women should consider taking Folate supplements to reduce the risk of conditions such as Spina Bifida in the baby.

The Eight B-group Vitamins:
Thiamine - Riboflavin - Niacin - Pantothenic Acid - Biotin - Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - Folate (called folic acid in supplements) - Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Thiamin helps to convert glucose into energy and has a role in nerve function.
Good sources of thiamine – include wholemeal cereal grains, seeds (especially sesame seeds), legumes, wheat germ, nuts, yeast and pork. In Australia, it is mandatory that white and wholemeal flour used for bread is fortified with thiamine.
Thiamine deficiency – is generally found in countries where the dietary staple is white rice. Deficiencies in the Western world are generally caused by excessive alcohol intake and a very poor diet. Symptoms include confusion and irritability, poor arm or leg (or both) coordination, lethargy, fatigue and muscle weakness.

Riboflavin is primarily involved in energy production and helps vision and skin health.
Good sources of riboflavin – include milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, wholegrain breads and cereals, egg white, leafy green vegetables, meat, yeast, liver and kidney.
Riboflavin deficiency – is rare and is usually seen along with other B-group vitamin deficiencies. People at risk include those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol and those who do not consume milk or milk products. Symptoms include an inflamed tongue (painful, smooth, purple-red tongue), cracks and redness in the tongue and corners of the mouth, anxiety, inflamed eyelids and sensitivity to light, hair loss, reddening of the cornea and skin rash.

Niacin is essential for the body to convert carbohydrates, fat and alcohol into energy. It helps maintain skin health and supports the nervous and digestive systems. Unlike other B-group vitamins, niacin is very heat stable and little is lost in cooking.
Good sources of niacin – include meats, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, mushrooms and all protein-containing foods.
Excessive intake – large doses of niacin produce a drug-like effect on the nervous system and on blood fats. While favourable changes in blood fats are seen, side effects include flushing, itching, nausea and potential liver damage.
Niacin deficiency  – people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol or live on a diet almost exclusively based on corn are at risk of pellagra. The main symptoms of pellagra are commonly referred to as the three Ds – dementia, diarrhoea and dermatitis. Other symptoms include an inflamed and swollen tongue, irritability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, weakness and dizziness. This disease can lead to death if not treated.

Pantothenic Acid
Pantothenic acid is required to metabolise carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol as well as produce red blood cells and steroid hormones.
Good sources of pantothenic acid – are widespread and found in a range of foods, but some good sources include liver, milk, kidneys, eggs, meats, yeast, peanuts and legumes.
Pantothenic Acid deficiency – is extremely rare. Symptoms include loss of appetite, tiredness, fatigue and insomnia, constipation, vomiting and intestinal distress.

Biotin is required for energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism and glycogen synthesis. High biotin intake can contribute to elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Good sources of biotin – include cauliflower, egg yolks, peanuts, liver, chicken, yeast and mushrooms.
Biotin deficiency – biotin is widely distributed in foods and is only required in small quantities, so deficiency is very rare. Overconsumption of raw egg whites over periods of several months by bodybuilders for example can induce deficiency because a protein in the egg white inhibits biotin absorption. Symptoms include pale or grey skin, cracked sore tongue, depression, hallucination, abnormal heart actions, loss of appetite, nausea, dry skin and scaly dermatitis, hair loss, muscle pain, and weakness and fatigue.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine is required for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, the formation of red blood cells and certain brain chemicals. It influences brain processes and development, immune function and steroid hormone activity.
Good sources of pyridoxine – include cereal grains and legumes, green and leafy vegetables, fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, nuts, liver and fruit.
Excessive intake – can lead to harmful levels in the body that can damage nerves. Symptoms include walking difficulties and numbness in the hands and feet. Large doses of B6 taken over a long period can lead to irreversible nerve damage.
Pyridoxine deficiency – people who drink excessive alcohol, women (especially those on the contraceptive pill), the elderly and people with thyroid disease are at particular risk of deficiency. Symptoms include insomnia, depression, anaemia, smooth tongue and cracked corners of the mouth, irritability, muscle twitching, convulsions, confusion and dermatitis.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – there is some evidence that vitamin B6 may be useful in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and PMS. Seek advice from a doctor before using large doses of this supplement (above 100 mg per day) because of the danger of overdose and nerve damage.

Folate is required to form red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. It helps the development of the foetal nervous system, as well as DNA synthesis and cell growth. Women of child-bearing age need a diet rich in folate.
Good sources of folate – these include green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, liver, poultry, eggs, cereals and citrus fruits. From 2009, all flour used in bread making (except for flour to be used in breads listed as ‘organic’) has been fortified with folic acid.
Excessive intake – folate is generally considered non-toxic, although excessive intakes above 1,000 mg per day over a period of time can lead to malaise, irritability and intestinal dysfunction. The main risk with excessive folate intake is that it can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, so it is best to consume these two vitamins within the recommended amounts.
Folate deficiency – the symptoms include weight loss, tiredness, fatigue and weakness, folate-deficiency anaemia (megaloblastic anaemia) and (during pregnancy) an increased risk of a neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida for the baby.

If planning a pregnancy, you should consider taking supplements or eating fortified foods (vitamins added to processed food). Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and is used extensively in dietary supplements and food fortification.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
Vitamin B12 helps to produce and maintain the myelin surrounding nerve cells, mental ability, red blood cell formation and the breaking down of some fatty acids and amino acids to produce energy. Vitamin B12 has a close relationship with folate, as both depend on the other to work efficiently.
Good sources of B12 – include liver, meat, milk, cheese and eggs, almost anything of animal origin.
Vitamin B12 deficiency – this is most commonly found in the elderly, vegans (vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin) and breastfed babies of vegan mothers and is called pernicious anaemia. Symptoms include tiredness and fatigue, lack of appetite and weight loss, apathy and depression, anaemia, smooth tongue and degeneration of peripheral nerves progressing to paralysis.

Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12, while others cannot absorb enough to meet their requirements, no matter how much they take. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common. It is believed by the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that up to 20% of adults over age 45 may have a borderline deficiency.

There are many causes for vitamin B12 deficiency. Surprisingly, two of them are practices often undertaken to improve health: A vegetarian diet and weight-loss Surgery. Healthy Lifestyle Habits 

The only foods types that deliver B12 are from animal products. An animal product is any material derived from the body of an animal, for example: meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, etc. Strict vegetarians and vegans are at high risk from developing a B12 deficiency if they neglect to eat grains that have been fortified with the vitamin, or take a vitamin supplement. People who have stomach stapling or other forms of weight-loss surgery are also more likely to be low in vitamin B12 because certain weight-loss processes interfere with the body’s ability to extract or absorb vitamin B12 from the consumed food.

Conditions that interfere with food absorption, such celiac or Crohn’s disease, can cause B12 deficiency. So can the use of commonly prescribed heartburn drugs, that reduce acid production in the stomach (acid is required to absorb vitamin B12). The condition is more likely to occur in older people due to the cutback in stomach acid production that often occurs with aging. Poor diet is the concern with young to middle aged people leading to digestive disorders.

Recognizing a B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time. It can also come on relatively quick. Given the array of symptoms it can cause, the condition is often overlooked or confused with something else.

While an experienced physician may be able to detect a vitamin B12 deficiency with a good interview and physical examination, a blood test is required to confirm the condition. Early detection and treatment is important. If left untreated, the deficiency can cause severe neurologic problems and blood diseases. Vitamin B12 deficiency is so easily overlooked that the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has a course for physicians called “Why Vitamin B12 Deficiency Should Be on Your Radar Screen.”

A serious vitamin B12 deficiency can be corrected two ways: weekly shots of vitamin B12 or daily high-dose B12 capsules. A mild B12 deficiency can be corrected with a standard multivitamin. Usually a vitamin B12 deficiency can be prevented. If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to eat breads, cereals, or other grains that have been fortified with vitamin B12, or take a daily supplement.

A standard multivitamin delivers 6 micrograms, more than enough to cover the average body’s daily need. If you are over age 45, the Institute of Medicine recommends that you get extra B12 from a supplement, since you may not be able to absorb enough of the vitamin through foods. A standard multivitamin should do the trick. It’s best to get enough vitamin B12 to prevent a deficiency, and not look to it as a remedy for what ails you.

Even if you take supplements, be sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and work at keeping your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar in good control. The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of B group vitamins in regards to your health. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.