Our central nervous system relies on the nutrients provided through healthy and diverse diet. Good nutrition is important, especially for maintenance of normal cognitive function and brain’s structure. For maintenance of normal cognitive processes in the brain, vitamin and micronutrients play imperative biochemical role. The role of B vitamins contained in food and relationship between them and our general health and cognitive process should be one of the most important things that we should care for through our diet and healthy lifestyle.
B group vitamins are found in various foods such as whole grains, beans, meats, bananas. Folate/folic acid, B6 and B12 represent some of the B group vitamins.
The benefits of B vitamins are great as they can ease stress, aid memory, relieve PMS, reduce heart-disease risk and treat anxiety and depression.
There are 11 components to what is known as the vitamin B complex and are all extremely important for all things mind related: our mood, memory or even migraines can benefit from taking these vitamins. When taken in the right amount, vitamin B complex can ease anxiety, improve depression symptoms and boost your energy. In order for a person to obtain right amount of B vitamins it is necessary to eat diet rich in B vitamins foods. Such diet consists of dark green vegetables, protein and animal sources and whole grains. The B vitamins are all chemically related and work together as a team. Their mood improving and other health benefits show how closely correlated they are and that one cannot function properly without the other.
Some of the B vitamins help body cells burn fats and glucose for energy. Others help make neurotransmitters such as serotonin. And some of vitamin B’s aid in production and repair of DNA.
According to research data many of us do not get enough vitamin B’s. People are mostly deficient in folic acid, B12 and B6. If person’s stress levels are high or if the diet is low in vitamin B’s, it would be a good idea to either enrich your diet or start taking supplements such as Vitamin B Complex.
As said previously, B vitamins complex consists of various vitamins. The dosage ranges below are commonly used for prevention and treatment of specific conditions. If taking vitamin B’s for medicinal use, please refer to your physician first. In order to benefit from any of the vitamin B’s, we need all of them. We should start with B-complex supplement that contains all 11 vitamins. They are best taken with food as they can cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach or early in the day. Also, vitamin B6 increases neurotransmitter activity so if taken late in the day it can lead to increased dreaming which can result in restless night’s sleep.
Different brands of vitamin B complex supplements have different potency so it is important to look at first at the amounts of vitamins B1 and B2. Low potency supplement would have B1 at 1.5 mg and B2 at 1.76 mg. Moderate potency supplements have 10-25 mg of each vitamins B1 and B2. High potency supplements which are often called B-50 contain 40-50 mg of B1 and B2. Very high potency supplements or B-100 contain 100 mg of B1 and B2. Studies have shown that high potency supplements should not be used by most people.
In order to use appropriate dosage, person should look first into their diet, health issues and stress level. If unsure, it would be the best to discuss it with a physician.
If a person has generally good health and sound diet and is under 30 years of age, they should stick with low potency supplement. If taking a multivitamin, check to see if vitamin B’s are present in it as excess may not be required. If a person is over 30 years of age, they should consider taking a moderate potency supplement as person’s ability to process nutrients, especially B12 can decrease as we age and moderate potency supplement can offset many conditions that are age related.
If a person deals consistently with high stress situations, either at work or at home, it would be good to try a moderate potency B-complex supplement.
If a person suffers from chronic anxiety and or depression, a high potency supplement should be considered along with extra inositol. Some studies have shown that very high doses of this B vitamin are helpful in quelling depression and anxiety. It would be the best to discuss with the physician which dose of inositol would be the best, 3-4 grams may be enough if taken along B complex supplement. A Finnish study found that people that had higher levels of vitamin B12 in their blood responded better to antidepressant medication.
If a person is a vegetarian or vegan it would be the best to check with the doctor levels of vitamin B12 in the blood. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal protein so vegetarian or vegan diet would benefit mostly from moderate potency supplement along with extra 100-500 mcg of B12 daily. At the high risk of deficiency are people that vegan diet, that is no meat or dairy products.
Many over the counter medication or prescription drugs interfere with the absorption of some B vitamins. For example, all medications for heartburn and reflux disease including over the counter antacids, oral antibiotics and oral contraceptives. B1 vitamin can be depleted by diuretics drugs and the drug Glucophage that lowers blood sugar decreases folic acid and B12 levels in the blood.
Frequent alcohol use depletes several vitamin B’s, particularly vitamin B1 and B3. If a person drinks on average more than two drinks a day they should aim for moderate or high potency supplement.
And last but not the least, vitamin B2 turns urine bright yellow which is not harmful. Water soluble vitamin B’s are very safe although there are couple of precautions. Very high doses of niacin, used under a doctor’s supervision to control cholesterol may cause liver damage and flushing. In addition, vitamin B6 should not be exceeded over 200 mg per day as prolonged high doses of it can cause nerve damage.
The best source of B vitamins is healthy and varied diet that includes animal proteins such as fish, chicken, or liver. Leafy green vegetables and legumes are rich in folic acid as animal proteins have lower percentage of it.
Foods that contain high amounts of B vitamins are brown rice, spinach, black beans, whole grain flour and wild coho salmon.
Refer to the chart below for 11 components of vitamin B complex and important role of each one for our body:
Requirements increase with diets high in carbs and sugars. Deficiency may lead to loss of appetite; digestive disorders; chronic depression; and nervous exhaustion
Higher doses shown to reduce migraine headaches. Necessary for the maintenance of good vision,skin, nails and hair.
Helps increase energy; needed for DNA repair; niacin form can cause flushing. Some of the deficiency symptoms of B3 are irritability,nervousness, forgetfulness, insomnia, chronic headaches. Severe prolonged deficiency may cause mental disturbances, depression, mental dullness, disorientation, and mental disease.
Needed for neurotransmitters, such as serotonin; may relieve PMS. Deficiency symptoms are; nervousness, eczema, insomnia,irritability, migraine
Speeds wound healing; high doses of pantethine form can reduce cholesterol levels
Folic Acid (B9)
Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, and birth defects; colon-cancer prevention
May improve memory and reverse mental fogginess. Deficiency may cause,chronic fatigue, sore mouth, feelings of numbness or stiffness, loss of mental energy, difficulty in concentrating.
High dosages, combined with chromium, improve blood-sugar control. Deficiency may cause eczema, dandruff, hair loss, skin disorders, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, confusion, mental depression,, drowsiness, and hallucinations.
Needed for normal brain and memory function
Helpful for depression and anxiety attacks
Para-Amino Benzoic Acid (PABA)
One of the few nutrients beneficial in scleroderma, a connective-tissue disease