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Protective Benefits of B Vitamins
There are 7 different types of B vitamins. B vitamins work synergistically to assist the body to metabolize food. All B vitamins are water-soluble which means they dissolve easily in water, are not stored in the body, and excess is eliminated from the body. Because we cannot store B vitamins very well it is important for us to get a daily supply. The main functions of B vitamins are their ability to release energy from food, enhance nervous system function, assist in the formation of hemoglobin which are in red blood cells, move oxygen around the body, assist in the breakdown of fat and help us stay hydrated.
In addition to all B vitamins being water-soluble, all B vitamins have another thing in common which is their role in generating and distributing vital energy. Think about it, there needs to be a mechanism for our bodies to efficiently extract energy from our food, a nervous system to distribute the energy throughout the body, and cellular respiration which uses oxygen to break down sugar and energy-rich fat.
Here is some healthy information to assist you in better understanding B vitamins and their role in a healthier, active, and energetic life.
- Always hungry and not feeling full after a meal? Thiamin (vitamin B1) works with the neurotransmitters in your brain to regulate appetite. It triggers the brain to produce hunger and satiation. Thiamine also assists in nerve cell structure and function. The outer layer of the approximate 86 billion neurons in the human brain all have vitamin B1, as well as all your nerves and neurotransmitters.
- Synergistic effects of B vitamins. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) serves as a precursor to enzymes known as flavin mononucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide needed for energy metabolism of fats and carbohydrates in your cells. Riboflavin is also involved in converting tryptophan to niacin, another B vitamin, and it is needed to activate yet another B vitamin known as vitamin B-6. Maintaining a healthy gut flora is a great way to produce your own riboflavin as it is produced by intestinal bacteria.
- B vitamins enhance energy production which assists the body to get moving and burn excess calories. Niacin (vitamin B3) is most widely known to support healthy cholesterol levels by improving HDL levels, reducing triglycerides and blood sugar levels which in turn serves as a part of optimizing cardiovascular health. B vitamins enhance the potential of energy production leading to increased physical activity and therefore play a part in increasing healthy HDL and LDL ratios while reducing excess triglycerides and blood sugar levels which contribute to weight gain and other serious chronic inflammatory conditions. Movement is the key to a healthy body.
- Do you have dry, scaly, itchy skin? Pantothenic acid is a B vitamin known as the great hydrator. It is a humectant which is a water-binding substance that attracts and retains water. Pantothenic acid not only helps keep you hydrated but it also prevents loss of water through the skin. It helps keep our skin looking healthy, soft, and elastic. There is a simple hydration test you can do. Simply pinch the skin at the back of your hand and then release it. If the skin snaps back to a relaxed flat position then you are well hydrated, if it slowly returns to its normal position then you are likely dehydrated.
- Is “the pain in your neck” becoming the actual pain in your neck? Vitamin B6 is essential for neurotransmitter and myelin formation which produces optimal nerve function. Myelin is the protective covering over all of our nerves which are responsible for the transmission of nerve signals. B6 deficiency may be linked to people who have hypothyroidism. Studies have shown that prolonged stress triggering high cortisol can have an impact on nerve function leading to pain. It is important to manage day to day stress to enhance optimal nerve function. Something as simple as building resiliency through the practice of gratefulness and acceptance can go a long way in preserving optimal nerve function.
- Who knew one vitamin could play so many roles? Like other B vitamins Biotin (vitamin B7) promotes macro-nutrients otherwise known as food into energy. It is also beneficial for promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails. Yet another significant role Biotin plays in the body is DNA formation which promotes genetic information to work normally. Our cells divide throughout our lives through a process called mitosis. An interesting fact is that when mitosis is accelerated it causes premature aging otherwise known as an increased functional age. Increased functional age means that while a person is 53, their functional age is 64. Reducing chronic inflammation through eating a balanced whole food diet, regular physical exercise, managing day to day stress-reducing toxicity in the body are all great ways to maximize cellular health.
- Did you know that your body produces approximately 65 million red blood cells for every 10 pounds of weight each day of your life? This daily process requires a steady supply of folate, iron, and another B vitamin known as B12. Once folic acid is absorbed into your body the inactive folic acid is converted into folate for bioabsorption. Folate is a cofactor involved in many metabolic processes such as the production of red blood cells that would not otherwise be possible without it. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for this incredible life-giving metabolic process.
- Last but certainly not least let’s talk about the importance of vitamin B12. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, if you do not get enough B12 you may experience tiredness, weakness, constipation, unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, imbalance, confusion, memory loss and even problems with oral health such as sore tongue and mouth. (1)
Paul Bernitt, DHH
Director of Trivita Clinic of Integrative Medicine
With more than 25 years in healthcare, Paul has effectively managed nursing homes, independent physician groups, and large hospital medical groups. He has operated his own multi-state company providing preventative cardiovascular testing and lifestyle coaching to 150 doctor’s offices.
Paul is a passionate advocate for prevention, early detection, and reversal of lifestyle-related diseases, and brings extensive healthcare education, experience, and leadership to his role as the Director of TriVita Clinic of Integrative Medicine.