Facts V.2 Pt.2 - B Vitamins
My friends! Welcome back to Part 2 on B Vitamins.
Now that you have a pretty good handle on all the different variations out there, we’re going to dive into where you can find them, potential causes for deficiencies and benefits of supplementation. If you missed last weeks article, check it out (HERE - Link to last week)
Before we start, you know I’ve got to remind you, nothing beats a balanced diet full of nutritious Whole Foods. You can’t eat like Shit and expect to supplement your way to good health. So if that’s what you were thinking, start by clicking (HERE - link to coaching call) to learn how to balance your diet first.
Back to the B’s, part of the puzzle in making sure the body’s cells are functioning optimally! These guys help your body convert food to energy, maintain cellular health for your skin and brain and create new blood cells. So basically, if you want to survive, get your B’s in.
We’re gonna break them down 1 by 1 again, but keep in mind they’re often present in the same foods. So keep an eye on repetition, and maybe add some of these items to your next grocery list (or online order). As always, please consult with a physician before adding any supplement to your daily regimen.
Leading off, Thiamine, involved heavily in glucose production. Deficiency is not too common, outside of high blood sugar and/or alcoholism. However, deficiency can also present in those with heart failure or if you’ve had bariatric surgery. Some symptoms of deficiency include loss of appetite, weight loss (not the good kind), confusion, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, as well as poor reflexes. While the recommended daily amount is only about 1.2mg for adults, and 1.4mg if pregnant or breastfeeding, doses generally range from 100-300mg. If you are supplementing, dose timing doesn’t matter much, and it can be taken with or without food. While more research needs to be done, some studies suggest that 100mg of B1 daily dramatically reduces the symptoms of PMS, and the improvement was additive with the inclusion of calcium.
But, before you reach for a bottle of pills, try some of these:
Cereal, pasta and rice (See! Carbs aren’t that bad after all!)
Pork (See! Bacon is ok sometimes, too!)
Nuts & seeds
Next up is Riboflavin. B2 helps a number of enzymes in the body function normally, and also helps with B3 production and B6 optimization. Found in organ meats, oatmeal, yogurt and milk, mushrooms and almonds, B2 is bountiful and rarely requires supplementation. Signs of deficiency include skin disorders, mouth sores, hair loss and red, itchy eyes. Severe deficiencies can lead to anemia, cataracts and even increase the risk for certain birth defects. The recommended daily amount for supplementation is between 1 -2mg (1.6mg for pregnancy and breastfeeding), and it’s fine to take on an empty stomach.
So who could stand to benefit from supplementation? Well some people may suffer from abnormally elevated homocysteine levels due to defects in folate metabolism. There is some evidence to suggest that B2 supplementation, at 4mg per day, can help to lower blood pressure and homocysteine in these cases. In addition, someone who is on iron repletion therapy for anemia could benefit from riboflavin aiding the utility of supplemental iron. Furthermore, supplementation of around 400mg, in divided doses, with food, has also shown some positive benefits in reducing the severity of migraines. Finally, if you do not consume animal or dairy products you have the potential for riboflavin deficiency.
Niacin is next on the list. Niacin has shown definitive benefits on cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is very well regarded in it’s ability to raise HDL-C levels. However, there is a major side effect of supplementation, insulin resistance. Therefore, it is important to consult with a physician to weigh out the risks and the benefits before taking it. Interestingly, the topical application of a Niacin as 4% nicotinamide has been shown to actually work better than clindamycin for the treatment of acne in oily skin. The theory also exists suggesting that niacin could benefit cognition and longevity. Though, again, prolonged use can lead to an inability of insulin to suppress glucose synthesis in the liver. It is recommended at doses between 16-18mgs per day, but benefits are most commonly observed at around 1 gram. There is a risk of overdose, leading to multiple organ failure, so again please consult a physician first.
People at the highest risk for Niacin deficiency include those who are malnourished or anorexic, consume excessive amounts of alcohol or have inflammatory bowel disease. Too little niacin can lead to a condition called pellagra. Someone suffering from pellagra will exhibit skin discoloration or patches, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue and/or depression. All things you want to do your best to avoid, so look to meat, poultry and fish for high concentrations of niacin that the body can actually use. Nuts, legumes and grains do contain a natural form of niacin, but it’s just not as easy to use. Lately, though, niacin is being added to many manufactured foods, such as cereal, in a form the body can easily use.
Vitamin B5, also known as Pantothenic acid, is up next. This little number is the key to the formation of CO-enzyme A, which is necessary for the body to produce energy in general. Good news, though. It is quite rare for someone to actually be deficient, and supplementation doesn’t really provide many benefits. Adequate intake for adults is between 5 and 7 mg. However, there is no known upper tolerability limit. Again, there is almost no need for actual supplementation here, as it is so prevalent in a standard diet. The highest concentrations of B5 are typically found in beef liver, shiitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, tuna and avocados (Pay the extra charge!).
By now you are probably starting to see a trend. At the very least, this should help you decide whether or not that B vitamin is worth adding to the cart or not. Hopefully, it’s helping you realize how important good food choices are in keeping your body functioning optimally.
We’ll leave it there for this week, as it’s a lot to digest (get it? Food puns haha). Next week we’ll cover the last four B vitamins, inputting a nice bow on the whole B vitamin debate. Stay tuned for more…