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Importance of Vitamin B Complex for Health and Energy

Slow roasted belly pork with fennel salad and citrus jam - d'Arry's Verandah AUD29Many of us are taking vitamin and mineral supplements to insure overall good health.  This is a good idea but should not be utilized to try to make up for poor dietary choices.  We need to consume a wide variety of whole foods to insure our bodies receive the nutrients necessary for optimal functioning.
One family of vitamins, the B family, are very important supporting nutrients interacting with enzymes throughout the body and necessary for maintaining our nerves, skin, hair, eyes, liver, muscles, digestion, and oral health.  The B-vitamins work together and it is important to understand that it is best to take as a B-complex formula.  Here are the Bs and what each of them do for health.
B1 (Thiamin) for energy production, mental health, and digestion.  When low, muscle weakness, leg tingles, Alzheimer’s connection, fatigue, mood swings, depression.
B2 (Riboflavin) for energy production, digestion, tissue repair, immune support, and eye health.  If low, anemia, skin lesions, eye problems, sore throat, cracks at side of mouth, tongue pain.  Hypothyroidism, acute diabetes, and alcoholism reduces B2 levels.
B3 (Niacin) helps transfer energy, supports digestion, lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides, aids cardiovascular health, supports nerve tissue, and studies have shown it is important for cancer protection.  When low leads to skin disorders, dementia, diarrhea.
B5 (Pantothenic acid) for energy production, formation of brain neurotransmitters, synthesis of fats.  When low cramping, burning sensations in the feet, digestive disruptions, hypoglycemia, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia.
B6 (Pyridoxine) supports amino acid metabolism, utilization of oxygen in blood, supports immune system and brain function with the production of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain), and for women’s health related to reproduction.  When low, depression, confusion, fatigue, headache, stomachache, asthma.
B12 (Cobalamin) supports blood formation, cardiovascular health, nerve health, cancer prevention.  When low, confusion, moodiness, memory loss, peripheral neuritis, and depression may be experienced.  Methylcobalamin is the best form of B12 to take as it is easily metabolized by the body.
Folate.  This vitamin works closely with B12 and is important for the synthesis of DNA and nerve function, formation of healthy red blood cells, and helps lower homocysteine (a naturally occurring chemical in the body, but high levels increase cardiovascular disease risk.  Also important, folate (folic acid) is important in reducing certain cancers such as cervical cancer, colon cancer, and ulcerative colitis.
Biotin.  Helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  When low, skin challenges, hair loss, nausea, numbness, appetite loss, depression, restless legs, tremors, memory loss, and disorientation.
Other nutrients considered part of the B-vitamin family are choline, inositol, and PABA.  These are made in our bodies and are not considered as essential to ingest through foods.
Good food sources for B-vitamins include liver from beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, dried beans, peas, whole grains, dark leafy greens, wheat germ, eggs, cheese, yogurt, poultry, fish like salmon and herring, avocados, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, nuts like walnuts, brewer’s yeast, and seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  B12 is obtained from meats so vegetarians most often need to supplement B12 to ingest appropriate amounts for health.
As you can see from the food list, important B-vitamins are obtained from many of the foods we already consume.  Designing your diet to include a wide variety of these foods will insure you get adequate amounts.  If any particular condition continues to exist, additional supplementation of a particular B-vitamin may be important to consider.  As with all health related considerations, discuss your nutrient needs with your health care provider or holistic nutritionist.  Nutrient level tests can be taken to determine any deficiencies.
Krystle Shapiro, MSHN, owns NewTritionally Yours! providing nutrition education classes.  Next class begins February 4th.  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

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