Dr. Andrew Weil’s Guide to B Vitamins

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Dr. Andrew Weils Guide to Essential B Vitamins

Owing to their importance in our body’s functioning and growth, Dr. Andrew Weil discusses everything about B vitamins. This class of vitamins are water-soluble nutrients that play a very crucial role in supporting body’s metabolic and physiologic functions. In total, there are eight different B vitamins that are together referred to as B-complex. All these different B vitamins are unique, but their functions are closely inter-related. Another reason why you should be conscious about your B vitamins intake is that the body doesn’t store these essential nutrients. The need for these vitamins is elevated by smoking, stress, use of drugs and alcohol, substance abuse, unhealthy dietary choices, shift work, chronic or infectious illness, and hectic daily schedules.

The B vitamins play crucial roles in body’s energy production, the bio-synthesis and repair of both DNA and RNA, and metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They are also essential in maintaining a healthy and calm nervous system. These can also help in achieving a healthy muscle tone and a youthful skin. Dr. Weil discusses the sources, dosages, benefits, and side-effects of B vitamins.

Types of Vitamin B and Their Functions

The different types of vitamin B are:

  • Vitamin B1 or Thiamin: It helps in normal adrenal functioning, calming and maintaining a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for all important metabolic processes.
  • Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin: It acts as a potential antioxidant, prevents cancer and prohibits cholesterol buildup by combating free radicals.
  • Vitamin B3 or Niacin: It reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and reduces cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol in the body. Niacin might also reduce symptoms of asthma.
  • Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid: It helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Vitamin B5 is important for maintaining a healthy skin and is utilized in the synthesis of an enzyme known as coenzyme-A (CoA) which is primarily involved in break-down of fats.
  • Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine: It helps in the production of brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals allow the brain and nerve cells to effectively communicate with one another.
  • Vitamin B7 or Biotin: It helps in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails, decreasing body’s insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance. Biotin also prevents birth defects in babies.
  • Vitamin B9 or Folic acid: It is vital for body’s growth and development. Also supports nerve and brain functioning.
  • Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin: It helps in the synthesis and maintenance of RBCs or red blood cells and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 supports normal myelination of the nerve cells. It also promotes the synthesis of RNA, DNA, and neurotransmitters.

Vitamin B Natural Food Sources

Poultry, fish, liver, eggs and shellfish are important sources of B vitamins. Meat and other animal derived foods are also rich in B vitamins. For example, Vitamin B12 is only found in animal-derived foods. Plant sources of these essential B vitamins include potatoes, whole grains, lentils and beans. Green leafy vegetables are significantly rich in vitamin B9 which is also known as folate. Foods like eggs, leafy greens and pork contain vitamin B7 commonly known as biotin, but in small amounts.

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The B vitamins play crucial roles in body’s energy production, the bio-synthesis and repair of both DNA and RNA, and metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They are also essential in maintaining a healthy and calm nervous system. These can also help in achieving a healthy muscle tone and a youthful skin. Dr. Weil discusses the sources, dosages, benefits, and side-effects of B vitamins.

Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency

People from even developed countries can develop vitamin B deficiency. This deficiency can result into several deficiency symptoms or even diseases. Deficiency of vitamin B6 can cause swelling of the tongue and depression. Whereas, deficiency of vitamin B12 can result into a type of anemia, cognitive impairment, fatigue and memory problems. If you have prolonged deficiency of biotin in your body, you will experience hair loss, brittle nails, fatigue and dry skin.

Consumption of Too Much Vitamin B

Generally, all the B vitamins are eliminated from our system through urine, but if a person consumes more than daily recommended dose, it can pose several health threats or even result in cancer. High doses of vitamin B3 are recommended to people suffering from high level of cholesterol. They are advised to consume around two to three grams Vitamin B3 or niacin each day. Yet this amount of vitamin B3 can cause jaundice, nausea and elevated enzymes in liver. Good news is that these symptoms will disappear once you discontinue consuming this extra dose of vitamin B3. Consumption of too much vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) can be extremely dangerous resulting in nerve damage, tingling or numbness. The daily recommended dosage of vitamin B6 is 100 mg. Several findings have revealed that men who consume more than daily recommended dosage of vitamin B6 are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. This is even more true for the males who smoke.

Choosing Vitamin B Supplements

There is no special need to choose whole vitamin B-complex supplement or to take them separately by consuming special supplements apart from your daily multivitamin or mutlimineral capsule. That mutimineral/multivitamin tablet you are consuming would generally cover all the B vitamins. In certain cases, you might be advised to take a B vitamins supplement separately. Vitamin B12 can be recommended for people who regularly use acid-controlling drugs such as proton-pump inhibitors or H-2 blockers and those suffering from type-2 diabetes. Dr. Weil suggests consulting your doctor before beginning any kind of supplements for your daily B vitamins requirement.

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