Allison Tannis, RHN
Whats a B-complex? Well, its not a condominium for honey beesalthough that would make one particular honey-loving bear very happy. A B-complex is a supplement containing a combination of B vitamins. Luckily, discovering the healthy benefits of these Bs is not complex, and understanding them offers a sweet reward.
What’s a B-complex? Well, it’s not a condominium for honey bees–although that would make one particular honey-loving bear very happy. A B-complex is a supplement containing a combination of B vitamins. Luckily, discovering the healthy benefits of these Bs is not complex, and understanding them offers a sweet reward.
A B-complex supplement commonly includes thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), inositol, folic acid or folate (B9), para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), and cobalamin (vitamin B12). All of these nutrients are considered to be part of the B family and all of them are important to the health of your body. Let’s look into these nutrients and see how they can help us live healthier.
B a Free-Radical Fighter
An antioxidant is a compound that can prevent the damaging effects of oxidation, which can lead to disease-initiating conditions. Antioxidants are thought to play a role in the prevention of most diseases. Vitamin B1 is known for its antioxidant properties, making it beneficial to cognitive function and heart health; it prevents lipid peroxidation, which promotes atherosclerosis. Vitamin B5 is traditionally known for its antioxidant and wound-healing abilities.
However, we saved the best for last. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a personal favourite for its ability to assist in the production of glutathione, the major antioxidant enzyme in the body. Glutathione is an important factor in your body’s health, as it enhances antioxidant activities and therefore reduces the risk of many diseases, including cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
B Good to Your Heart
Many B vitamins play a part in heart health. Perhaps the best known are vitamins B6, B9, and B12. This trio of B vitamins is vital to the health of your cardiovascular system. These vitamins are cofactors for homocysteine metabolism. (A cofactor is like a key that opens doors to keep a process moving.) Homocysteine is an amino acid that can interfere with proper functioning of the cells that line blood vessels and increase oxidative stress. These two effects lead to an unhealthy cardiovascular system. In fact, the condition known as hyperhomocysteinemia (elevated levels of homocysteine) is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke. Ensuring that your body contains sufficient amounts of vitamins B6, B9, and B12 keeps the doors of homocysteine metabolism open and prevents a buildup of homocysteine in the body. Keep your cardiovascular system healthy with these three Bs.
There is another heart disease risk factor that is inhibited by the power of the Bs. Low levels of vitamin B6 in the body are associated with elevated levels of c-reactive protein (associated with poor cardiovascular health), so vitamin B6 is doubly important to cardiovascular health.
Niacin (B3) is another B vitamin important to our hearts. Niacin is involved in many aspects of the body; however, it is mostly known for its anti-hyperlipidemic activity (reducing excess lipids in the blood). Niacin is therefore successfully used to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine (April 2004).
Folate (B9) is not only a key that promotes healthy homocysteine levels, it is also an antioxidant. Its ability to prevent oxidation and reduce homocysteine levels, thus inhibiting the development of atherosclerotic plaques, likely explains why folate is thought to be important in the prevention of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and poor cognitive function.
The structure of the brain is supported by vitamin B12, which is vital to the production of myelin and prevents damage to the nerve axons in the brain. Communication, or neurotransmission, in the brain is very important. Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These are all important to proper brain functioning. Vitamin B6 is also used to treat premenstrual symptoms, morning sickness, and depression during pregnancy.
It’s not complex. A B-complex is simple. B-vitamins play an important role in the everyday functioning of our bodies. Reap the sweet benefits of B-vitamins and “B” healthy.
|RDA for B-Complex Vitamins|
|Thiamin (B1)||1.2 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||1.3 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||16 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||5 mg|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||1.3-1.7 mg|
|Folic Acid (B9)||400 mcg|