You know that taking care of your heart will help you live a long, healthy life. So you don’t smoke, and you watch your cholesterol level. But did you know that a deficiency of vitamin B6 can raise your risk of heart disease as much as smoking or high cholesterol? Evidence also indicates that 40 percent of heart attacks and strokes suffered by American men may be caused by deficiency of folic acid, another important B vitamin.
When scientists first discovered the mysterious food factors they called vitamins, they began by naming the first one fat soluble A and the second water soluble B (and then C, D, and so on). Later, researchers found that vitamin B wasn’t just one simple vitamin. There’s a whole complex of substances, like an apartment complex, under the vitamin B roof. Each unit in building B has a lot of common features, but unit 6 has its own unique properties.
Although the B vitamins are separate substances, they often work together. It is very unusual to have a deficiency of just one B vitamin. For example, you body requires folic acid in order to absorb the other B vitamins. A deficiency of folic acid could quickly lead to deficiency in the other B vitamins as well because each contributes in its own way to you good health. Look at this quick rundown of the different B vitamins, and you’ll see how they function together and perform many of the same duties in your body to help keep you young.
The leader of the pack is thiamine, the first B vitamin to be discovered and named. A deficiency of thiamine is responsible for beriberi, a disease that can cause symptoms ranging from weakness to mental disturbances. Thiamine is essential for turning protein, fat, and carbohydrates into energy. It’s also needed to make copies of DNA whenever cells divide, helping assure proper growth and maintenance of healthy skin. Thiamine is also necessary for nerve signals to travel, carrying important information to your brain from different parts of your body.
A deficiency of niacin can cause pellagra, which means “rough skin.” Symptoms include red scaly skin; swollen, red tongue; diarrhea; and mental disturbances. Niacin is required for turning protein into energy and making DNA, fatty acids, and cholesterol. Your body can manufacture niacin from tryptophan, which is an amino acid (a component of protein). In fact, niacin deficiency can often be corrected just by increasing the amount of protein in your diet.
Do you want healthy, young looking skin? Without adequate riboflavin, your skin may become dry, itchy, and flaky. Riboflavin is essential for healthy skin, eyes, and blood. It is needed to break down fat for energy in your body and for the synthesis of blood cells, glycogen (a storage form of glucose), and corticosteroids (steroid hormones secreted by the adrenal gland). It also helps convert tryptophan to niacin.
PANTOTHENIC ACID (B5)
Have you been ill recently, or just emotionally upset? If so, make sure you get enough pantothenic acid. Vitamin B5 has been called the anti-stress vitamin. It is needed to keep your adrenal gland healthy and functioning properly, which is critical during times of stress. It also helps stimulate antibody production, which can help fight off illness, and is necessary in the production of red blood cells, brain chemicals, and cholesterol.
Folic acid has become a bit of a celebrity in the vitamin world lately. Evidence that it helps fight heart disease has been published not only in medical journals but in national magazines and newspapers as well. Another big health news story was the decision of the U. S. government to begin the fortifying foods with folic acid to help prevent birth defects. What other jobs does this media darling perform to make it popular? It helps make protein and red blood cells, it is vital for cell division, and it removes fat stored in your liver.
vitamin B12 works along with folic acid to make red blood cells. A deficiency of B12 can cause a pernicious anemia, an energy sapping disease that is difficult to diagnose. Vitamin B12 protects nerves from damage by helping to produce their protective coverings. A deficiency of B12 can eventually lead to severe nerve damage, even paralysis.
Bacteria in your body are a bad thing, right? Not necessary. Some good bacteria in your intestines are responsible for producing biotin, but your supply of these bacteria can be depleted by taking antibiotics. You don’t want to come up short of biotin because it plays an important role in energy metabolism, growth, and the production of fatty acids and digestive enzymes. Biotin which displays insulin like activity in lowering blood sugar, is also found in certain foods.
Vitamin B6 is one of the busiest vitamins in your body. It helps your body use protein, fatty acids, and glycogen effectively, and it helps produce brain chemicals and hemoglobin portion of your blood cells. A deficiency of B6 can cause skin problems like dermatitis (itchy, red skin) and acne. A deficiency can also cause mouth sores, nerve damage, and even seizures.
8 WAYS B VITAMINS FIGHT AGING
1. HEART HELPER
If you want to live a long , healthy life, you must keep your heart healthy. The U. S. government recognized the heart – healing potential of B vitamin and approved a plan to fortify grain products with folic acid. Experts estimate that 50,000 fewer Americans would die from heart attacks each year and many serious birth defects would be prevented as a result of folic acid fortification.
Why is folic acid so important to your heart health? It’s because of an amino acid in your blood called homocysteine. Researchers began to make connection between homocysteine and heart disease when it was observed that people with very high homocysteine levels (due to a genetic disorder) often died from severe heart disease in their teens and 20s.
Doctors have been baffled for years by certain heart disease deaths. You know…the person who eats right, doesn’t smoke, gets plenty of exercise, appears to have no heart disease symptoms, and yet keels over at 45. Medical researchers were excited to discover that homocysteine might provide a possible explanation for those mysterious deaths. Even more exciting is the fact that those deaths may be prevented.
That’s were folic acid comes in, along with its B – vitamin brothers, B6 and B12. This trio of vitamins work in your blood to convert homocysteine to a less dangerous substance.Advertisements
Why is homocysteine so dangerous? In normal amounts, it isn’t, but an excess can damage your arteries, causing a buildup of plaque that can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Homocysteine is made from another amino acid, methionine, during the process of metabolism. Afterwards, it should be turned back into methionine. The catch is that it needs B vitamins, especially folic acid, to be converted back to its original form. If you don’t have enough B vitamins to do the job, homocysteine can build up to dangerous levels.
Because homocysteine is a by – product of protein metabolism, people who eat high protein diets should take special care to get enough B vitamins.
2. STRIKES DOWN STROKE
High homocysteine levels are the life – shortening culprits in more than just heart disease. The damage that too much homocysteine does to blood vessel walls can cause buildups that may form blood clots. If one of those clots loose, it could travel to your brain, causing a stroke.
3. BETTER BRAIN FUNCTION
According to Leo Rosenberg, “First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull you zipper down.”
The ability to laugh at yourself is a wonderful trait. However, that may be hard to do when your previously sharp-as-a-tack mind refuses to tell you where you left your car keys or, worse, you forget something important, like where you live or what your name is. Sometimes this loss of mental ability is considered just a normal and unavoidable part of aging, but researchers are finding that proper nutrition can help prevent loss of brain function. Several different B vitamins can help keep your mind and your wit as razor sharp as they were in your youth.
Older people who have low levels of B12 often have symptoms resembling Alzheimer’s or other forms of mental disturbances. People can have memory problems due to low levels of B12 long before they are deficient enough to suffer pernicious anemia. One study found that among people who already had pernicious anemia, 71 percent had short-term memory loss. Treatment with B12 restored the memories of most of the study participants within 10 to 27 days.
The severe memory loss that often accompanies beriberi is appropriately called “beriberi amnesia.” This memory loss is reversible when thiamine is given. Thiamine levels tend to be very low in people with mental illness. In fact psychiatrists treat many of their patients with thiamine supplement, as well as other B vitamins.
Vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin is known as a “feel good” chemical, and low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression.
A deficiency of folic acid may cause mental and emotional problems, including depression and schizophrenia.
4. CONTROLS CHOLESTEROL
Did you know that doctors sometimes prescribe niacin to help lower cholesterol? Niacin effectively reduces both bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood and raises the good cholesterol. However, high doses of niacin may cause side effects like flushing, rash, and abdominal pain. Doctors have found that lower doses (1.5 to 3 grams daily) can be affective without the side effects of high doses. Of course, even these lower doses are proscription strength, and you shouldn’t take niacin to lower your cholesterol without your doctor’s consent. You may never need a prescription drug for high cholesterol if you get plenty of niacin in your diet.
5. HELP BEAT BONE PAIN
People with arthritis who are prescribed the drug methotrexate may have insult added to injury when they have to deal with side effects. However, researchers recently discovered that most of these side effects occur because the drug causes a deficiency of folic acid. Adding extra folic acid to your diet could help you avoid the pain of arthritis, as well as the side effects of your arthritis drug.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually though of as a bone ailment, but the pain is actually caused by a pinched nerve. The nerve passes through a tunnel created by carpal bones in your wrists. Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than men, and often begin to affect them around menopause. Over a hundred thousand operations are performed each year to correct carpal tunnel syndrome, but there may be an easier solution. According to latest research, merely increasing your intake of vitamin B6 may enable you to wave goodbye to wrist pain forever.Advertisements
6. KEEPS SKIN HEALTHY
Having a youthful glow to your skin might help you look younger, and looking younger can help you feel younger. The cells of your skin are being replaced rapidly (though perhaps not quite as rapid as when you were 18). B vitamins are vital to this cell division, so getting plenty of B vitamins is an easy way to enjoy healthy, younger looking skin.
7. INCREASE RESISTANCE TO DISEASE
Because B vitamins are involved in the process of creating white blood cells that fight disease, they play an important role in disease resistance.
8. BEEFS UP PHYSICAL FITNESS
B vitamins are involved in processing protein and rebuilding muscles. If you want to reap the anti aging benefits of an exercise program, B vitamins can help make your exercise more productive and efficient.
RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCE (RTD) FOR B VITAMINS
Thiamine (B1). 1.1 mg (women)
1.5 mg (men)
Riboflavin (B2). 1.3 mg (women)
1.7 mg (men)
CABALAMIN (B12). 2mcg
Folic Acis. 180mg(women)
Niacin(B3). 15mg (women)
Pyridoxine (B6). 1.6mg (women)
HOW TO GET MORE B VITAMINS NATURALLY
Eating a varied balanced diet is the best way to boost your B – vitamin intake naturally. The following are good sources of B vitamin; milk, yoghurt, spinach, beef liver, mushroom, baked potato, pork chop, green peas, cottage cheese, tuna, banana etc.
DO YOU NEED SUPPLEMENTS?Advertisements
Scientists say you should get as many nutrients as you can from the food you eat, but if you’re going to take supplements, a B – complex is important. Certain people may need more supplements than others. For example:
1. Elderly people often have deficiency of B12, folate, and B6.
2. Vegetarians may need additional B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, since it isn’t found in plant sources.
3. Illness or stress can increase your need for B vitamins.
THE WISE B – VITAMIN CONSUMER
Because B vitamins work together, you probably shouldn’t take just one B vitamin. Instead, look for a supplement that contains a balanced amount of all the B vitamins.
B – VITAMIN CAUTIONS
Because they are water soluble, most B vitamins are considered safe, even in large doses. The excess passes harmlessly out in your urine. However, there are a few exceptions.
1. Too much niacin (over 100 mg) can cause an allergic like reaction. If taken in very large doses (over 3,000 mg), niacin may cause liver enzyme changes that could be harmful. Take it with meals and avoid hot liquid and alcohol after taking it.
2. Vitamin B6 can be toxic in daily doses of 200 mg or more, causing bone pains and muscle weakness. Very large doses can cause permanent nerve damage.
3. Too much folic acid can mask the symptoms of anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.