Your Guide to B-Vitamins

What are B-vitamins?

A family of eight vitamins:

  • B1: Thiamine

  • B2: Riboflavin

  • B3: Niacin

  • B5: Pantothenic Acid

  • B6: Biotin

  • B9: Folate

  • B12: Cobalamin

What are the claimed benefits?

  • Increase energy

  • Improve mood

  • Decrease depressive symptoms

  • Improve blood sugar regulation

  • Improve eyesight

  • Improve muscular tone

  • Improve brain function

  • Support hormone balance

  • Support cholesterol reduction and cardiovascular health

What the science says

Mostly, yes!

B-vitamins are all metabolically important as they are involved in your body’s ability to produce energy. Some are involved in protein metabolism, others in red blood cell generation, and several in DNA synthesis - how your cells replicate and regenerate themselves.

When you think about how many cells in your body need energy and need to regenerate themselves - the answer is all of them! From your pancreas making insulin, to your brain regenerating nerve cells, and the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and artery walls staying strong and healthy, B-vitamins are absolutely involved.

The latest research is also showing strong links between b-vitamin deficiencies and risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. This is measured through blood levels of homocysteine (Hcy) and methylmalonic acid (MMA).

Why is this a “mostly, yes” and not a resounding “yes!”? If you already consume adequate amounts of B-vitamins, you will not likely notice an appreciable change in these symptoms with a further increase in B-vitamins intake. Additionally, some compelling research has shown potential increased risk for certain cancers, particularly in men, with chronically high B-vitamin supplement use. There seems to be a B-vitamin sweet spot of not too little and not too much.

The Apeiron Life perspective

With B-vitamins playing such a critical role in day-to-day energy as well as long-term health, we take them seriously at Apeiron Life. We measure both your MMA and Hcy in your blood work. If they are high, this means that you are not getting adequate B-vitamins to convert MMA and Hcy into the next metabolites in this process. We want to catch this early, correct accordingly, and continue to monitor as to not over-correct.

Since B-vitamins cannot be made by your body, they must be consumed. It is best to get these B-vitamins through foods first, as the foods themselves also contain a multitude of other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that a supplement just can’t thoroughly encapsulate.

For B-vitamin rich foods, think of this rhyme: “lean meats, beans & greens”

  • Lean meats & seafood: chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, salmon, sardines, shrimp, scallops

  • Beans/legumes: navy, black, kidney, pinto, lima, garbanzo, soybeans/tempeh, lentils, green peas

  • Greens: asparagus, brussel sprouts, beet greens, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy, turnip greens, kale

  • Others of note: sunflower & flax seeds, eggs, cow’s milk/yogurt, avocado, sweet potatoes

Unless your lab work indicates that you need a B-complex supplement or you are following a vegan diet that lacks certain B-vitamins, we recommend sticking to B-vitamin rich foods. Also, as previously mentioned, mega-dosing on supplements has its risks. Conversely it is nearly impossible to overdose on beans and greens. Your digestion would be the first to let you know if you did!

Still curious to try a supplement? If you do, here’s what to keep an eye on:

Be sure to get medical grade supplements that are inspected for purity, potency accuracy and quality. Since supplements are poorly regulated by the FDA, it is up to a savvy consumer to choose not only an effective product, but one that is not riddled with fillers and toxic contaminants.

For B-vitamins, it is important that they are in forms that are absorbable and usable by your body. Particularly, for folate and B12, these should be in methylated forms such as methyltetrahydrofolate and methylcobalamin respectively. Not sure where to look? Ask your Apeiron Life Client Advocate for a quality supplement recommendation.

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