The importance of B complex vitamins

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The Health Benefits of B complex vitamins

VITAMIN B complex is the name given to a group of nutrients essential for health that have certain characteristics in common. There are about 10 different B vitamins that comprise the B Complex Group.

They are all synergists, in other words, they all support each other, and are related, in their function. The list includes B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine) and B12 (Cyano cobalamin). Also included in this family are the accessory food factors Choline, Inositol, Folic Acid and P.A.B.A. Ideally, all B Group Vitamins should be administered together. This is almost as economical as using one individual B Vitamin and it eliminates the risk of high doses of one, unbalancing the availability of the others. There will, however, be some instances where a larger individual dose of say, B12 or Folic Acid (as for iron deficiency) may be in a person's best interests. This would still be best given in conjunction with a B Complex formula.

What they do - The B Vitamins are involved in the biochemical cycle which converts carbohydrates into glucose, and are therefore a necessary part of the bodies energy production cycle. They are also necessary for our nervous system and immune system. So, think of B complex in terms of energy, stress and immunity. Individually, the B Vitamins are involved in a vast number of different biochemical processes. As we have seen, B12 is necessary for Iron absorption. Folic Acid and B12 work closely together. B2 is necessary for the activation of B6 and B3 can be manufactured in the body, provided there is sufficient B6. They all work together. Generally speaking, B vitamins are sadly lacking in our nutritionless, over processed daily diet.

Deficiency Signs - These include, cracks at the corners of the mouth, painful, sore, red tongue, often very pointed. Skin disorders. Lassitude and weariness and possibly emotional disturbance. Alcoholics have a greatly increased requirement, especially for B1. Pregnant and lactating women require more of the B group vitamins, especially B6, B12 and Oral contraceptive pill users have an increased requirement for B6. Suffice to say, anybody on a junk food diet or a high stress lifestyle (or both, as is often the case) is unlikely to derive their B vitamin requirement from their food.

Best Natural Sources - Best natural sources are meats and livers, milk, eggs, whole grains and yeast. Some green leafy vegetables and beans also provide certain B vitamins. As you can see, this covers most of our food and is another good reason for variety in the daily diet.

Supplemental Sources - Most B vitamins are now produced synthetically. Certain studies have shown that synthetic B vitamins work more effectively when provided in a formula together with liver extract or yeast or both.

Official R.D.A. Intake - About 1mg per day for B1,2,3,5,6 and 1 microgram per day for B12.

Recommended Daily Intake - Most formulas provide about 50 times the R.D.A. per capsule. Presumably this is to guarantee that sufficient of each vitamin is absorbed. These doses are quite safe, as excesses are excreted in the urine. Follow the manufacturer's, or your therapist's, directions.

Therapeutic Dose - Generally speaking, the recommended daily intake of a B Complex vitamin formula will provide sufficient B vitamins. It is important that pregnant and lactating women get sufficient B vitamins, especially B12 and Folic Acid in cases of pernicious anaemia, B12 injections may be necessary to restore depleted body supplies.

Toxicity - Toxicity is not usually a problem if 1 or 2 tablets, taken from a reputable B Complex vitamin manufacturer, are taken daily. Follow the B vitamins such as B6. This is often sold for P.M.S. in 250 mg.

Tablets - Some people think that if 1 or 2 tablets per day are good then 4 to 6 tablets will be even better but please be careful. Symptoms of B6 toxicity have been recorded at doses as low as 400mg a day.

Please note that B Complex will usually produce yellow coloured urine. This is caused by vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin. This is quite harmless and is to be expected. Riboflavin is often used as a food colouring.

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