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Vitamin B Complex

All the water-soluble B vitamins work as a team to promote healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, muscle tone and cardiovascular function. They protect us from mental disorders, depression and anxiety. Deficiency of the B vitamin complex can result in the enlargement and malfunction of almost every organ and gland in the body.

The best source of B vitamins is whole grains, refinement thus wastes this essential source. They are also found in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seafood and organ meats; they can also be produced by intestinal bacteria B1 (thianine) was the first water soluble vitamin to be discovered.

Deficiency leads to the disease beriberi. Recent evidence indicates that B1 deficiency is the root cause of anorexia and other eating disorders. It is essential for the manufacture of hydrochloric acid and has been used to treat constipation, fatigue, herpes and multiple sclerosis.

Sugar consumption rapidly depletes vitamin B1.

B2 or riboflavin is found in a variety of whole foods. Frequent cracks in the lips and corners of the mouth is a sign of deficiency. Deficiency of B3, or niacin results in the disease pellagra, characterised by dermatitis, dementia, tremors and diarrhoea. The amino acid tryptophan can be converted to niacin and has been used to treat a variety of symptoms indicative of niacin deficiency.

Pantothenic acid, vitamin B5, found in organ meats, egg yolks and whole grains, is essential for the proper function of the adrenal glands. It plays a vital role in cell metabolism and cholesterol production. It can improve the body’s ability to withstand stress.

Recent studies have revealed that vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, found mostly in animal products, contributes to the proper functioning of over 100 enzymes. Deficiencies in B6 have been linked to diabetes, nervous disorders and coronary heart disease.

Folic acid is also a B vitamin, folic acid deficiency can result in babies born with neural tube deformities like spinal bifida.

B12 is needed to prevent anaemia and nervous disorders as well as to maintain fertility and promote normal growth and development. Usable B12 is found only in animal foods. An early symptom if B12 deficiency is a tendency to irrotational anger.

B15 (pangamic acid) and B17 (nitrilosides) protect against cancer; the former is found in grains and seeds; the latter in grasses, sprouts, buckwheat, legumes and many fruit seeds.

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B1 - Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is an essential vitamin involved heavily in glucose production. While not a common deficiency in an otherwise healthy diet and limited benefits when taken by a healthy subject, instances of high blood glucose and/or alcoholism can increase the need for this vitamin drastically.

The Human Effect Matrix summarises human studies to tell you what effects Vitamin B1 has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

PMS - One study found a staggering reduction in symptoms with 100 mg of vitamin B1 daily. It wasn't clear what the baseline vitamin B1 status of the participants was. Another study found a notable benefit of 100 mg daily over 2 months, and also that the improvement was additive with calcium, with the combination being notably more potent than either separately. Much more research is needed.

B2 - Riboflavin is an essential vitamin that is required for some enzymes in the body to act normally. Supplementation of riboflavin is not outright required with a good diet, but may serve some benefits for cardiovascular health in genetically susceptible people.

True deficiencies of riboflavin result in a condition known as ariboflavinosis, which is fairly rare in first world countries but characterized by various ailments of mucous membranes (mouth and throat) and the skin as well as eye problems. Suboptimal deficiencies are somewhat prevalent although not common aside from a few groups, and for the most part do not result in any major health-threatening conditions.

Groups that would benefit from riboflavin supplementation include adolescent and young adult women, particularly in the UK where riboflavin is not fortified in food to as high a level as in the US and Canada, and the elderly which tend to have less than optimal intakes of riboflavin.

Beyond merely supporting a good riboflavin status, supplementation has a possible benefit for cardiovascular health in a certain population.

People who have two copies of a certain gene, known as MTHFR 677TT, have a condition where homocysteine is abnormally elevated due to defects in folate metabolism. These people may experience reductions in blood pressure and homocysteine when riboflavin is supplemented at a low dose. Higher doses of riboflavin (at around 400mg taken in split doses throughout the day) may also have a therapeutic effect for migraines.

Overall, riboflavin is a vitamin which someone could not ingest enough of if their diet is poor, yet a better diet could correct this. Supplementation is never mandatory but is likely prudent for people who are confirmed to be MTHFR 677TT or for anemics on iron repletion therapy (where optimising riboflavin intake would aid the utility of supplemental iron).

The Human Effect Matrix summarises human studies to tell you what effects Vitamin B2 has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Homocysteine - Homocysteine appears to be reduced to a large degree at 1.6mg, but this effect is exclusive to subjects with a specific genetic mutation known as MTHFR 677TT (two copies of MTHFR 677C->T).

Migraine - Riboflavin supplementation appears to be quite effective in reducing migraine frequency based on preliminary research. The effect of riboflavin on intensity is still undetermined, and the optimal dose is not known as while most studies use 400mg one found similar benefits with 25mg.

B3 - Niacin is an essential B-vitamin. Supplementation results in improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, since a side-effect of supplementation is increased insulin resistance, niacin supplementation only provides benefits for cardiovascular health if precautions are taken.

Vitamin B3 refers to the molecule commonly called nicotinic acid, or niacin, though it may also refer to the other vitamin B3 vitamer, called nicotinamide. Vitamin B3 is necessary to support the function of many enzymes.

Niacin supplementation is very effective at normalizing blood lipid levels. People with low HDL-C levels supplementation experience an increase in HDL-C levels, while people with high LDL-C experience a reduction in LDL-C levels. Triglyceride levels also fall after supplementation, which makes niacin look like a great cardioprotective supplement on paper. Unfortunately, niacin supplementation does not result in reduced cardiovascular disease risk, since it also increases insulin resistance, which negates the benefits niacin provides for blood lipid levels.

Other benefits of niacin supplementation are theorized to extend to growth, cognition, and longevity. This is because niacin supplementation increases cellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) levels. Preliminary evidence suggests increased NAD+ levels may result in the above benefits, but much more research is needed to determine if this effect actually occurs. Topical application of nicotinamide is sometimes used for skin health, though it is not as effective as vitamin A. Nicotinamide is used for topical application because it does not result in the flushed skin that niacin supplementation can cause.

Current evidence suggests prolonged niacin supplementation increases insulin resistance because it hinders the ability of insulin to suppress glucose synthesis in the liver. This causes an increase in blood glucose levels, which leads to lowered insulin sensitivity over time, since the relevant receptor is eventually desensitised to the elevated glucose levels in the blood. The flush caused by niacin supplementation is a temporary effect. Though it may be uncomfortable, it is not harmful. There are many case studies describing people overdosing on niacin in an effort to pass a urine test. Niacin overdose results in multiple organ failure and is not effective at masking a urine test.

The Human Effect Matrix summarises human studies to tell you what effects Vitamin B3 (Niacin) has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

HDL - High Density Lipoprotein - Niacin supplementation is currently the major reference for increasing HDL cholesterol concentrations rapidly and reliably, at times being called the Golden Standard for HDL increasing pharmaceuticals.

Acne - Topical application of 4% nicotinamide gel rivals 1% clindamycin gel in reducing acne severity and tends to work better than clindamycin in oily skin types.

LDL - Low Density Lipoprotein - Most evidence suggests that in subjects with dyslipidemia that supplemental niacin at the pharmacological dose results in a decrease in circulating LDL-C, although to a lesser magnitude than it influences HDL-C

Triglycerides - There appears to be a large decrease of triglycerides in subjects with dyslipidemia given pharmacological doses of niacin; the magnitude being greater than most supplements (but lesser than fish oil)

Leptin - An increase in circulating leptin has been noted with supplementation of pharmacological doses of niacin in subjects with metabolic syndrome.

B5 - Pantothenic acid is one of the B-vitamins which is critical in the formation of Co-enzyme A, a molecule which helps a large amount of enzymes function in the body, and for energy production in general. While it is important, it is rare to be deficient and further supplementation shows little promise.

B6 - Vitamin B6 is one of the B-vitamins, used in producing a necessary coenzyme in the body. While essential and with many small benefits, there appear to be no highly effective unique reasons to use this supplement.

The Human Effect Matrix summarises human studies to tell you what effects Vitamin B₆ has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Breast Tenderness - One study found a notable reduction in cyclic mastalgia pain as compared with baseline, though there was no placebo group, only a comparator group that received vitamin E, and the true effect is unknown.

Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is an essential B-vitamin most well known for its role in preventing neural tube defects in infants. It also has a role in supporting general health but may be detrimental in high amounts.

B12 - Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) is a water-soluble essential vitamin that is known to play roles in neurology.

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