What they do… B vitamins
What are they?
Water soluble vitamins that we can’t manufacture ourselves. They are:
B5 pantothenic acid
B9 folic acid or folate
As they are so wide-ranging in effects, each is important on its own and also in combination. Below are just a few health conditions that can be improved with optimum intake.
Reduce risk of Alzheimers, heart disease and osteoporosis: Folic acid, B6 and B12 are shown in studies to reduce the level of homocysteine, a toxic byproduct of one of the amino acids. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to all three conditions.
Ease PMS: B6 can help with some symptoms, but continued high doses can cause nerve damage.
Lower insulin resistance: Biotin or B7 has been shown to improve glucose control in those with type 2 diabetes.
Eliminate neural tube defects: Folic acid /why-you-need-folic-acid/ is the most important B vitamin.
When do I need them?
Throughout the life course; if suffering fatigue not associated with iron-deficiency anaemia; and if planning a pregnancy [link to folic acid entry]. After the age of 50, requirement for B12 increases to guard against mental decline.
How do I get it?
Eat: A healthy balanced diet should give you all you need. However, B12 is mainly found in animal foods, so veggies who don’t eat enough dairy or eggs, or vegans, may need to eat foods fortified with B vitamins or take a B-complex.
Take: A complete B vitamin complex to ensure intake of all the vitamins in this group.
Be careful if…
Avoid taking high doses, particularly of B6, as that can lead to nerve damage.