Did you know that the word vitamin is derived from the chemical name amine and the latin word vita, meaning life? Did you know that over 60 million people in the United States are deficient in certain B-vitamins like B6, B12 and folic acid? What I find interesting is all the buzz regarding the role these specific vitamins play in the brain and in our cardiovascular health. It seems all the attention these days falls on Omega-3s, but the health and wellness community would benefit more from a concentrated effort on the synergistic effects of of effectively using B-vitamins for optimizing our minds and bodies. Let's delve deeper into some fascinating research!
B vitamins are critical for a variety of functions in the body. Some of these functions include regulating metabolism, maintaining healthy skin and lean muscle muscle tone, supporting a robust immune system and healthy nervous system functioning. B vitamins are key players in cell growth and division.
It’s important to understand that being deficient in just one of the B vitamins can impact many of the various organ systems in the body. To put things into perspective, over 20 million individuals in the United States are deficient in B6 and over 40 million Americans today are deficient in B12. What makes this so alarming is that B12 is necessary for the maintenance and repair of the myelin sheath in your brain as well as signaling to the pineal gland the release of melatonin. B6 is critical to proper brain health, development and for creating melatonin. B6 helps facilitate the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin. It even acts as a co-factor for metabolism of ALA to the long chain fats EPA/DHA.
One of the hot topics trending the nutritional research world is called the “homocysteine theory.” Homocysteine is an amino acid, which is a product in the normal biosynthesis of the amino acids methionine and cysteine. It is an amino acid produced via demethylation of dietary methionine, which is abundant in animal proteins like eggs, fish and meats. What makes homocysteine such a nasty compound in the body is it’s direct effect on impairing endothelial function in the body. This disrupts nitric oxide production, which is critical for cardiovascular health. There have been studies to back up the synergistic effects of folic acid, B6 and B12 and its effect on lowering homocysteine levels in the body, which has been correlated with elevated cardiovascular events. In fact, following are some super fascinating studies I dug up.
This first study looked at the oxidative damage and inflammation in obese diabetic individuals. They took 100 diabetic patients and randomly assigned either to receive a daily B complex and targeted anti-oxidant vitamins like Vitamin C and various tocopherols or an identical placebo. After 3 months, blood was extracted and analyzed to measure the anti-oxidant/vitamin status and markers of free radical damage like C-reactive proteins. Researchers found that the B vitamin group increased blood concentrations of vitamin E and folate levels, resulting in reduced homocysteine levels compared to the placebo group. Oxidative damage was reduced greatly in the supplement group using the B vitamins and anti-oxidant vitamins too (Nutrition & Metabolism, 2012).
This next study looked the effects of B12 supplementation on serum homocysteine in patients going through hemodialysis (HD). Hemodialysis is this process of removing excess waste like urea from the blood to restore electrolyte balance in the blood. This study involved 140 HD patients that were randomly split into two groups. One group took the B12 supplement IV injected twice a week and the other group being the control, placebo group. This was taken place over an eight-week period.
After eight weeks, the B12 group median homocysteine levels had dropped significantly compared to the control group. This makes one wonder if higher amounts of B12 than what was provided in this study could be even more effective at lowering homocysteine levels in the body. Please keep in mind that there is still lots to ponder on here and consider, but this is very promising and exciting research in field of cardiovascular health (Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation, 2016).
Its important to understand that cardiovascular disease is a very complex process with many variables. For this reason, we emphasize just how important B vitamins are for the mind and body. Please keep an open mind and grasp that we are all different and respond at certain levels to B vitamins. The very power and synergy of these specific B vitamins cant be denied. I hope this article sheds light and brings a newfound perspective and appreciation for B vitamins for you.
Thoughts? Comment below.