Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Eat B Vitamins?

Who knew that vitamins and the foods we eat could have such an impact on our health?  Some people think paying attention to dietary causes of diseases and virulent mental health states is all a bunch of hocus-pocus.  I would suggest that we all think again.  

 This is why we should eat a Balanced amount of foods containing the B Vitamins:

What B Vitamins Do
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Biotin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Folate (Folic Acid)
  • Vitamin B-12
B Vitamins are apart of the energy metabolism team.  They assist with BREAKING DOWN carbs, proteins, and fats to convert them into energy that can be used by the cells of our body.  Some of them assist with CONSTRUCTING glucose (sugar/carbs), lipids (fats), and amino acids (protein).  Some of the MVPs they help construct include hemoglobin (made of protein) and DNA (made of sugars).

The BREAKING DOWN and CONSTRUCTION processes of the body = METABOLISM

Thiamin, Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are especially important players in maintaining balance in the Nervous System.   Thiamin and Vitamin B-6 team up with vitamin C  to construct neurotransmitters for the Nervous System.  B-6 and B-12 help speed up the communication between the cells in the body through their role in myelin sheath formation.  Myelin sheath speeds up neuromuscular communication which improves our coordination and response processes.

All B Vitamins are Coenzymes.  Enzymes are needed in all chemical reactions (METABOLISM) in the body.  Many of those enzymes cannot adequately play their position on the team unless their specific B Vitamin Coenzyme is attached.

B Vitamin Deficiencies, Toxicities, and Food Sources
There are different symptoms and diseases with each of the B Vitamins.  Most of Vitamin B Deficiencies are caused by drinking too much alcohol.  Alcohol consumption decreases our ability to absorb and use these vitamins.  For most of the B Vitamins, no symptoms of Toxicity have been reported. The ones that have are caused by overdosing on supplements.


Thiamin
Deficiency:  Beriberi
Symptoms of Beriberi include weakness, apathy, irritability, nerve tingling, poor coordination, and numbness.  Chronic cases include paralysis and changes in the cardiovascular system. 

Thiamin Deficiency:  Beri Beri


Thiamin Deficiency caused by toxic alcohol consumption:  Wernicke-Korsakoffe Syndrome





Food Sources
Protein
Pork
Nuts, Seeds, Legumes (beans) 

Grains
Whole and Enriched Grains

The Numbers
1.1-1.2 mg/day 

Riboflavin 
Deficiency
This deficiency is noticed most around the mouth.  If deficient, we'll experience inflammation of the mouth and tongue.  The corners of our mouth will crack.

Food Sources

Protein
Meats
 
Dairy products

Whole and Enriched Grains

Dark green veggies

The Numbers
1.1-1.3 mg/day

Niacin 
Deficiency:  Pellagra


Symptoms are diarrhea, dermatitis on areas exposed to the sun, and dementia.  Chronic Niacin Deficiency can result in death.

Processes other than drinking too much alcohol that result in poor Niacin intake are consuming a diet based in corn (which prevents adequate Niacin absorption), leaving out fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meats and poultry. 

Toxicity
Getting too much Niacin causes flushing, nausea, skin rash, and tingling in the extremities. 

Food Sources
Protein
Beef
Chicken
Fish
peanuts, Legumes (beans) 

Grains
Whole and Enriched Grains

The Numbers
14-16 mg/day 

Upper Limit:  35 mg from fortified foods and supplements


Biotin 
Deficiency
Symptoms of this deficiency are similar to Niacin Deficiency but also include depression and hallucinations.

Those who down raw eggs or who drink excessive amounts of alcohol reduce their body's ability to absorb Biotin. 

Food Sources
Protein
Liver
Egg yolks

The Numbers
30 micrograms/day  (microgram = 1/1000 milligram)

Pantothenic Acid 
Deficiency
When we are low in Pantothenic Acid, we may experience fatigue and skin rash.

Food Sources
Widespread in foods

Protein
Meat
Legumes (beans) 

Grains
Whole grains

The Numbers
5 mg/day 

Vitamin B-6 
Deficiency
When we're low on Vitamin B-6, we may experience headaches, nausea, or other neurological symptoms.  If we are continuously low, our results may be  convolutions, poor growth, skin lesions, decreased immune function, and anemia.  This is true because Vitamin B-6 plays a crucial role in protein and energy metabolism.

Toxicity
If we consume too much Vitamin B-6 we may experience numbness and eventually damage our nerves.  Again, we don't usually get too much of any vitamin through food sources.  The potential to overdose is when we consume supplements.

Food Sources
Protein
Meat
Fish
Poultry
Nuts, Seeds, Legumes (beans) 

Grains
Whole Grains

The Numbers
1.3-1.7 mg/day 

Upper Limit:  100 mg/day

Folate (Folic Acid) 
Deficiency
Similar to Riboflavin Deficiency, if we are low in Folate we may also experience inflammation of the tongue.  We may also experience diarrhea, which seems to be common among many vitamin imbalances because this is one efficient means by which the body rids itself of toxins.  Long-term Folate Deficiency can result in poor growth.  In pregnant mothers, it can result in babies with neural tube defects like Spina Bifida.  Deficiency can also result in a type of anemia called, Macrocytic Anemi.  Anemia literally means without blood.  Macrolytic anemia affects the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the body's tissues.  Without oxygen, one the ATP (body's energy source) cannot be produced.

Toxicity
If we get too much Folate, it may mask Vitamin B-12 deficiency symptoms, which are nerve damage.  If we are not aware of these symptoms, we could end up with Pernicious Anemia, a type of Macrolytic Anemia that was like a death sentence if you had it back in the 1920s. 

Food Sources
Protein
Seeds, Legumes (beans) 

Grains  
Enriched Grains

Vegetables
Leafy greens

Fruits
Orange juice 

The Numbers
400 micrograms DFE/day 

Upper Limit:  1000 micrograms/day from fortified food and supplements
 
Vitamin B-12 
Deficiency
The main symptom associated with this deficiency is nerve damage.  
The results identified with Vitamin B-12 Deficiency are similar to Folate Deficiency--Pernicious Anemia (Macrocytic Anemia).  More details about Pernicious Anemia:  It is a blood disease where the red blood cells don't divide normally.  They just grow bigger, hence the word Macro (large) -cytic (pertaining to cells).


Food Sources
Protein
Animal products

The Numbers
2.4 mg/day


This is a lot of specific facts on each vitamin.  To try to make sure we get them all in we don't have to target each one individually.  We just need to eat a diet balanced in whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, dairy, and protein.  See The Bottom Line blog post to determine the right amounts of each food group. 

Sometimes we could be running around in circles looking for cures, magic pills, secret remedies for whatever malady we're facing.  The FUNDAMENTAL PRIORITY PROCESS we need to engage in is making sure our diet includes all the macronutrients and micrnutrients that it needs to function at peak capacity.  The following song is a metaphor for just focusing on the priorities. A healthy balanced diet is like a healthy relationship.  Basically, eating healthy (and exercising regularly) IS WHERE IT IS!!!  "The biggest things [or changes we can make] IN THE SMALLEST PLACES."

"That's Where It Is" by Carrie Underwood

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