Treatments - B Vitamins
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B Vitamins

The B-vitamins are a large group of vitamins that include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, niacinamide, biotin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, B-12 and the B-6 group (pyridoxine group). Many supplements are sold as a ‘B-complex’ that contains each of these important nutrients.
A number of these vitamins will be reviewed separately to highlight their benefits.

Recent evidence has consistently found an association between elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine with heart disease and stroke. A deficiency of vitamin B6, folic acid, or vitamin B12 may increase your level of homocysteine. In the large Nurses' Health Study, high intakes of folic acid and vitamin B-6 were associated with the lowest risk of CHD.

What is Vitamin B-6?
Vitamin B-6 is essential for many functions in the body. It is present in many tissues and is involved in multiple chemical reactions required for optimal health. For instance, B-6 is needed for processing amino acids as well as the production of niacin. B-6 is also responsible for helping to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrying pigment found in red blood cells. Without B-6, your body would develop an anemia which would limit the amount of oxygen carried to vital tissues. Vitamin B-6 also is involved in maintaining the amount of glucose in your blood stream within normal range.

What foods contain Vitamin B-6?
Vitamin B-6 is found in a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, fish, beans and many fortified cereals.

What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B6 for women?
The 1998 RDAs for vitamin B6 for women less than 51 years of age is 1.3 milligrams. 1.5 milligrams is recommended for women over 51 years of age.

When can a vitamin B6 deficiency occur?
Vitamin B-6 deficiency is rarely seen in the U.S. Symptoms of a vitamin B-6 deficiency generally occur after body levels have been low for a very long time and include skin inflammation, sore and enlarged tongue, depression and confusion.

What can too much vitamin B-6 do?
Elevated levels of vitamin B-6 can cause nerve damage to the arms and legs, called a neuropathy. It is usually associated with significantly high intakes of B-6 and is reversible when the intake is stopped.

What is Vitamin B-12?
Vitamin B-12 (also known as cobalamin) is involved in maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is attached to protein in food. Stomach acid releases B12 from protein during digestion. Once released, B12 combines with a substance from the stomach called intrinsic factor (IF) before it is absorbed into the bloodstream.

What foods contain vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, eggs, fish, milk, poultry and fortified cereals.

What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B12 for women?
The 1998 RDAs for vitamin B12 for women is 2.4 micrograms.

When can a vitamin B-12 deficiency occur?
Most adults will receive adequate levels of vitamin B-12 from their diet. However, a deficiency may result from the inability to absorb the B-12 due to a stomach or gastrointestinal disorder. This is called pernicious anemia and usually results from a lack of intrinsic factor. Signs of B-12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, constipation, lack of appetite, weight loss. Prolonged deficiency can lead to nerve damage, including numbness and tingling of the extremities. Of importance, folic acid can correct the anemia caused by a B-12 deficiency, but it cannot prevent the permanent nerve damage from a B-12 deficiency. Therefore, correcting a pernicious anemia requires careful monitoring from a physician.

What can too much B-12 do?
There is little evidence that too much B-12 is harmful.