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VITAMIN B6 PART OF THE B COMPLEX FAMILY
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 14 January 2016
B6, Part of the B Complex Family: You Need It
Don V. Richards
B6, also known in its biologically active form as pyridoxal phospate
(and also in the form of pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, pyridoxal, and
several other variants) is naturally-occurring nutrient that is
absolutely essential to human health. It's a water-soluble vitamin which means that it can't be stored in the fat tissues of the
human body, and any excess beyond what the body can use right now is
just flushed away in the urine. Furthermore, the body can't
manufacture its own supply. Since we need Vitamin B6 to stay alive,
that means that we need an external source of this nutrient,
and we must consume B6 regularly and repeatedly.
B6 is one of the eight "B complex" vitamins and, like all of
them, it helps the body convert our food fats, proteins, and
carbohydrates into the glucose which every cell in our body
constantly needs as fuel. Also, without Vitamin B6, we would be
unable to maintain proper, healthy functioning of our liver, our
skin, our hair, and our eyes among other things. The nervous
system also needs Vitamin B6 for the production of certain substances
which are essential for our nerve cells to communicate with each
other which is what enables all our senses, our control over our
muscles and other organs (both conscious and unconscious), and our
very minds themselves.
B6 is essential not only for healthy human brain function, but for
proper brain development
in children, too. B6 is also needed in order for the body to produce
the hormones norepinephrine
and serotonin, which
regulate our moods, and melatonin,
the "sleep hormone," which helps us maintain a normal, restful
combination with other members of the B complex family (specifically,
Vitamins B12 and B9), Vitamin B6 helps the body reduce levels of an
amino acid called homocysteine in our blood. High levels of
homocysteine in the bloodstream are linked to heart disease. Studies
have shown that people who don't get enough Vitamin B6 are more
likely to suffer from diseases of the heart.
B6 is also good for our circulatory system in that it is needed for
the production of both our regular red blood cells and the white
blood cells of our (extremely important) immune system. And, in one
of many examples of synergy between members of the B complex family
of vitamins, our bodies cannot absorb Vitamin B12 (which boosts blood
health and prevents anemia) without an adequate intake of Vitamin B6.
are currently studying whether or not Vitamin B6 can fight "morning
sickness" (nausea and vomiting) among pregnant women. Several
studies including one that was a double-blind test of the
nutrient against a placebo control group indicate that it can.
But a few studies failed to reproduce these results, so research is
possible Vitamin B6 benefit currently under review by science is its
value in combating
depression. Patients suffering from depression often have low levels
of the hormone serotonin, and several anti-depressant drugs function
by raising serotonin levels in the bloodstream. Vitamin B6 helps the
body produce serotonin, so trials are underway to see if B6
supplementation can ameliorate the symptoms of this terrible malady.
of the symptoms of the painful disease arthritis, which particularly
affects older people, is inflammation of the joints. This
inflammation is known to reduce the level of Vitamin B6 in the body,
so it is thought that arthritis sufferers require more of this
nutrient than other people, and supplementation may be in order.
recent study indicated that direct injection of Vitamin B6 was
helpful to women experiencing hair loss. According to a Polish
medical study published on the National Institutes of Health Web
site, Vitamin B6 injections generally improved the quality of the
women's hair and reduced hair loss.
B6 deficiency is rare, but it does happen among people who have
extraordinarily poor diets and the processed food industry
enables us all to eat poorly if we don't watch ourselves! That
said, though, it should be easily possible to get all the Vitamin B6
you need for normal bodily health and functioning from the foods you
eat as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Some of the foods rich in
Vitamin B6 are brown rice; bran; sunflower seeds; wheat germ;
whole-grain flour; meat, including salmon, shrimp, and beef liver;
milk; cheese; beans; spinach; carrots; and lentils. Symptoms of
Vitamin B6 deficiency include sores on the tongue and in the mouth,
short-term memory loss,
confusion, difficulty in concentrating, muscle weakness, nervousness,
irritability, and depression.
you think you can benefit from Vitamin B6 supplements, be aware of
the guidelines for daily intake to maintain health and, if you do
take in excess of these amounts, make sure you discuss it with your
doctor or trusted health adviser beforehand. For adults, the
recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B6 varies from 1.3 to 2
mg. If you have a special need that requires supplementation at a
higher level, don't ever exceed 100 mg daily: Very large doses of
this nutrient have been known to cause nerve damage. Some symptoms
that might indicate you're consuming too much B6 are numbness in
the legs, loss of balance, allergic reactions of the skin, nausea,
abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and sensitivity to sunlight. When
the excess intake of Vitamin B6 is terminated, all symptoms usually
disappear in less than six months.
supplementing with Vitamin B6, it may be wise to take the vitamin as
part of a B complex supplement instead of just B6 on its own. This is
because the B vitamins often work in tandem with one another, and
allowing a large imbalance between them inhibits the synergy they
normally exhibit together, in which the total health effect is
greater than the sum of the individual parts.
your age, health, or condition in life, the 21st century is the age
of more widespread health knowledge and information than we've ever
known before. Take advantage of this information and take charge
of your diet your exercise the supplements
you take and start living like you've never lived before!
Steven D., "Vitamin B6," University of Maryland Medical Center,
, accessed 17 June 2014
G., Roffi, M., Flammer, Y., Pin, R., Hess, O.M., "Effect of
homocysteine-lowering therapy with folic acid, vitamin B12, and
vitamin B6 on clinical outcome after percutaneous coronary
intervention: the Swiss Heart study: a randomized controlled trial,"
Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002 Aug 28;
K., Manore M.M., "Elevated plasma homocysteine and low vitamin B-6
status in nonsupplementing older women with rheumatoid arthritis,"
Journal of the American Diet Assoc., 2008;108(3):443-53
J.E., Mischoulon, D., Nierenberg, A.A., Fava, M.. "Nutrition and
depression: focus on folate," Nutrition, 2000;16:544-581
G.L., Wang, E.E., "Preventive health care, 2000 update: screening
and management of hyperhomocysteinemia for the prevention of coronary
artery disease events," The Canadian Task Force on Preventive
Health Care, CMAJ, 2000;163(1):21-29
D., Young, G., "Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early
pregnancy," (Cochrane Review), Cochrane Database System Review,
Kathy, ND, About.com Alternative Medicine: Supplements; Vitamin B5,
, accessed 17 June, 2014
Kay, Live Strong, "What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B6 for Women?",
, accessed 17 June 2014
VITAMIN B5 IT IS EVERYWHERE
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 07 June 2014
Vitamin B5: It's Everywhere, It's Everywhere!
by Don V. Richards
Vitamin B5 is a lot like that fictional superhero "Chickenman," whose on-the-air slogan was "He's everywhere, he's everywhere!" Vitamin B5 is also called pantothenic acid. The word "pantothenic" comes from the Greek "pantothen," meaning "from everywhere." That's a reference to the fact that small quantities of Vitamin B5 are found in almost every food.
That's good news because Vitamin B5 is an essential nutrient - that is, it's absolutely necessary for life itself. It's believed by some scientists that Vitamin B5 supplementation can help reduce stress and anxiety, speed wound healing, and help with arthritis pain. Some research supports these claims, but some does not. Studies are ongoing.
Vitamin B5 is necessary, like the other B vitamins, for the conversion of food substances - fats, proteins, and carbohydrates -- into fuel and energy for your cells. Unless this process takes place, you'll die. Vitamin B5 is also a necessary component of Coenzyme A, itself needed for this same process. Coenzyme A is also an essential component in the body's synthesis of essential fats, certain neurotransmitters (chemicals needed for nervous system functioning), melatonin (needed for healthy sleep), and hemoglobin (an essential ingredient of red blood cells).
Pantothenic acid is water soluble instead of fat soluble, so it cannot be stored by the body - and any amount that isn't immediately used is excreted in the urine. It also cannot be synthesized by the body - so an intake of B5 is necessary on a regular basis for all of us just for normal health.
Vitamin B5 deficiency is very rare because the vitamin can be naturally found in so many foods. But B5 deficiency disease can occur in cases when diets are very poor. Pantothenic acid deficiency was known among prisoners of the Japanese during World War 2 in Japan, Burma, and the Philippines, for example. Sufferers reported symptoms of tingling and and burning sensations in the feet, accompanied by a general numbness. Participants in a modern study designed to test for pantothenic acid deficiency reported insomnia, gastrointestinal pain, headache, fatigue, numbness, and tingling of the extremities. The cure is simple: Restore a normal level of Vitamin B5 by administering supplements or changing the diet.
Pantothenic acid has been shown in animal tests to speed wound healing, and it had a similar effect on cultured human skin cells in the laboratory when those cells were given an artificial wound - it caused more new skin cells to migrate, and also increased the speed of their migration, and both effects are likely to lower wound healing times. However, the results haven't been replicated in human studies yet, so more research is needed.
One study found that application of pantothenic acid reversed hair graying in laboratory rats. As a result, many soap companies started to incorporate B5, or one of its derivatives, in their shampoos. But there's no evidence yet that the nutrient has a similar effect on human beings.
Vitamin B5 also is a critical ingredient for the body's synthesis of red blood cells, sex hormones, and stress-related hormones. Pantothenic acid is also needed for proper functioning of the human digestive tract. Without Vitamin B5, the body cannot optimally utilize Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), another necessary nutrient in the B complex family.
A Vitamin B5 derivative called pantethine has been shown by several studies to bother lower the levels of "bad" cholesterol and raise the levels of "good" cholesterol in the human bloodstream. 300 mg of pantethine, taken three times a day for a total of 900 mg daily, was found significantly more effective than a placebo in these tests. Pantethine was also tested on diabetic patients undergoing hemodyalisis with similar beneficial effects, and no negative side effects were noted.
Some studies suggest that a lack of pantothenic acid might cause some of the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It was discovered that people with the disease had lower levels of Vitamin B5 in their bloodstreams than non-sufferers, and those with the least pantothenic acid had the worst symptoms. Research in 1980 showed that 2,000 mg of a type of Vitamin B5 called calcium pantothenate gave relief from arthritis symptoms. Studies continue in this area.
Pantothenic acid is part of the B complex family of vitamins. When supplementing with Vitamin B5, it's a good idea to take a B complex supplement instead of just Vitamin B5 on its own. It's believed that there is a synergistic effect with the B complex vitamins, in which the total benefits exceed the sum of the benefits of each individual vitamin. Get them seriously out of balance, and you won't get the full effect.
The recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B5 for adults is 5 mg for adults, 6 mg for pregnant women, and 7 mg for breastfeeding women. But remember, some of the special benefits discussed above only kick in with doses somewhat larger than the minimums. But extremely high doses can trigger diarrhea and may increase the danger of bleeding due to other injuries.
You should be able to get enough Vitamin B5 without supplementation just by eating a varied, healthy diet. Foods rich in pantothenic acid include milk, yogurt, legumes, mushrooms, yeast, egg yolk, broccoli, liver, kidney, fish, shellfish, royal jelly, chicken, avocado, and sweet potatoes, along with whole grains - but remember that highly processed grains, like white bread, and canned foods, have less of the nutrient, in some cases 75 percent less.
If you do want to supplement, you should know that there is no established toxic dose for Vitamin B5 -- as no deaths due to pantothenic acid overdose are known to science. Long before toxicity could be reached, other symptoms arise and essentially warn the subject that he's had enough of the nutrient. At 10,000 to 20,000 mg per day, diarrhea generally occurs, and nausea and heartburn have also been noted at unusually high doses. Supplementation even at 1,200 mg per day is "generally well tolerated," according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
One warning, though: If you suffer from hemophilia, you probably shouldn't take Vitamin B5 supplements. It's possible that the vitamin will make it take even longer for bleeding to stop, should you become injured. As always in such cases, even if you're just a little bit unsure, consult a trusted physician.
Living in the 21st century has some disadvantages - our food is often highly processed and unhealthy, for example - but there's never been a time before now when people had such easy access to so much health information. Take advantage of the Information Age - read, learn, and take charge of your own diet and your own health today.
Christian Nordqvist, "What Is Vitamin B5?," Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219601.php , accessed 4th June, 2014
University of Maryland Medical Center, Health Reference Guide, "Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid," http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b5-pantothenic-acid , accessed 4th June, 2014
Kimura, S., et al., (1980), "Antagonism of L(-)pantothenic acid on lipid metabolism in animals," Journal of Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol. 26 (2): 113-7
WebMd, "Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)," http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-853-PANTOTHENIC%20ACID%20%28VITAMIN%20B5%29.aspx?activeIngredientId=853&activeIngredientName=PANTOTHENIC%20ACID%20%28VITAMIN%20B5%29 , accessed 4th June, 2014
Higdon, Jane, Linus Pauling Institute, "Micronutrient Information Center - Pantothenic Acid," http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/pa/ , accessed 4th June, 2014
Gropper, S. S., et al., (2009), Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, Belmont, CA, Wadsworth, Cengage learning
Organic Facts, "Health Benefits of Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid," http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vitamins/vitamin-b5-or-pantothenic-acid.html , accessed 4th June, 2014
VITAMIN B3 NIACIN THE VITAMIN YOU REALLY FEEL
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 22 May 2014
B3: Niacin - the Vitamin You Really Feel!
Don V. Richards
B3 - also known as niacin - is one of the few vitamins we can
take that often causes an immediate, dramatic effect that we can both
feel and see. That effect is called flushing,
and a niacin flush is exhilarating to some people, disturbing
and annoying to others, but it definitely can't be ignored. A
niacin flush can vary from a slight pink color and tingling of the
skin on the face and arms - not unlike blushing - to a dramatic
reddening that looks and feels like sunburn, along with a sensation
of heat. This flush is caused by a dilation of your blood vessels,
especially your capillaries. When you get a niacin flush, it's a
totally harmless reaction that shows that your body is saturated with
this essential nutrient. A niacin flush usually lasts fifteen minutes
to half an hour, and afterward you'll often feel more relaxed, with
an enhanced sense of well-being. In fact, some doctors recommend that
you take niacin right up to the point of slight flushing as an
indicator that you've taken just enough. The human body gradually
adapts itself to Vitamin B3 supplementation, too, so what causes a
flush today might not cause one next month.
of niacin's amazing properties is that it can help you relax
without the need for any artificial substances like "sleeping aids"
and help you fall asleep more rapidly at night. Dr. Andrew Saul says
"At really large doses, niacin can result in a sedating, calming
effect. This is more amazing as it is a nutrient." Saul uses
Vitamin B3 not only for help in relaxing, but to improve the mental
functioning of people suffering from schizophrenia, dementia, and
depression. (He also recommends supplementing at least an equivalent
amount of Vitamin C at the same time to moderate B3's effects on
the GI tract and other changes.) Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum calls niacin "a
natural tranquilizer" and cites a study on rats in which "niacin
had similar effects to valium on the turnover of serotonin,
noradrenalin, dopamine, and GABA in the areas of the brain that are
thought to be affected by anxiety without being addictive. Some
experts go so far as to call niacin 'Nature's Valium.'"
B3 is also one of the best - and most natural - treatments known
for elevating the "good cholesterol" [high-density lipoprotein
(HDL)] levels in your bloodstream, and diminishing the bad
cholesterol [low-density lipoprotein (LDL)]. Patients taking 3,000 mg
of Vitamin B3 daily (starting day one with 1,000 mg, day two with
2,000 mg, and 3,000 mg per day thereafter) were found to have up to a
25 percent lower level of bad cholesterol and a 50 percent reduction
in triglyceride levels. These factors also lead to lower heart
disease mortality among those taking niacin supplements.
John A. Rumberger of the Princeton Longevity Center states that
niacin may not help if a patient already has minimized his bad
cholesterol levels through "proper diet, attaining a proper weight
and body composition, regular aerobic and resistance training" and
treatment with statins (cholesterol-reducing prescription drugs). But
if that goal has not yet been achieved, then supplementing with
Vitamin B3 is "quite clinically appropriate."
to Dr. Andrew Saul, niacin can also reduce the severity of anxiety
and depression. Dr. David Williams recommends patients with arthritis
take between 1,000 to 4,000 mg of niacin daily (in the form
niacinamide) taken in five or six doses throughout the day, to
relieve pain and stiffness in their joints. Niacin in this form, in
action very similar to a niacin flush, opens up the blood vessels
deep in the joints, giving significant relief.
have shown that niacin helps reduce atherosclerosis - the hardening
of the arteries - that is a major cause of cardiovascular disease,
one of the civilized world's major killers. If you've already had
a heart attack, taking Vitamin B3 supplements makes a second heart
attack less likely, according to some recent research.
is ongoing to follow up initial clues that niacin also lowers the
risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, osteoarthritis,
and type 1 diabetes. Dr. David Williams says that if any prescription
drug had all the benefits of "dirt cheap" niacin, "the media
would be singing its praises."
to Dr. Abram Hoffer, who practices the regular use of niacin in the
treatment of depression and schizophrenia, 1,000 mg of niacin taken
three times daily improves memory and can actually reverse senility
in some patients. It also, as already stated, gives a relaxing and
calming effect without the necessity for using expensive, artificial
was first described by a chemist named Hugo Weidel in 1873. Weidel
was studying the properties of nicotine, and when oxidizing nicotine
using nitric acid he discovered what we now call niacin or Vitamin
B3. Originally it was called nicotinic acid, but when its
disease-curing and other biological properties became known, it was
decided to change the name to prevent the public from getting the
misapprehension that cigarettes are good for you (they're not!) or
contain vitamins. So "niacin" was coined, combining select
letters from the words "nicotinic acid vitamin."
is one of the water soluble vitamins, meaning that 1) it's
needed for life to continue; 2) the body can't produce its own
supply; and 3) any B3 beyond what the body can use right now is not
stored and is instead almost immediately flushed out in the urine.
Therefore, we all need both an adequate and a steady
source of niacin.
deficiency is known as pellagra, and Vitamin B3 was once known as
Vitamin P-P for "pellagra preventative." Pellagra symptoms and
effects include what doctors sometimes call the "four Ds":
dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death. More specifically, in
addition to the above pellagra can cause extreme sensitivity to
sunlight, skin lesions, hair loss, aggression, quarrelsomeness,
swelling, inflammation of the tongue, insomnia, muscle weakness,
confusion, lack of coordination, enlarged and weakened heart,
paralysis, and nerve damage. Pellagra is common in Africa and in
parts of Asia where diets are often poor - but it's also found in
advanced nations among the poor and homeless. Alcoholism, and drug
interactions which inhibit the absorption of Vitamin B3, can also
lead to the disease. Before its causes were understood, pellagra was
a major killer in the American South - it's estimated that over
100,000 died of it there between 1906 and 1940. When untreated,
chronic niacin deficiency can kill you in under five years. But
there's a simple cure: treatment with niacin or a niacin-containing
the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for niacin is 17 to 35 mg daily
- notably higher than for some of the other B complex vitamins.
Nevertheless, some physicians say that this is far too low to get
maximum benefits from this nutrient, and point out that 3,000 to
9,000 mg daily have been used for treating certain conditions, with
no known harm or side effects (outside of flushing). When using such
high doses, though, they recommend being under the care of a
physician, and accommodating the body to the vitamin by starting out
with a low dose and gradually increasing it over time. Since niacin
can interact with other medications, it's best to consult your
doctor when going outside the boundaries set by the RDA.
are the possible negative effects of taking Vitamin B3? Well, niacin
sometimes irritates the stomach lining if you take it on an empty
stomach - so always take it during or immediately after a meal. If
you suffer from gout, you should know that niacin can cause you to
excrete less uric acid than usual, so avoid taking high-dose niacin
if you have gout - though doses in the RDA range and small
multiples thereof are probably okay: ask your doctor. The worst side
effect reported with niacin use is liver damage, and that side effect
was only associated with the timed-release form of
niacin, developed to help those who wanted to eliminate the "niacin
flush." Just avoid the timed-release type of Vitamin B3 (and
regulate your daily input carefully if the harmless flushing bothers
you) altogether and this won't be a problem.
takes a tremendous amount of this very safe vitamin to achieve a
toxic dose. A toxic dose in dogs is 5,000 mg per 2.2 pounds of body
weight. (This would translate to 250,000 mg for a 110-pound human,
assuming the toxicity factors remain the same for the two species.)
But we don't actually know what the toxic Vitamin B3 dose for
humans is, for the simple reason that no one, to scientific knowledge
at least, has ever died from taking it. If you experience nausea -
a symptom that is very rare - after taking niacin, though, that's
definite sign that you've taken too much. (Ironically, nausea is
also a symptom of niacin deficiency!)
B3 is one of the "B complex" vitamins, and, like the others, is a
nutrient absolutely necessary for human life and health. It takes an
important part in the body's conversion of carbohydrates (food)
into fuel (glucose) for cellular energy and activity.
considering niacin (Vitamin B3) supplementation, it's often wise to
take it as part of a B complex supplement (or multivitamin which
contains a blend of the B complex vitamins), because too much of just
one of the B vitamins can sometimes cause an imbalance, and it's
believed that these essential nutrients act in synergy, in which the
total input has a greater beneficial effect that just the sum of its
individual parts. Similarly, whether you use supplements or not, it's
good to include natural, unprocessed foods rich in Vitamin B3 in your
diet, as there are trace elements in these foods that many believe
also have a synergistic effect with niacin. Foods rich in niacin
include eggs and other animal products, avocados, asparagus, sweet
potatoes, carrots, dates, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, broccoli, nuts,
whole grains, legumes, and brewer's yeast.
as I quoted Dr. Williams saying above, niacin supplements are "dirt
cheap," and niacin's benefits are equivalent to what we'd
imagine those of a "miracle drug" to be. But niacin is a simple
vitamin - not patented or patentable - and one can easily find it
at your local drugstore or pharmacy or online from many reputable
sellers at very low prices. Checking just Ebay alone, today I found a
bottle of 100 tablets (of 250mg each - a pretty high dose!) of
Vitamin B3 for as little as five dollars.
may be some things we don't like about the modern age, but one
thing for sure is very good about it: We've never had better
information about health more easily and widely available, allowing
us to take charge of own health through exercise programs, nutrition,
and health supplements in a better-informed way than ever before in
history. Take advantage of this situation, and begin achieving better
health and a better life today!
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