The B complex is an extremely important group of
nutrients that the body must acquire through the diet or produce
via the intestinal flora to enable it to transform food into
energy, maintain a strong immune system, balance many of the
body's hormones, and perform a wide variety of other tasks.
The B vitamins work together as a complex and are dependent
upon each other to perform their individual tasks in the body.
The insufficient intake of one B vitamin can create imbalances
and deficiencies in others and impair the body's ability to
assimilate and metabolize them. If a depletion or excess of
one over the other occurs for a period of any duration, there
will be a problem in the entire complex. Because of this relationship
between the B vitamins, an isolated deficiency of only one
B vitamin is rarely seen. This is another good reason for
taking the B vitamins as a complex, a whole, and not separately.
It is important to note that while the B vitamins must always
be taken as a complex, in cases where there is a condition
or problem caused by the deficiency of a particular B vitamin,
the single B vitamin may be taken in a therapeutic dosage
for a short time. However, the B complex must be taken as
well. Robert Crayhon of Designs for Health advises that the
therapeutic dose of the single B vitamin should be taken at
a different time during the day than the B complex to realize
Using a whole food, B complex in which all enzymes, nutrients,
and co-factors are intact, is the best way to supplement long
term. This will build nutritionally. If it is necessary, a
separate supplement of a particular synthetic vitamin may
be taken for a time to aid in improving a particular condition
or deficiency. This is something that generally should not
be done for long periods of time due to the fact that with
overuse, the synthetic vitamins may cause problems such as
nutrient depletion and toxicity.
Another disadvantage is that they can never build nutritionally.
The effect synthetic vitamins will have is pharmaceutical
not nutritional. The pharmaceutical effect is not always a
bad thing and may be beneficial in some cases, as we will
see. Synthetic vitamins should not be the main source of supplementation,
however. Our bodies were made to recognize and use vitamins
and minerals as they exist in food, not chemical versions
Let's look at some of the things that may contribute to vitamin
B deficiencies. Consumption of sugar, white flour products,
processed foods (lack nutrients and may contain many additives),
conventionally grown produce (lack nutrients and are contaminated
with toxins such as pesticides), alcohol, stress, environmental
pollution, inadequate digestion, malnutrition, illness, and
a vegetarian or vegan diet can all contribute.
Due to the fact that a good percentage of the U.S. population
consumes vitamin-deficient foods along with a combination
of one or more of the aforementioned problems, vitamin B deficiencies
have become commonplace.
Judith DeCava, Ph.D, in the article "Vitamin B Complex
in Human Nutrition," lists many possible symptoms of
a B complex deficiency:
Mild to severe depression
Uneasiness to panic
Constant feeling that something dreadful is going to happen
Inability to handle stress
Hearing noises, voices, etc.
Loss of ability to concentrate
Loss of memory
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Hypochlorhydria (insufficient stomach acid production)
Constipation or diarrhea
Decreased or increased appetite
Craving for sweets
Neuralgia to neuritis
Pain, tingling or achiness
Cold hands and feet
Heightened sensitivity to touch and/or pain
Soreness of the mouth
Burning or itching eyes
Insomnia or sleep disturbances
According to Dr. Richard Murray, "A classical symptom
of B complex deficiency, which has reached cronicity, is a
constant feeling that something dreadful is about to happen.
However, the first and most common complaint, especially among
women, is depression and the tendency to cry without any particular
The consumption of B vitamins particularly B-12, B-6, folic
acid, biotin and niacin may reverse memory problems. Research
conducted at Tufts suggests that blood levels of various B
vitamins that fall at the lower end of the "normal"
range can interfere with mental dexterity. A severe deficiency
does not have to be present for memory impairment to occur.
Studies comparing the mental capacity of individuals taking
B vitamin supplements to those receiving placebos demonstrated
significant improvements in memory. Specifically, they were
given 10 times the RDA of the B vitamins mentioned above for
a period of one year.
A vitamin B complex deficiency puts a tremendous level of
stress on the adrenal glands and often those deficient in
the B's will also need adrenal support. Lying down and resting
for five minutes, taking your blood pressure, then standing
immediately and taking the blood pressure again can assess
low adrenal function. The higher number of the blood pressure
measurement should read at least ten points greater upon standing,
than it was when lying down. If your blood pressure is not
10 points greater or if it goes down when you stand up, reduced
adrenal function is suspect. The degree of hypoadrenalism
is often proportionate to the degree the blood pressure drops
(Balch, 1997: 91, 92).
Let's look at the B vitamins separately to determine what
each one does in the body and what the individual deficiency
symptoms look like.
B-1 (thiamin) is a powerful antioxidant that
is necessary for regulating and normalizing the conversion
of glucose into energy. It provides the neurons (nerve cells)
with important building blocks needed for energy production
and increases blood flow in memory tissue. B-1 is important
for detoxification, heart function, muscle tone of the intestines,
stomach, and heart, and the overall health of the nervous
The body requires higher amounts of B-1 when increased calories
are consumed, particularly starches and sugars.
In the most severe form, B-1 deficiency results in beriberi.
This is relatively uncommon except in alcoholics. A less severe
deficiency can result in symptoms ranging from fatigue, depression,
constipation, edema, enlarged liver, forgetfulness, gastrointestinal
disturbances, loss of appetite, and atrophy of muscle tissue,
to numbness of the legs, or tingling sensations. It is interesting
to note that 30% of those entering psychiatric wards are deficient
in thiamin (Murray, 1996: 83).
The richest food sources of B-1 are brewer’s or nutritional
yeast, brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, liver, nuts,
peas, poultry, rice bran, dulse, kelp, spirulina, wheat germ
and whole grains. A high carbohydrate diet will increase the
need for thiamin and the use of antibiotics, sulfa drugs,
and oral contraceptives may decrease the body's thiamin level.
Generally a daily dosage of 50 to 100 milligrams is adequate.
For those suffering from age related mental decline or Alzheimer's
disease, the therapeutic dose is 3-8 grams daily (with the
whole B complex being taken at some other point during the
In fact, synthetic isolates will draw the accessory nutrients
Note: if you take true whole food vitamins the dosage ranges
will not apply. I have included the dosage ranges for all
the B vitamins, as a guide, for those that want or need to
take synthetic supplements, particularly in therapeutic doses.
Excessive B-1 can deplete other B vitamins and disrupt insulin
and thyroid production.
B-2 (riboflavin) is needed for energy production,
anti-body production, the production of red blood cells, healthy
eyes and skin, and growth. It aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates,
fats, and proteins, and is important in the prevention and
treatment of cataracts. B-2 regenerates glutathione, a powerful
antioxidant that is one of the main protectors of the body's
cells against free-radical damage.
Indications of a riboflavin deficiency include cracking of
the lips and corners of the mouth, an inflamed tongue, loss
of visual perception and sensitivity to light, cataracts,
and burning and/or itching of the eyes, lips, mouth, and tongue.
Other possible symptoms include dizziness, hair loss, insomnia,
poor digestion, and slowed mental response.
Though severe deficiencies of riboflavin are not prevalent,
moderate deficiencies are found quite often and are most common
among the elderly population. Low dietary levels of riboflavin
have been linked to certain esophageal cancers (Murray, 1996:85).
The foods providing the highest levels of B-2 are brewer's
or nutritional yeast, almonds, wheat germ, wild rice, egg
yolks, legumes, liver, fish, and poultry.
5 to 10 milligrams daily is sufficient for general health.
Vitamin B-3 is important to the proper functioning
of the nervous system and aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates,
fats and proteins. It also plays a role in the production
of hydrochloric acid and is involved in the normal secretion
of bile and digestive fluids.
B-3 is available in two forms, niacin and niacinamide. The
body's need for B-3 is satisfied by either form, but in doses
larger than those obtained from food, they have very different
effects in the body.
Niacin lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increases
beneficial HDL cholesterol, increases circulation, improves
brain function by enhancing the oxygen carrying ability of
the red blood cells, regulates blood flow in memory tissue,
and has the ability to mobilize fat from cells into the blood.
Niacin also strengthens GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter.
Niacin can cause a somewhat irritating but harmless flushing
when first taking a dose of 50 milligrams or more. A no-flush
variety, inositol hexanicotinate is the only form of time
release niacin that is recommended; other forms of time-release
niacin are a liver irritant and should not be consumed.
Niacinamide does not cause flushing, will not lower cholesterol
or improve circulation, but has other benefits. It has been
used since the 1940's to reduce insulin requirements of diabetics
and has been found to be very effective in the treatment of
A severe deficiency of B-3 and the amino acid tryptophan will
result in Pellagra, which manifests itself in marked dermatitis,
dementia, and diarrhea. A moderate deficiency can cause these
symptoms to a lesser degree.
Niacin is found in brewer’s or nutritional yeast, liver,
broccoli, carrots, cheese, eggs, fish, raw milk, peanuts,
potatoes, tomatoes, dandelion greens, and wheat germ.
If using pure crystalline niacin, start with a dose of 100
milligrams three times a day and carefully increase the dosage
over a period of 4 to 6 weeks to the full therapeutic dose
of 1.5 to 3 grams daily in divided doses. If you are using
inositol hexaniacinate, begin with 500 milligrams three times
daily for 2 weeks and then increase to 1,000 milligrams. It
is best to take either crystalline niacin or inositol hexaniacinate
with meals (Murray, 1996: 96).
Those suffering from diabetes, glaucoma, gout, liver disease,
or peptic ulcers should use niacin supplements cautiously.
Consuming over 500 mg per day for an extended length of time
may result in liver damage.
Vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid): Every cell
in the body including brain cells requires vitamin B-5. It
plays and important part in synthesizing the adrenal hormones
(important for those under stress), assists in forming antibodies,
enhances the utilization of other vitamins, and promotes the
conversion of choline to acetylcholine, an essential brain
neurotransmitter. It is also essential for the normal functioning
of the gastrointestinal tract, glucose metabolism, optimal
energy levels, and for wound healing.
Therapeutic levels of pantothenic acid are used to support
adrenal and joint function and another form, pantethine, is
used as an aid in lowering blood cholesterol and triglyceride
Many foods contain pantothenic acid, therefore a deficiency
of this nutrient is rare. The Greek word "Panthos,"
from which its name is derived means "everywhere."
The first sign of B-5 deficiency is generally fatigue and
listlessness, and in severe deficiency, the "burning
foot syndrome" is the main characteristic. This would
include symptoms such as numbness and shooting pains.
Most fresh vegetables are good sources for B-5. Brewer's and
nutritional yeast, liver, eggs, mushrooms, avocados, broccoli,
whole grains, bran, peanuts, cashews, legumes, and soybeans
are especially high in B-5.
For general supplementation 4 to 7 milligrams daily is adequate.
For use in adrenal support the therapeutic dose would be 250
milligrams twice daily. 2 grams daily is the therapeutic dose
for rheumatoid arthritis. The dosage of pantethine taken for
the purpose of lowering cholesterol and triglycerides is 300
milligrams, three times daily.
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is involved in a
myriad of bodily functions; more than almost any other single
nutrient. It is needed for the production of the neurotransmitters
norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, which are all necessary
for optimal brain function. B-6 also influences endocrine
function in the brain. Pyridoxine plays and important role
in the growth of red blood cells, the health of skin and mucous
membranes, effective immune function, and it is required for
the proper functioning of more than 60 different enzymes.
B-6 has been used for prevention and treatment of a large
range of degenerative diseases including cancer and arteriosclerosis.
It can be taken therapeutically for conditions such as PMS,
bloating, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, epilepsy, kidney
stones, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, autism, immune
enhancement, MSG sensitivity (those who are sensitive to MSG
are often deficient in B-6), and in diabetes for the prevention
of diabetic complications.
30 - 40% of the population may have problems converting B-6
into P5P (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate), its main active form in
the body. Those who are afflicted with illnesses may be unable
to activate B-6. For these people the activated form of B-6
(P5P) should be taken.
Diets high in protein will increase the body's requirements
for B-6, as does the consumption of alcohol and oral contraceptives.
Depression, convulsion, glucose intolerance, anemia, impaired
nerve function, cracked lips and tongue, headaches, hair loss,
seborrhea and eczema are all characteristic of a B-6 deficiency.
Most foods contain some B-6 but those that are the best sources
include brewers or nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat
germ, walnuts, carrots, legumes, soybeans, chicken, eggs,
fish, organ meats, spinach, blackstrap molasses, and whole
For general supplementation 50 to 100 milligrams of B-6 is
Excess B-6 can deplete other B vitamins, so always take it
in balanced amounts No more than 2,000 milligrams of B-6 should
be taken per day as it can result in symptoms of nerve toxicity.
Therapeutic dosages should not be used long-term unless they
are under a total of 500 milligrams daily. If taking doses
larger than 50 milligrams for therapeutic benefit, the doses
should be divided into 50-milligram doses, which can be taken
during the course of the day. This is important because the
liver is unable to handle more than a 50-milligram dose at
Vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin) stimulates
RNA synthesis in nerve cells, strengthens neurotransmitters,
and increases concentration. It is necessary for myelin formation
and also aids in protecting arteries in the brain by metabolizing
homocysteine. B-12 is and essential nutrient for nervous system
health and production of red blood cells and plays a critical
role in healthy digestive function.
Absorption of vitamin B-12 is dependent on HCL (hydrochloric
acid) in the stomach and the bonding to a substance called
intrinsic factor within the small intestine. Intrinsic factor
is secreted by the parietal cells of the stomach. These cells
are also responsible for the secretion of HCL. The insufficiency
or lack of intrinsic factor has been found more commonly among
those of Scandinavian, English, and Irish descent.
The Schilling test is used to determine if insufficient intrinsic
factor is an issue. The test involves taking a radioactive
form of vitamins B-12 then measuring the level excreted in
the urine. Impaired absorption due to a lack of intrinsic
factor is indicated by a below normal urinary excretion of
It may takes years to develop a B-12 deficiency and the resulting
neurological effects will be noticed before it can be detected
by the usual blood tests. Testing urine levels of methylmelonic
acid is the best way of assessing a B-12 deficiency and will
detect it before the blood levels of B-12 will record outside
the normal range. A B-12 deficiency causes slowly progressing
and irreversible nerve damage. New evidence suggests that
B-12 can be deficient even though pernicious anemia is not
present. Even in cases where the blood does not indicate it,
B-12 may be dangerously deficient and can contribute to such
problems as mental deterioration, confusion, depression, and
other cognitive problems.
Unlike other water-soluble B-vitamins, B-12 is stored in the
liver, kidney, and other body tissues. As a result, signs
and symptoms may not manifest themselves until after 5-6 years
of poor dietary intake or inadequate intrinsic factor. A B-12
deficiency will effect the brain and nervous system long before
pernicious anemia becomes apparent.
Therapeutic levels of vitamin B-12 are used in diseases and
conditions such as AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, senility, compromised
cognitive function, asthma, sulfite sensitivity, depression,
diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus, and low
Deficiencies have been associated with some forms of dementia.
The symptoms associated with a B-12 deficiency are fatigue,
headaches, shortness of breath, sore, beefy red, swollen tongue,
digestive disorders, heart and nervous system disturbances
such as numbness and tingling of the arms or legs, depression,
mental confusion, and memory deficits. B-12 deficiency can
mimic Alzheimer's disease. B-12 is often deficient in vegans
because the predominant source of B-12 is animal products.
It is also prevalent among the elderly population.
A B-12 deficiency is indicative of intestinal dysbiosis or
the overgrowth of toxic bacteria and a disturbance in the
balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Dysbiosis
in turn will result in leaky gut if left untreated. Leaky
gut allows large protein particles, undigested food particles,
and toxins to permeate the intestinal walls and find their
way into the blood stream where they cause all kinds of problems.
This is the starting point of many diseases.
Dysbiosis requires supplementation with the B complex, vitamin
B-12, digestive enzymes, and probiotics such as acidophilus
and bifido bacterium. Zinc and glutamine are helpful in healing
leaky gut. It is beneficial to use all of these supplements
together to address the entire digestive tract. It is also
important to keep the diet free of sugar and processed foods.
The largest amounts of B-12 are found in nutritional yeast,
liver, clams, eggs, meats, fish, and dairy products. Some
B-12 is available from sea vegetables such as dulse, kelp,
kombu, and nori.
For vegetarians, 100 micrograms of B-12 daily is recommended.
Methylcobalamin, the active form of vitamin B-12, in sublingual
tablets is the preferred form of synthetic B-12. The amounts
recommended in deficiency states are 2,000 micrograms daily
for 1 month, followed by 1,000 micrograms daily for 3 to 6
months or until the methylmelonic acid levels in the urine
NOTE: Those with impaired digestive processes or over or under
active thyroid may have problems with B-12 absorption. Because
of this, or if there is a serious B-12 deficiency, a separate
B-12 supplement may be taken in addition to the B complex
until the digestive processes and/or thyroid are normalized
or the deficiency dealt with. This should be taken at a different
time during the day than the B complex. For these people,
it may be advisable to take the active form of B-12 (methylcobalamin)
in a sublingual form. Vitamin B-12 injections are another
possibility, though research has shown that this is no more
efficacious than oral administration of B-12.
Biotin aids in the utilization of other B vitamins, the metabolism
of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, fatty acid production,
and cell growth. It promotes healthy skin and hair, nerve
tissue, and bone marrow, and helps in relieving muscle pain.
Deficiency of biotin is rare because it is produced in the
intestines from foods that contain the vitamin. If a deficiency
does occur it can cause a wide range of symptoms including
anemia, depression, hair loss, hyperglycemia, inflammation
of the skin and mucous membranes, insomnia, loss of appetite,
muscular pain, and nausea. Obviously, those consuming minimal
amounts of biotin containing foods will have greater risk
of developing a deficiency.
Good sources for biotin are nutritional yeast, soybeans, whole
grains, egg yolks, milk, meat, poultry, and saltwater fish.
Antibiotics, sulfa drugs, and saccharin reduce the bioavailability
of biotin as do rancid or oxidized fats and oils. A protein
called avidin that is present in egg whites, binds with biotin
in the digestive tract and can deplete the body of this important
Choline is a B vitamin that is the precursor
of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and is essential for
optimal memory function. Choline is easily absorbed through
the blood brain barrier, helps control harmful levels of homocysteine,
and protects and nourishes other chemicals that support memory.
Choline, along with B-12, is necessary for myelin formation.
Choline also plays a role in gall bladder regulation, liver
function, and lecithin formation, and aids in hormone production
and in fat and cholesterol metabolism.
Choline is a major ingredient in lecithin and lecithin makes
up about 30% of the dry weight of the brain. Lecithin provides
other important nutrients including phospholipids, fats, and
glycolipids. Choline is also found in egg yolks, green leafy
vegetables, liver, soybeans, yeast, and wheat germ. The best
supplemental source is phosphatidyl choline.
Impaired brain function and memory, cardiac symptoms, gastric
ulcers, high blood pressure, inability to digest fats, kidney
and liver impairment, and stunted growth are all possible
results of a choline deficiency.
500 - 1,000 milligrams per day for those aged 65 and under.
Those over 65 may need from 1 - 5 grams per day.
Folate (folic acid) is a nutrient that is
often deficient because it is so fragile. Though folic acid
is present in many foods, its content in food is greatly diminished
by cooking and is progressively lower the longer food is stored
after picking. Because of this folic acid deficiencies are
Folic acid stores in the body are sufficient to sustain the
body for only one to two months. Alcohol consumption impairs
folic acid absorption, disrupts folic acid metabolism, and
causes the body to excrete folic acid. Deficiency is common
among pregnant women. Drugs such as anti-cancer drugs, drugs
for epilepsy, and oral contraceptives also deplete folic acid.
Folic acid deficiency will result in diarrhea and malabsorption
and the same type of anemia caused by B-12 deficiency.
B-12 must always accompany folic acid supplementation to prevent
the folic acid supplement from masking a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Folic acid will correct anemia associated with the B-12 deficiency
but will not remedy the problems that the B-12 deficiency
causes in the nervous system and brain. Folic acid is extremely
important for proper fetal development and prevention of heart
Folic acid works synergistically with vitamin B-12 in many
of the body's processes. It is critical for proper cell division
and healthy nerve tissue. A folic acid deficiency effects
all cells in the body, but the rapidly dividing cells such
as red blood cells and cells of the GI tract are most notably
affected. Some of the symptoms caused by a folic acid deficiency
are anemia, depression, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness,
loss of appetite, and fatigue.
Folic acid is available as folinic acid (5-methyl-tetra-hydrofolate).
Supplementing with this form is more effective in raising
levels of folic acid in the body because it relieves the body
of the job of converting the folic acid into folinic acid.
All dark leafy greens (the foliage that folic acid is named
after) are good food sources of folic acid. These include
kale, spinach, beet greens, and chard. Other sources are nutritional
yeast, rice germ, wheat germ, blackeye peas, beans and lentils,
asparagus, liver, soybeans, wheat bran, and walnuts.
400 - 800 micrograms daily with meals.
High doses of folic acid (5-10 milligrams) may cause gas,
poor appetite, and stomach upset. Those with epilepsy should
avoid folic acid in high doses, because it may result in increased
occurrence of seizures.
If taking pancreatic enzymes, which may reduce folic acid
absorption, take the two supplements four to six hours apart.
Inositol is essential for hair growth, helps prevent hardening
of the arteries, and is important in the formation of lecithin
and the metabolism of fat and cholesterol.
Inositol has a calming effect and has been shown to be very
effective in cases where depression is an issue. Researchers
at Ben Gurion University in Israel demonstrated that supplementing
with inositol successfully reduced depression in patients
who were unresponsive to antidepressants. Inositol is not
only effective, but also safe and non-toxic.
A deficiency in inositol can result in arteriosclerosis, constipation,
hair loss, high blood cholesterol, irritability, mood swings,
and skin eruptions.
Whole grains, nutritional yeast, lecithin, citrus fruits,
nuts, seeds, legumes, unrefined molasses, meats, and dairy.
6 - 12 grams daily, in divided doses.
As we have seen, the B complex vitamins are of extreme importance
to our health and well being and they work together as a team.
Deficiencies can imbalance the whole B complex and deficiencies
such as B-12 can cause severe and permanent damage to the
body. It is important that we take steps to supply this important
complex of vitamins to our bodies, first through our diets
and secondly through proper supplementation.
by Karen Railey
Balch, James F., M.D. and Phyllis A., C.N.C., Prescription
for Nutritional Healing Avery Publishing Group, Garden City
Park, N.Y., 1997
Crayhon, Robert, M.S., Nutrition Made Simple Mt. Evans and
Company, Inc., New York, 1994
DeCava, Judith, The Real Truth About Vitamins and Antioxidants
Murray, Michael, N.D., Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements
Prima Health, Rocklin, CA, 1996
Murray, Michael, N.D., and Pizzorno, Joseph, N.D., Encyclopedia
of Natural Medicine Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA, 1998
Pizzorno, Joseph, N.D., Total Wellness Prima Health, Rocklin,
| Gaspari Nutrition SizeOn
There is not another Creatine cell-volumizing product on the market today.
6-OXO™ contains a naturally occurring aromatase
inhibitor that is devoid of..
Xperience xtreme pumps with Xpand, the all new