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B Vitamins for Brain Health

Why is vitamin B important?

Not everyone is a nutritionist, dietician or well-versed in natural health. For those people, the letters and numbers that explain the world of supplements can seem pretty daunting. B (that is, Vitamin B) is one such letter.

So what is Vitamin B really? And is it important?

Vitamin B is actually one of the essential vitamins for the human body. Enhancing our overall health and well-being, vitamin B plays a crucial role in improving our energy levels, cell metabolism, and brain function.

However, as the human body cannot store B vitamins for a long period, we need to consume them daily through the food we eat. Because B vitamins are abundant in whole grains, green vegetables, you should incorporate these foods into your daily menu.

Types of vitamin B

There are eight kinds of vitamin B, which are often grouped together. Each of them has a unique role in the human body. These are

Vitamin B-1 (or “thiamine”)

Vitamin B-2 (or “riboflavin”)

Vitamin B-3 (or “niacin”)

Vitamin B-5 (or “pantothenic acid”)

Vitamin B-6 (or “pyridoxine”)

Vitamin B-7 (or “biotin”)

Vitamin B-9 (or “folate”)

Vitamin B-12 (or “cyanocobalamin”)

Benefits of vitamin B

With an adequate intake of vitamin B, you can reap many health benefits. Given below are some of these:

1. Lowers stroke risk

A 2013 study published in an online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, revealed that vitamin B supplements could lower the risk of stroke by as much as 7 percent.

Vitamins, especially B-9, B6, and B-12, decrease the homocysteine levels in our bodies, potentially contributing to the prevention of strokes.

However, before consuming vitamins daily, it is recommended to speak with your physician.

2. Prevents Beriberi

The deficiency of vitamin B-1 causes Thiamine deficiency (also called Beriberi). There are two types of Beriberi: wet Beriberi and dry Beriberi. The former affects the heart and circulatory system, while the latter leads to decreased muscle strength. If not treated timely, Beriberi can be fatal.

Alcohol addicts and malnourished adults are the common preys of this disease. Symptoms include loss of sensation in hands and feet, difficulty walking, and paralysis of lower legs.

Beriberi can be treated with thiamine supplements. In fact, people who consume alcohol in large amounts should take vitamin B to prevent Beriberi. 1.1 mg for women over age 18 and 1.2 mg for men over age 14 is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Thiamin.

3. Boosts the immune system

Our body’s immunity depends on a balance of minerals and vitamins. Vitamin B-6 keeps the immune system strong as it transports oxygen throughout the body and is responsible for making new red blood cells.

The deficiency of vitamin B-6 reduces antibodies, which are crucial to fighting infections. B-6 is also the key vitamin that produces white blood cells and T cells, both of which regulate immune responses.

Consumption of foods rich in vitamin B-6 like pork, poultry, soya beans, milk, bananas, and oats can help you keep your immune system healthy, protecting you from diseases and infections.

4. Breaks down food into energy

Consumption of vitamin B-3 helps break down the food we eat to produce energy, helping us do our day-to-day work more efficiently. Though vitamin B itself is not a producer of energy, it helps convert dietary energy into ATP (short for “adenosine triphosphate”), the form of energy that our body uses. Neither are B vitamins stimulants like caffeine.

Deficiency of vitamin B-3 can also cause disorders such as pellagra. The symptoms of pellagra are dementia, dermatitis, diarrhea, physical and mental difficulties. Due to alcoholism, the body is unable to absorb niacin, which causes pellagra. Adequate intake of vitamin B-3 can help in the prevention of pellagra.

Niacin is also used to treat high blood levels of cholesterol. It limits the liver’s ability to produce low-density lipoprotein, i.e., the bad cholesterol.

5. Prevents Anemia

Deficiency of vitamin B-12 causes Pernicious anemia (or “Addison’s anemia”), a form of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia. Proper intake of vitamin B-12 encourages the production of healthy red blood cells. This vitamin is found in meat, fish, milk, egg, and other dairy products.

The common cause of Pernicious anemia is the loss of stomach cells that make the intrinsic factor, also known as gastric intrinsic factor. The intrinsic factor is a glycoprotein produced by the stomach’s parietal cells that helps the body absorb vitamin B-12 in the intestine.

Apart from necessary diet changes, this disease can be treated easily with doctor-prescribed vitamin B-12 pills and shots.

Sources of vitamin B

1. Spirulina

Spirulina is a Cyanobacteria (also known as “Cyanophyta”), and has high nutrients, including protein, B-1, B-2, B-3, copper, and iron. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful antioxidant.

Spirulina has multiple benefits for both body and brain. It contains magnesium, which supports normal daily functions such as muscle use and heartbeat. It also lowers bad Low-density lipoprotein (LPL) levels and reduces blood pressure.

Spirulina also contains phycocyanin, a plant pigment giving it its blue-green color. Phycocyanin reduces inflammation in the body, along with blocking tumor growth and killing cancer cells.

2. Chlorella

Chlorella is a green freshwater alga filled with nutrients including antioxidants, vitamin B-12, protein, omega-3’s, and fiber. It helps improve cholesterol and enhances one’s immune system.

Chlorella also helps in detoxing the body by removing harmful heavy metals and compounds from the body. Larger amounts of heavy metals such as iron, copper, lead, and cadmium can be toxic for our bodies. Chlorella, however, weakens this toxicity.

3. B-Complex

B-Complex contains 8 B vitamins, including B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9, and B-12. The health benefits include cellular health, growth of red blood cells, energy levels, healthy brain function, good digestion, proper nerve function, healthy appetite, and cardiovascular health.

All these B vitamins are especially essential for pregnant or breastfeeding women as they help in fetal brain development, reducing the risk of birth defects. Moreover, they are also beneficial for men, increasing their testosterone levels.

B vitamins are extremely significant for the proper functioning of our bodies. Deficiency of these vitamins can cause many fatal diseases and disorders. Therefore, it is necessary to take sufficient doses of Vitamin B as prescribed by the physician.

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