B B B bouncy B vitamins! Remember this and you will remember what they are for!
B Vitamins, apart from making your wee fluoro yellow, (just for interest sake, and because I get asked this all the time, B vitamins make your urine yellow not because you are having too much and weeing them out, but because it is a natural bi product of B vitamin metabolism that happens in everybody!) are extremely busy and useful vitamins in the human body. Consisting of B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9 (folate) and 12, the family of B vitamins come a very close 2nd to Magnesium in the awesome stakes.
Collectively, B vitamins help to maintain our nervous system, are cofactors in millions of chemical reactions in the body, metabolise carbohydrates (sugars), are antioxidant, support adrenal function, convert fats, maintain electrolyte balance and balance hormones. Each B vitamin has a slightly different role, but all are equally important.
B vitamins are all water soluble nutrients, meaning they require water to both be absorbed into our cells, and then assimilated so they can go and perform their functions. It is also important to remember that B vitamins are best taken all in unison, as opposed to taking isolated, single B vitamins such as just taking B1. Whilst you can target a specific B vitamin, you must either take it in conjunction with a B complex, or take your B vitamin with food naturally rich in B vitamins such as eggs, chicken, greens and nuts.
Symptoms that you may experience when you are low in B vitamins can range from anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness, pins and needles in your fingers and toes, sugar cravings, irregular periods, irritability, PMS and anaemia to name just a few.
As I have covered in previous editorials, there is a lot to be said for having B vitamins in their ‘activated’ form. When we consume foods that contain B vitamins, or we take regular B vitamin supplements (including multivitamins), those B vitamins then have to go through an activation process in the body to then make it into an “usable and absorbable” form that our body recognises. This takes work, and some B vitamins require a genetic code in order to carry out this activation process, which is missing or under functioning in approximately 10% of people! This is the MTHFR gene, which is extremely important in absorption and conversion of folate and B12, crucial in pregnancy and preconception care. A simple $50 DNA test can see if you have and MTHFR deficits.
However, just to complicate things, activated B vitamins are not readily available in retail shops, and are only available from qualified health care professionals, Naturopaths, Nutritionists and integrative GP’s.
As with any supplements, always have a thorough assessment with a natural health care practitioner. It’s never straight forward and we are trained to recognise and identify deficiency symptoms. Really try and avoid self diagnosing, invest in a consultation as a once off appointment if you like, just to get the once over and find out what the best foods and nutrients are for you and your body.