Step up your B vitamins

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Do you absorb all the supplements you swallow? Many need B vitamins for energy, digestion, memory, and moods. To ensure optimal absorption, up the ante with activated B vitamins.


B’s with wings

B vitamins are hard work for the body to use. They are dependant on co-factors and coenzymes for absorption and utilisation. If we have poor digestion, a weak liver or lack of cofactors then B vitamins feed the toilet. Activated B vitamins are self-contained and complete for optimal efficiency. These boosted Bs are ready to roll as soon as they slide down your throat. Unlike normal inactive B vitamins, activated B vitamins don’t have to be broken down and bound into an active form. They are biologically active so you get more results for less effort. Activated B vitamins are shunted straight off to make more energy, alertness, tissues and supercharge our systems. It’s a very energy efficient “do less, get more” mode of supplement. Because they are utilised rapidly then less is eliminated. B vitamins are usually made active by adding a phosphate group which equips it for efficiency. Though they are more expensive than inactive forms you get more B for your buck. Many of my patients found their fatigue and brain fog shifted only after taking activated B vitamins. As advocate Dr. John Gray says, “activated vitamins are ready to use to make your brain chemicals.” If you want the best for your body then activated B vitamins outperform inactive B vitamins according to many scientific studies. For example, the active form of folic acid, folinic acid is more readily transported through the blood-brain-barrier into the central nervous system and has a longer half-life in the body than inactive folic acid. A trial found active folinic acid had 700 percent greater absorption than folic acid. Examples of the non-active and activated forms of B vitamins include active B12 methylcobalamin and inactive cynacocobalamin, active B6 pyridoxal-5-phosphate versus inactive B6 pyridoxine hydrochloride.

Do you need B’s?

B’s are essential building blocks for a healthy body. B vitamins are water-soluble and can’t be stored in the body, except B12. Hence we have to get them from our daily diet. Intake may be inadequate due to poor diet, poor digestion, stripping B vitamins through cooking, processing, and long storage. We have an increased need for B vitamins if we are athletes, children, stressed, pregnant, breastfeeding or suffering an infection or digestive disorder such as Crohn’s disease. People who drink excess coffee or alcohol excrete more B vitamins. Free radical damage due to drugs, pollution or electromagnetic radiation also increases B vitamin requirements. B vitamins are interdependent and need to be taken together in the correct proportion to be utilised. When you take a B complex supplement and your urine turns neon yellow it doesn’t mean you haven’t absorbed it, the colour is a by-product of vitamin B2. Symptoms of B deficiency can sneak up on you. Watch out for these signs – anemia, brittle hair, bruising, cracks in corners of the mouth, depression, dry skin, fatigue, flaking nails, hair loss, headaches, joint pain, low appetite, memory loss, mood swings, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling of extremities and shallow sleep.

Don’t worry B happy

What’s the big deal about B’s? Why do you need them? If you want unbounded energy, glowing skin, glossy hair, strong nails, strong muscles, a healthy heart, invincible immunity, and a better brain – B complex is your buddy. Did you know a banana a day can keep the blues away? The B6 in bananas boosts mood-elevating serotonin and “over three-quarters of all depressed patients have a B6 deficiency,” according to Dr Andrew Weil. Here are some reasons to add B complex to your schedule.

  • Alleviate anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
  • Convert food to fuel, metabolise fats and proteins.
  • Improve memory and alertness.
  • Increase energy and immunity.
  • Maximise neuro-muscular system.
  • Reduce ageing by promoting cell growth and repair.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that damages artery walls.
  • Strengthen digestion.
  • Support strong adrenals, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

B warned

It’s better to take B complex in the morning as it can cause a restless sleep. Excess vitamin B3 and B12 can increase skin flushing. Too much vitamin B6 and B9 (folic acid) can be detrimental to kidneys. An overdose of B complex may lead to nausea, palpitations, and anxiety.

About Caroline Robertson
Caroline Robertson is a Sydney-based naturopath specialising in diet and digestion. For consultations contact www.carolinerobertson.com.au.

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