B Vitamins – How Good are They and What are the Benefits?
Learn about Vitamin B12 benefits by reading a question and answer from Dr. Leia.
Question for Dr. Leia: Hi Dr. Leia, B Vitamins, how good are they?
I was wondering if you could tell me the benefits of B vitamins and why I should take them?
I am in my twenties, and wonder if taking supplements is really all that important, especially at my age. I eat
pretty well, and don’t eat to much junk food, but if taking all the B’s are important then could you also give me
a list of foods high in B vitamins so I can add them to my diet.
And what’s the difference between them, say what is B-6 and what is B-12 before I go and buy B vitamins and find
out I am buying the wrong ones? Thanks Kila
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Dear Kila, B vitamins are a group of water soluble vitamins which have been designated
with a numerical name along with its scientific name. Water soluble refers to the fact that these vitamins are not
stored in the body fat for long periods of time, but are excreted out via the urinary tract a soon after ingestion.
This means that the B vitamins need to be replenished daily since they are not stored in the body similar to the
fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A and E. The B vitamins are extremely important to our health and well being
and in most cases each vitamin has a specific function in the human body.
The discovery of most of the B vitamins has a long and varied history. Scientists recognized, isolated, and identified
each vitamin individually by noticing that there were certain substances which could prevent symptoms or diseases
in their patients. As a whole, the B vitamins are important for many different enzymatic and chemical reactions which
occur in the body at a cellular level. They are important for proper nerve function, energy regulation, eye, hair,
and skin health, hormonal production, muscle strength, mental and emotional health, red blood cell production, and
These are just a few of the benefits of the B vitamins. Usually, B vitamins are produced in combination form, meaning
that all the B vitamins are present in one capsule. It is generally advisable to take the B vitamins in this form
because they act synergistically and are better absorbed by the body when taken together.
You mentioned the two most popular B vitamins: Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. These two vitamins are extremely important
and there has been a lot of research over the years to show their importance.
Vitamin B6 , also called pyridoxine, is an essential vitamin for human health and well-being. It is widespread
in foods such as meats, cereals, lentils, nuts, and some vegetables and fruit. A serious deficiency of B6 could
manifest as dermatitis, canker sores, weakness, irritability, nervousness, insomnia, and even difficulty walking.
Doctors also prescribe B6 supplementation for carpal tunnel syndrome and other tendon, ligament, or joint disorders.
Some people are unable to absorb or convert vitamin B6 into an active form, so in these cases, pyridoxal-5-phosphate,
a coenzyme form of B6, is usually recommended and available.
Vitamin B12 is equally or more important than vitamin B6. Vitamin B12 is usually available as cyanocobalamin, and
is paired with folic acid, another important B vitamin. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause anemia, glossitis (a
tongue disorder), jaundice, nerve damage, and elevated homocysteine levels.
Vegans or vegetarians definitely need to supplement their diet with Vitamin B12 because they are unable to produce
a crucial substance called intrinsic factor in their digestive system. This intrinsic factor is produced in the gut
by the breakdown of bacteria which are only present in meat eaters or carnivores. Long time vegans and vegetarians
are deficient in vitamin B12 and are at a high risk for coming down with anemia and subsequent neurological damage,
which can be reversed when supplemented with vitamin B12. The usual dietary sources of vitamin B12 are limited to
meat, and meat products, including shellfish, fish and poultry, and to a lesser extent, milk and milk products. Organ
meats such as lamb and beef liver, kidney and heart are the richest sources of vitamin B12.
I will mention the B vitamin, folic acid here also, because it is usually supplemented in conjunction with vitamin
B12. However, it is more abundantly found in foods than is vitamin B12. Folic acid can mask the symptoms of vitamin
B12 deficiency because of its abundancy in foods such as yeast, liver, organ meats, fresh green vegetables, and some
fresh fruit. (Please refer to a vitamin chart to see the extensive list of foods containing folates and Vitamin B6).
High doses of folic acid are recommended for pregnant women so to prevent spina bifida disorders in the unborn child
as it is developing in the womb. The best form of supplementation of vitamin B12 is sublingual or nasal gel. Vitamin
B12 is not absorbed well from the digestive tract when it is taken orally as a capsule. Therefore it should be supplemented
sublingually or as a nasal gel, in order to by-pass the gastrointestinal tract.
I feel that it is important to supplement so the you get the benefits of B vitamins, especially today because of
the depleted soils upon which our modern food is grown, and also because of the important role that the B vitamins
play in the human body. If you are vegan or vegetarian, then added vitamin B12 is a necessity, and not a luxury.
Unless you have muscular-skeletal problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, probably you will receive enough vitamin
B6 in the combination multi B vitamin tablet or capsule.
I hope that this gives you a better understanding of foods high in B vitamins and their importance in relation to
the health and maintenance of the body.
By Dr. Leia Melead
B Vitamins Reduce Heart Disease in Women
A fourteen year research study revealed that two B Vitamins may improve and support the heart health of women.
Harvard University research revealed both Folic Acid and Vitamin B6 may reduce the risks of developing cardiovascular
disease in females, by up to forty-five percent.
This was from a study of eighty thousand nurses. The study revealed that ninety-five
percent who took the highest supplementation of Folic Acid — average amount of 696 mcg per day — along with and
Vitamin B6 — 4.6 mg per day had a reduced incidence of heart
It has also been noted by researchers that food and supplements provide equal sources of folate and
B6, however women may find that to ingest the needed amounts supplementation provide that means.
Vitamin B Supplements Also Help Cracks in Corner of the Mouth
Question for Dr. Leia: For years now I go through periods when the corners of my lips “crack”, are very tender and will have a white film on them. I feel like this is a nutritional issue but would like to find out possibilities so I can heal and prevent further out breaks. It is not a herpes type eruption. Thank You, Jill Hahn
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Usually cracks on the corners of the lips and mouth could indicate a deficiency of B vitamins, specifically B2 or riboflavin. However, if you are on any prescription medications or antibiotics, the cracks could also be a side effect from these drugs.
Considering that you have a healthy balanced diet, are on no medications, don’t have excessive sun exposure on your face, and do not have any other diseases, then you could try taking a full spectrum multiple B complex vitamin.
However, what concerns me about your cracks is the fact that they have a white film over them. This film could indicate a more serious problem, infection, or skin disease. So, just to be on the safe side, I would advise you to visit your doctor or skin specialist and have him/her check out these cracks to make sure that it is nothing more serious. Good luck in your diagnosis.