Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
The first vitamin to be isolated was Thiamine, and it plays an important role in producing energy and metabolizing carbohydrates. Thiamine needs to combine with pyruvic acid to produce energy. It also plays the role of a co-enzyme for the body to produce acetylcholine.
Thiamine is an absolutely potent antioxidant. Therefore, thiamine is crucial in promoting growth. Thiamine can be obtained from food sources such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, yeast, pork and beef. Unfortunately, you get very little thiamine from polished white rice. One other important point about thiamine is that it is heat sensitive.
The need for vitamin B1 rises when one is under stress and ill, and also when undergoing surgery. Alcoholics, people with poor dietary intake and chronic disease patients are among those who usually suffer from vitamin B1 deficiency. The result of this is apathy, anorexia, irritability and generalized weakness.
In persistent cases, beriberi may result, compounded with symptoms of enlarged heart, peripheral neuritis and peripheral edema. In cases of dry beriberi, diminished reflexes and symmetrical peripheral neuropathy of the motor and sensory nerves usually results. Patients on diuretics will also end up losing more thiamine. Hemodialysis treatments also lead to higher loss.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
This vitamin is essential for the metabolism of fat, carbohydrate and protein. It aids in growth and reproduction, promotes healthy skin, nail and hair, helps in reducing sore mouth, lips and tongue and alleviates eye fatigue. It is an antioxidant and it protects the body against free radicals. Dietary sources are milk, meat, egg, broccoli and legumes. Deficiency may result in mucocutaneous lesions, skin abnormalities and corneal vascularization.
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
This is important for fatty acid synthesis and protein metabolism. It is needed for the maintenance of healthy skin, nerves and gastrointestinal tract. Niacin has been shown to reduce low density lipoprotein cholesterol and increase high density lipoprotein cholesterol. Niacin is found in protein rich food such as meat, fish, yeast, legumes and nuts. Deficiency results in pellagra, loss of appetite, gen¬eral weakness, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
Pantothenic acid is important for the conversion of fat and sugar into energy. It is used for the synthesis of coenzyme A for biochemical reactions and functions as a coenzyme in carboxylation reactions.
It is vital for adrenal function and antibody production. It aids in wound healing. It prevents fatigue. Pantothenic acid is produced by bacteria in our intestines. Rich sources arc found in meat, legumes and whole grain cereals.
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
Pyridoxine is important for amino acid metabolism, heme and neurotransmitter synthesis. This is essential for the synthesis of antibodies and right blood cells and is required for the absorption of vitamin B12. Dietary sources include legumes, nuts, wheat germ, cabbage, eggs, and beef.
Deficiency results in seborrhoeic dermatitis, glossitis, stomatitis and cheilosis. It may also result in general weakness, peripheral neuropathy and hyperhomocystinemia. The requirement for vitamin B6 is increased when high protein diets are consumed. Vitamin B6 helps prevent various nervous and skin diseases. It relieves nausea and is used for morning sickness from pregnancy. It promotes the synthesis of anti-aging nucleic acid, helps reduce dry mouth and works as a natural diuretic. Vitamin B6 reduces the requirement for insulin in diabetics.
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
This interacts with vitamin B12 and is important for DNA synthesis. It is essential for hemoglobin and right blood cell formation. It is also important for protein, amino acid and sugar metabolism. A deficiency of folic acid causes anemia, poor growth and irritation of the skin.
The need for folic acid increases during pregnancy and lactation. The daily recommended allowance for folic acid is 400 mcg. This is double in pregnancy. Heavy drinker also needs to increase folic acid intake. Large doses of vitamin C increases urinary excretion of folic acid. Dietary sources include liver, yeast, and green vegetables.
Folic acid improves lactation and may protect against food poisoning. It promotes healthy skin, delays hair graying and improves appetite. It may also provide pain relief. Folate is essential for the repair and replication of DNA. Folate deficiency plays a part in many types of cancer, including colon cancer, rectal cancers, breast cancer, pancreatic and brain cancer.
Folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 reduce the levels of homocysteine, which plays a crucial role in heart disease. In fact, homocysteine levels correlate much better than the levels of cholesterol in patients with heart disease. There is also a link between folate deficiency and depression. Adequate level of blare can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
Vitamin B12 is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This is essential for the formation and regeneration of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is required for the formation of nerve sheaths. It promotes growth and improves appetite in children. It is important for maintaining a healthy nervous system.
Vitamin B12 absorption depends on the availability of intrinsic factor from the stomach. Thus patients who had part of their stomach removed may have difficulty absorbing sufficient vitamin B12. They may then develop pernicious anemia which causes weakness, numbness, pallor, fever arid other symptoms. These patients may require regular injections of vitamin B12 for optimal health. Rich sources of vitamin B12 include egg yolk, poultry and milk. Vitamin B12 is not found in plant food sources.
Orotic Acid (Vitamin B13)
This is important for the metabolism of folic acid and vitamin B12. It prevents alcoholic liver problems and premature aging. It may help in multiple sclerosis. It is found in root vegetables and whey.
Pangamic Acid (Vitamin B15)
This is an antioxidant and may extend cell life span. It may reduce the craving for alcoholic liquor and lower blood cholesterol. It may protect against pollution and relieve the symptoms of angina and asthma. It also stimulates immune responses.
This combines with choline to form lecithin and is important for brain function. It is important for the metabolism of fats and cholesterol. It promotes healthy hair and reduces eczema. It helps lower cholesterol levels. Dietary sources are liver, yeast, dried lima beans, cantaloupe, grapefruit, raisins, peanuts, cabbage. Heavy coffee drinkers may need supplemental inositol.
This is another B family vitamin. It is important for fat and cholesterol utilization. It emulsifies cholesterol so that it doesn’t settle on artery walls or in the gallbladder to form gallstones. Choline can penetrate the blood brain barrier and may aid memory. It aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, especially those associated with the formation of memory.
It helps to eliminate poisons and drugs by aiding the liver. It may help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Deficiency may result in cirrhosis, fatty liver, hardening of the arteries and Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary sources include c yolk, heart, green leafy vegetables, yeast, liver and wheat germ.
Para Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)
This can be synthesized in the body. It helps form folic add and is important in the utilization of protein. It helps in the assimilation of pantothenic acid. It has sun-screening properties. Thus, used as an ointment it can protect against sunburn. It reduces the pain of burns. It helps to delay wrinkles and keep skin healthy. It may restore natural color to the hair. Dietary sources include liver, yeast, kidney, whole grains, rice, bran and wheat germ. Penicillin and sulpha drugs increase the need for PABA.