The Vitamin B Family - What are they and why do you need them?
Why take a Vitamin B Complex?
B vitamins in complex form are a family of water-soluble vitamins needed for every cell in the body, and for many biological functions such as energy production, the production of new cells, immunity, brain function, vision and the production of digestive enzymes. There are a few reasons why an additional B complex should be taken alongside a balanced diet.
Complete family of B vitamins – It can be difficult to get the full spectrum of B vitamins each day, especially if you have any dietary restrictions. The full spectrum of B vitamins includes Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Folate (B9), and ideally also includes Para-Amino Benzoic Acid (PABA), Choline and Inositol which are B vitamin like substances. PABA, choline and inositol are not often added to B complexes, yet they are vital for optimal function of the body.
Need replacing daily – B vitamins are water soluble, meaning that they are washed out of the body daily, and need to be replaced. B vitamins are needed for so many functions in the body, that even one day of low intake can have an impact on health.
All B vitamins work together – B vitamins work synergistically with each other, and therefore, if one is missing the others will not function optimally. So they are much better taken together. An example of this is B12 and folate (B9) working together to lower homocysteine levels in the blood, and B5 and B6 working together to make stress hormones.
What are the benefits of taking a B complex daily?
Energy – B vitamins feed directly into the energy production cycle where they are essential for normal energy yielding metabolism and can be beneficial for a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.
Brain function – The brain cells require B vitamins for their function and communication with each other. B vitamins are also needed for the outer coating of the nerves called the myelin sheath which controls the speed of communication between nerve cells.
Heart health – B vitamins, especially vitamins B12 and B9 (folate) are needed for the regulation of a substance called homocysteine. High homocysteine is a marker of cardiovascular disease risk, so it is preferable to keep it low. The cells in the heart muscle are full of energy production centres called mitochondria. The heart never stops and needs a constant supply of energy. B vitamins are highly demanded in such an active muscle.
Sleep – Vitamin B6 is needed for the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This is the hormone that makes you sleepy and takes you into sleep. Melatonin also regulates the sleep-wake cycle and becomes out of balance with international travel and with shift-workers.
Hormone balance – Vitamin B6 is also needed for the regulation of testosterone in both males and females. Testosterone is needed for muscle mass, endurance, and in men, good moods. Ensuring an optimal intake of vitamin B6 may help to balance hormones.
Immunity – B vitamins are needed for the normal function of the immune cells, and without them they cannot function effectively. One of the signs of a vitamin B deficiency is reduced immune function.
A normal stress response – Stress hormones are manufactured in the adrenal glands and allow the body to function is stressful situations. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol require vitamins B5 and B6 for their manufacture. The adrenal glands also require vitamin C, which is released alongside stress hormones.
Why is vitamin C added to Birch and Wilde B complex?
Vitamin C is the only water-soluble vitamin that is not part of the B vitamin family. Vitamin C also works with B vitamins for many functions in the body which is why it is added to Birch and Wilde B complex.
Why the types of B vitamins matter
Vitamins come in different molecular forms, and these different forms of B vitamins make a difference to their function in the body. Ensuring your body receives the form it needs can be vital to successful absorption and function.
For example, there is more than one 'type' of Vitamin B12 or folate (vitamin B9). Both B12 and vitamin B9 folate need to go through a process called methylation. Sometimes our bodies can do this to some extent. But it requires a few steps in processing, and some individuals are not able to do this physiologically. They would therefore struggle to absorb and use the standard forms found in standard vitamins and supplements. They would require a supplement in 'active' or bioavailable form.
The Vitamin B9 folate and B12 in Birch & Wilde Vitamin B products are in their active and end forms. This is just one good example of high bioavailability and improved benefits for those using these supplements. This means the body does not need to process them and they can be used directly by the cells. This is crucial for the large number of people who cannot process standard B vitamins effectively.