What are B-Vitamins and why are they a family?
B-Vitamins make an untidy family. They aren’t even much of a family since they have different functions in the body. They are similar only because they are all water soluble and found in the same foods but beyond that their isn’t much family resemblance.
There are 8 members of the B vitamin family. Being water soluble, excess amounts of any B vitamin will be excreted in the urine. There is therefore little risk of consuming too much of these vitamins. They can be stored in limited amounts in the liver.
B5 Pantothenic Acid
The odd numbering is explained by the discovery that some substances thought to be B vitamins later turned out not to be vitamins. (Some were manufactured in the body disqualifying them. Others were not organic or necessary to humans.) The result is this untidy grouping of B vitamins, some of which don’t even rate a number.
What do they do?
Together the B-Vitamins are essential for:
- Breaking down carbohydrates into glucose (energy production)
- Breaking down fats and proteins Muscle tone in stomach and intestines
What dosage do you need?
In general, people seem to get an adequate supply of B vitamins in the diet. Many others receive them in multi-vitamins or fortified foods. Recent studies suggest that B3 or Niacin may be important in treating Alzheimer’s. While it may not be necessary to supplement for other members of the B vitamin family, B3 may be different, particularly for older individuals.
Why is B3 or Niacin different?
First, Vitamin B3 is a water soluble vitamin that is used in the body to form the co enzymes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP). These coenzymes are necessary for the energy production of 200 or so enzymes which require niacin co enzymes (NAD and NADP) to accept or donate electrons for redox reations. In addition, NAD is also involved in non redox reactions which seem to be involved in cell signaling but these reactions are less well understood.
Does B3 is prevent any diseases?
Perhaps. Studies of cultured cells show that NAD content influences the cellular response to DNA damage which is a risk factor in cancer development. Other studies have linked NAD levels to leukemia and skin cancers but none of these studies were done on humans. Recent studies on humans have shown that consumption of niacin along with anti-oxidant nutrients reduced cancers in the mouth, throat and esophagus.
Does B3 treat disease?
Perhaps, again. Recently, researchers at the University of California, Irvine have found that huge doses of B3 effectively relieved all symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in affected mice. While no human studies are completed, there is good reason to use B3 to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s. The first is that the symptoms associated with B3 deficiency are quite similar to those of Alzheimer’s The second is that there are no negative affects from large doses of B3.
What is the RDA?
The RDA for B3 is 16 mg per day for males over 19 and 14 mg per day for females.
What is the suggested dosage for treating Alzheimer’s?
The dosage equivalent for humans to that used in the mouse study is 1,000 mg, three times a day. This is very much higher than the RDA but these doses have proved to be safe for most individuals (a very few individuals report nausea and need to reduce dosage but most have no problems with that dosage.)
While you may not need to worry about other members of the B Vitamin family, niacin or B3 may be important in preventing or reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.