A vitamin is an essential nutrient. The human body cannot create its own vitamins, and if a specific vitamin is missing, predictable symptoms will occur. For example, if you don’t eat enough vitamin C symptoms of scurvy may appear. B vitamins are commonly prescribed in Naturopathic practice as they are an important part of good health and managing stress.
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble compounds which support energy production in cells. Most vitamins were discovered in the first half of the 20th century. Have you ever wondered why there is no vitamin B4? As we learn more about vitamins, science has revealed that some compounds which had been labeled as vitamins were in fact non-essential. The body could produce it’s own, or the compound was not needed for proper functioning. It’s kind of like when Pluto lost its planet status!
Why do we care about the demoted B vitamins? Orthomolecular medicine uses targeted doses of nutritional compounds to produce a therapeutic effect in the body. Although you won’t be deficient in vitamin B4, it may still help treat symptoms.
Formerly known as: Vitamin B4
Current name: Choline
Choline’s biggest role in the body is being used to make acetylcholine which plays an important role in muscle contraction, hormone regulation and sleep. Choline is also involved in brain development, the formation of various lipids and works as a methyl donor. Genetic variations in methylation may play a role in depression.
Choline is being researched for it’s a potential role in treating fatty liver disease, high homoysteine, blepharospasm, hyperthyroidism and bipolar disorder.
Formerly known as: Vitamin B8
Current name: Inositol
Inositol exists in two forms, myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol. Inositol is used to make phospholipids which are a key component of cell membranes. They are also used in the phosphatidylinositol cycle which is linked to the noradrenergic, serotonergic and cholinergic receptors. These receptors are important for alertness, mood regulation and muscle function. Inositol can also support uptake of glucose into the cells, leading to decreased sugar in the bloodstream.
Inositol may have the potential to prevent depression, diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also a favorite compound recommended by Cathryn Coe, ND to improve sleep, lower BP and cholesterol, and support balanced testosterone levels. *Note that inositol in any form is contraindicated in bipolar disorder as it may exacerbate symptoms.
Formerly known as: Vitamin B10
Current name: PABA
Research suggests PABA can increase the effect of estrogen and glucocorticoids in the body. As glucocorticoids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the body, it may have a therapeutic role in autoimmune conditions such as scleroderma, dermatomyositis, Dupuytren’s contracture, Peyronie’s disease. PABA is also used to make folic acid.
Most commonly, B vitamins are recommended in a B complex for patients experiencing stress, fatigue, low mood and difficulty losing weight. Feeling better overall helps us reach our health goals and can improve our sense of well being. Remember to take your B’s earlier in the day, with breakfast or lunch, and always with food.
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B vitamins. En.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_vitamins. Published 2019. Accessed December 7, 2019.