Vitamin B12 helps keep energy up and protects nerve coverings. B12 is needed in the production of red blood cells and in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, important rebuilding processes in the body.

B-vitamins play a critical role in brain function. The B-complex vitamins are actually a group of eight vitamins, which include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), cyanocobalamin (B12), pantothenic acid and biotin. Main food sources of B vitamins are beans and green leafy vegetables.

B group vitamins [thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, cyanocobalamin and biotin] - essential for:

  • proper functioning of our nervous system
  • conversion of food in to energy
  • proper functioning of various metabolic activities, such as amino acid metabolism, nitrogen metabolism, and
  • for the healthy skin.

Sources: whole grains, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, dry fruits, nuts, milk, egg, soy beans, animal sources such as liver, egg, meat, cheeses etc.

Deficiency Results in: diseases like Beriberi, Anemia, poor resistance to diseases, etc.

Key B Vitamins

Thiamine [Vitamin B-1] - supports energy metabolism and nerve function. A circulatory enhancer and for maintaining muscle tone of the heart, stomach and intestines. Alzheimer patients, not deficient in B1, given oral supplementation of a thiamine derivative had a mild beneficial effect on emotional as well as intellectual functions. Thiamine deficiency causes cognitive dysfunction and is fully expressed in malnourished alcoholics as Wernicke's psychosis.

Sources: spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk

B2 [Riboflavin] - Supports energy metabolism, normal vision and skin health

Sources: spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams

B3 [Niacin] - Supports energy metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system. Niacin deficiency presents as dementia, dermatitis, and diarrhea.

Sources: spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp

B6 [Pyridoxine] - Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production

Sources: bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast

B9 Folic Acid is a coenzyme that helps cells with the process of cell division and replication. Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation; blood cell production and protein metabolism. Reduces susceptibility to infection. Lowers the risk of heart disease by preventing damage to the inner lining of arteries Low blood levels of folate correlated to an increased likelihood of difficulties with short-term memory, stroke, dementia and depression.

Sources: tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans. Supplement Recommended Dose: 400 mcg for long-term safe level.

Inositol - a B vitamin necessary for fat and cholesterol metabolism and for fat mobilization from the liver, shows therapeutic benefit in Alzheimer's patients. Language and orientation skills were significantly improved with therapeutic doses of inositol in Alzheimer's Disease.

Biotin - Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis.

Sources: widespread in foods

Pantothenic Acid - Supports energy metabolism

Sources: widespread in foods

Vitamin B-12 [cobalamin] - Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids. Vitamin B12 is necessary for processing carbohydrates, proteins and fats and to help make all of the blood cells in our bodies. Vitamin B12 is also required for maintenance of our nerve sheaths and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 acts as a coenzyme in the synthesis and repair of DNA.

A B12 deficiency has been implicated as a cause of vascular disease, which can impact the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Veterans with subnormal B-12 blood levels experienced deficits in cognitive performance. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a notable cause of numbness, tingling, incoordination, and impaired cognitive function.

Sources: meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs

Next: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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