Vitamin B often appears on lists of essential nutrients, especially when it comes to boosting energy levels or improving skin health. So, what exactly is Vitamin B? And what are the differences between its various sub-vitamins?
Within the B vitamin complex, there are eight different B vitamins, most notably Vitamin B-6 and Vitamin B-12. While they both play a role in energy production, they also have their own unique and separate tasks that are crucial to our everyday functioning.
This article will help illustrate the differences and similarities between Vitamins B-6 and B-12 and discuss the potential benefits they offer the body. It will also help answer whether or not a Vitamin B supplement is right for you.
What is the B Vitamin complex?
B vitamins are in charge of a variety of jobs that are integral to the human body’s proper function. Firstly, B vitamins are needed in order to make red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, energizing our tissues and organs and then remove toxic carbon dioxide to the lungs, where they can dispose of it. Red blood cells have a short life span of around 120 days, so B vitamins are constantly needed in order to replenish our supply.
Additionally, B vitamins allow varying enzymes of the body to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins from the foods we eat and convert them into energy our bodies can use to create cellular energy.
In fact, the process of cellular energy production relies heavily on B vitamins. The mitochondria, the powerhouses present in almost every cell in the human body (except for the red blood cells), use oxygen from the red blood cells and this broken-down food to create the energy the cell needs to perform its daily tasks. Antioxidants like CoQ10 support the mitochondria as they power practically all cell activity.
B Vitamins like B-6 and B-12 also facilitate the breaking down of a protein called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine may allow for an increase in blood clots, excess free radicals (which can cause cell damage if not neutralized), and general weakening of necessary blood vessel function. By breaking down homocysteine, B vitamins are able to lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline and various neurological disorders.
B vitamins also support the nervous system and promote better energy levels. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are stored in the liver and are metabolized by the liver.
What is Vitamin B-6?
In addition to its many tasks as a B vitamin. Vitamin B-6 supports immune function and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because of the role it plays in neurotransmitter synthesis, Vitamin B-6 supports optimal brain health.
It can be found in meats, fruits, and vegetables, especially salmon, tuna, poultry, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, fortified cereals, papayas and cantaloupe. One banana contains about one third of your daily recommended serving.
What is Vitamin B-12?
Vitamin B-12 is unique in that it has a metal ion (cobalt) in its system, the only known element of its kind. Because of its role in forming blood cells, sufficient levels of Vitamin B-12 can help prevent anemia caused by a B12 or red blood cell deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 is also needed to form DNA, which carries the genetic formula that makes us who we are. It plays an essential role in developing brain and nerve cells, also allowing them to function at their best.
Animal sources are all high in Vitamin B-12, especially fish, shellfish, red meat, eggs, dairy products, poultry and fortified breakfast cereals. Enriched soy or rice milks are great vegetarian/vegan options.
Vitamin B and brain health
Vitamin B-6 and Vitamin B-12 both play roles in maintaining a healthy mental state and overall brain wellness.
As mentioned earlier, Vitamin B-6 plays a vital role in brain health, specifically in neurotransmitter synthesis. Two of these neurotransmitters include dopamine and serotonin, which control how we experience pleasure and happiness and therefore are very crucial in controlling our moods. Vitamin B-6 can positively alter the body’s levels of these two neurotransmitters, leading to healthy mental and emotional wellness.
Who needs Vitamin B supplements
It is estimated that around half of all adults over 50 struggle to get enough Vitamin B from their diets. This is not necessarily because they are not eating enough Vitamin B-rich foods, but rather because their digestive system is less able to absorb Vitamin B from these foods, and also because their stores of Vitamin B start to deplete over time. Issues of absorption will also affect people with digestive conditions such as Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease.
People with dietary restrictions such as vegetarians, vegans, and those with lactose intolerances, may also struggle to get enough Vitamin B, especially Vitamin B-12.
If you are worried as to whether your body is getting enough Vitamin B, talk to your doctor to make sure. B vitamins can be helpful to the body when experiencing a deficiency or insufficiency but taking a B vitamin supplement when your body already has enough Vitamin B is not necessary, and can even cause unwanted damage. Too much Vitamin B-6, for example, can lead to nerve damage (which can be reversible once B-6 levels go down again).
You should generally discuss any new supplement you may want to take with your primary care doctor.
Should you take Vitamin B supplements?
Vitamin B is in charge of many vital tasks throughout the body, from facilitating better oxygen circulation and improving energy levels to reducing risk for cardiovascular disease. If you are Vitamin B deficient and your doctor recommends a supplement you should follow their treatment plan. However, as mentioned above, a Vitamin B supplement is not necessarily helpful if you have sufficient levels of it already.
If you are searching for better energy levels and less fatigue, but do not qualify for a Vitamin B supplement, you might want to try a CoQ10 supplement instead. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that helps the mitochondria turn the oxygen carried to it by red blood cells and the nutrients from our food, broken down under the watchful eye of Vitamin B, into cellular energy. This energy is the fuel for almost all cell activity, and keeps our body functioning at its best, with better overall energy, cognitive function, immune system strength, and so much more.
During the process of energy production, the mitochondria release a waste called free radicals. You might remember this term from earlier when we talked about homocysteine--excess free radicals can damage the cells. It is CoQ10’s job to stabilize these free radicals, in order to insure they cannot enact harm on the cells of our body. When there is a balance between CoQ10 and free radicals, the mitochondria and cells are healthier, and therefore the body is healthier and more energized.
Our CoQ10 levels naturally drop as we get older, so most people can benefit from a CoQ10 supplement to replenish their stores and reduce the adverse effects of too many free radicals.
The breakthrough science of MitoQ offers an enhanced formula of CoQ10, smaller, positively-charged, and more able to be absorbed past the tough mitochondrial double membrane.
A MitoQ supplement can help support immunity, overall organ health, mental focus, sleep quality, healthy aging, and sustained energy levels, among so many other things.
With its innumerous benefits, MitoQ is a great supplement for anyone looking to improve their overall health and promote optimal activity for each of your trillions of cells.
What else can you do to stay healthy?
In addition to vitamin supplements like MitoQ, a healthy lifestyle will go a long way in helping you feel your best. Here are some tips for keeping your body functioning well:
- Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep 7-9 hours every night
- Stay hydrated
- Eliminate stress
B vitamins play an important role in maintaining our body’s overall health, so if you are concerned about whether or not you need to take a Vitamin B supplement, talk to your doctor. Otherwise, practicing good health habits will immensely benefit the way you feel and the levels of energy your body has to work with.