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Vitamin B – Performance, Health, Diabetes & Supplement Guide

January 06, 2018
Vitamin B – Performance, Health, Diabetes & Supplement Guide

Most of our vitamin B is used to help turn the food we eat INTO energy. B vitamins DO NOT give you energy. This is important to remember. It is the food we eat that provides us with energy.

This is important to remember. It is the food we eat that provides us with energy. The aging process can be traumatic for all of us. One day you’re able to see the 50 inch TV from the couch, the next day you find yourself at the local electronics store with a receipt in hand for that new 70 inch plasma. The good news is a balance and correct diet can lessen the impact and burden such as a decline in memory and cognition.

It is true that B vitamins are ‘water’ soluble. This means the body does store them in our fat cells but is able to excrete in excess via our urine. You can develop toxicity when it comes to supplementing high dosages of niacin, folate, and B6.

Folate at high dosages may trigger or increase the risk of certain cancers. Niacin can help improve cholesterol levels in your blood as it is a dilator of your veins and arteries which allows for faster and larger transport of lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are the cargo containers for cholesterol. Cholesterol is then able to be utilized by our body at a more efficient rate. Too much niacin can cause skin flushing.

If you’re a bodybuilder or weekend warrior you may have experienced this if you take a pre-workout supplement. These pre-workouts are typically loaded with niacin. The other issue is liver toxicity if someone consumes a diet high in niacin and supplements in high dosages on a daily basis. Two forms of niacin are bottled and sold as supplements. Nicotinic acid in high doses may help to lower cholesterol (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) but can cause flushing (definitely a bad thing).

The 8 different types of B vitamins

  • B1
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (Niacin)
  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
  • B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • B7 (Biotin)
  • B9 Folate (Folic Acid) – help to reduce birth defects of the spinal cord and is always the most critical nutrient in a pre-natal vitamin.
  • B12

What Supplement to take and why?

picture of vitamin B pill

Remember the only reason to take a supplement is if you are DEFICIENT in that vitamin. 9 out of 10 times the best way to solve that deficiency is through natural foods. Specifically those high in that specific nutrient and not running to the nearest vitamin store.

B complex – The best “complex” to take really depends on the deficiency you are trying to cover the most. GNC has a solid product known as GNC – B Complex, Mega Food Balanced B Complex, Shaklee and Swanson have well rounded B complexes as well.
B1 – Only product that I’ve seen tested and reviewed is that of The Vitamin Shoppe. Their product is called “Vitamin Shoppe B-1 Thiamin”.
B2 (riboflavin) – Two products I can recommend that have been tested are those from Nature’s Way (Vitamin B2) and from a place called Piping Rock, their product is Vitamin B-2 100.
B3 (Niacin) – Most if not all the recommended and tested Niacin supplements contain higher amounts than what the upper limit calls for, so caution should be used.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – Deficiency of B5 is extremely rare so supplementation is almost never needed or warranted. One product that was reviewed and tested well was KAL Pantothenic Acid which provides in each tablet a huge dose of B5 at 1000 mg.
B6 (Pyridoxine) – Most if not ALL B6 supplements will contain levels of pyridoxine that is above the daily requirement. Most will not need to supplement for B6. If so, Country Life Vitamin B6, Terry Natural, and Source Naturals offer tested products (higher than daily recommended amounts).
B7 (Biotin) – Most supplement with Biotin for its effect on nail thickness and its protection against split nails. Nature’s Life Biotin and Vitacost Biotin are 2 products that have been tested and approved.
B9 (Folate) – Women who are capable of becoming pregnant (should be eating animals ) but may also supplement to ensure they receive 400 mcg daily of folic acid. Spring Valley Folic Acid, and Whole Foods Folic Acid and Douglas Labs Methyl Folate are products that deliver what is issued on the ingredient label.
B12 – Most single nutrient B12 supplements provide more than the recommended amounts of B12 at 2.4 micrograms/day. Some great picks include Nature Bounty B12 2500 quick dissolve tablets. When it comes to what type of B12, you want to look for Methylcobalamin instead of cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin has been shown to be better absorbed and held within your tissues for ease of access.

Who should supplement and Why?

Those who may be taking medication to reduce stomach acid may be low in B12
Pregnant woman – folate to help protect against birth defects
Gene mutation affecting MTHFR enzyme should take a form of folate known as Methylfolate.
The end game is that a proper diet that consists mostly of protein and fat (animal food sources) will provide the body with the correct amounts of bioavailable nutrients. The current evidence does not support the use of high doses of antioxidants on the prevention and treatment of diabetes and its complications.

Can vitamins raise blood sugar?

graph of sugar cubes and arrow up


In a way yes. Some under the tongue dissolvable vitamins will contain sugar or sugar alcohols. Why? How else are you going to let those tablets sit under your mouth and dissolve? The issue is that many sugar alcohols are still broken down and are absorbed by the body so they tend to raise our blood sugar levels, just not as much as a normal carbohydrate.

B Vitamins, Diabetes and Supplementation

When it comes to B vitamins such as thiamin (B2), Pyridoxine (B6), and Biotin (B7) those who are suffering from diabetes have been associated with lower levels. The exact mechanism or reason why remains unclear. Supplementation has been shown to help improve those levels. What is better than supplementation? A well formulated eating pattern which consists of foods high in vitamin B. Only after that would we want to add a well formulated B vitamin supplement.

Most type 2 diabetics will have LOW levels of both B12 and folic acid due to the use of Metformin which is the most prescribed medication for diabetics.

Newly diagnosed diabetics may have lower levels of B6. B vitamins are highly involved in glucose or carbohydrate metabolism. Chronically low levels of B vitamins impact the progression and overall control of diabetes.

Niacin is another important B vitamin that can be overlooked when it comes to energy and diabetes control. Nicotinic acid plays a role in ATP or “energy production” at the cellular level. Niacin helps to improve this relationship and improve our body’s ability to utilize the carbohydrate we eat for energy. Supplementing or consuming a diet that is naturally high in niacin may help to increase your HDL cholesterol, decrease your triglycerides, and even lower some types of LDL.

There is a derivative of vitamin B1 called benfotiamine that according to preliminary research may help to improve neuropathic pain that many diabetics deal with. The recommended dose is 400 mg daily taken at 50 mg every 2 hours or 2 50 mg tables taken 4 times daily.

The only tested form of benfotiamine that I know about is from Doctor’s Best supplement line. This product provides 300 mg of benfotiamine per capsule.

What about Vitamin B12?

Maintaining normal levels or even consuming additional amounts of B12 and folic acid may help to lessen the oxidative stress that is associated with diabetes. Diabetes is a form of heart disease that directly affects the peripheral veins and arteries. One of the most well-known complications associated with diabetes is neuropathy and proper levels of B12 may help to counter the oxidative stress the body undergoes from high levels of sugar and insulin.

What sources of food contain the most bioavailable B vitamins?

The most bioavailable form of B12 is from animal sources such as poultry and beef (especially the liver), veal, all types of sea creatures such as shell fish and fish, pork, and all forms and types of game meat.

Here is a list of heart friendly, diabetes curing, healthy living foods that are highest in each specific B vitamin.

Pork contains 0.75 mg of B1 per 3 oz
3 oz Beef/Steak 0.72 mg of B2
1 breast of turkey contains 101 mg of Niacin and 7.1 mg of B6
1 whole egg contains 10 mcg of B7
1 cup spinach contains 263 mcg of Folate
Beef Liver, Clams, Salmon (Sockeye) contain 20-84 mcg of B12

By: Sean

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