Vitamin B complex
Why I take it:
Why it works:
The B vitamins have to do with the working of all nerve cells. And the brain is almost nothing but nerve cells. As an example, nicotine is a close relative to the B vitamins, to the extent that the nerves use it instead of whatever Bs they would normally use. This is why trying to quit smoking results in shakiness, frustration, anger, etc. You are depriving your nerves of their usual source of nutrition.
My sister-in-law, who battled constant medical problems, became very depressed. Not that she didn’t have reasons! But based on my own experience, I encouraged her to try vitamin B supplementation. The next time I visited her, her conversation continued to be depressed and lethargic, and I asked whether she had tried to vitamin B. Well, no, of course not. My experience is that people who are clinically depressed are too depressed to do anything about it. And they can always find reasons for being depressed, therefore don’t think that there is anything to be done. I insisted that it couldn’t hurt and urged her to try it. She promised she’d have her husband pick some up for her.
A month later, I talked with her on the phone. Again her conversation was depressed and hopeless, and I again asked about the supplements. No, of course her husband had not seen any urgency about B vitamins, and had never gotten around to it. I hung up the phone, went out and bought a good supplement, brought it to her, and stood by until she had taken five pills. I urged that she take five again the next day, and promised that either she would feel better in a week, or I would concede that it had nothing to do with a lack of B.
She called me up in two days and said, “I will never doubt you again!”
I gained my experience after battling mononucleosis in 1970 (the worst case on record in New York state at that time), when I found myself extremely depressed. I sat around staring at the wall, unable to be interested even in watching television. During a follow-up with my doctor, I told him how I was feeling, and he said, “I think you’re depressed. And I think you will be as long as you stay in that marriage.”
The marriage did end within a year after that, mostly because I became undepressed enough to realize I was in a dead end situation, and had found enough energy to change things.
I was motivated by the doctor’s comment to research depression, and I had a book on nutrition. In that book, I learned that various conditions such as pregnancy and mono require large amounts of vitamin B6, and that lack would cause depression; and I began taking it. Within a week I was back to normal, my interest in life restored.
Several times thereafter, I would realize that I was depressed and resume large doses of vitamin B6, nearly always with miraculous results. The one exception turned out to be a lack of vitamin B12, which is more difficult to remedy.
All of the b-vitamins are water soluble except B12; they are easily assimilated and also pass through quickly, requiring daily replenishment, but B12 is oil soluble. It stores in the body for years and is used slowly. Once it’s gone, restoring it takes time. I hadn’t heard of sublingual B at the time, and in fact it may not have yet been available. When my research suggested it may be what I needed, I took supplementation of that while eating copious amounts of chicken livers. This worked, though slowly. Lack of B12, incidentally, is Pernicious Anemia, which is fatal when extreme.
After that, I took B-50 complex instead of B6, deciding that it would be best to supplement the whole range of related vitamins instead of doing it piecemeal - that if I was lacking one or two, I was likely lacking the others. But most B-complex supplements contain a minuscule amount of B6, whereas the B-50 contains a whopping amount of everything. In the last five years, I have realized that even the B-50 isn’t doing it, and have moved to B-100, with good results. However, even that has not been enough B12 in recent years resulting in sleep problems, and I have increased that significantly. And yes, it has been effective for me.
Incidentally, when I was hospitalized with the mononucleosis, I lost the ability to taste. Everything was like sand in my mouth, and I had no interest in eating, to the extent that over three weeks I lost more than 30 pounds. (Which I unfortunately put right back on when I got my sense of taste back.) Taste, of course, is a function of nerve cells. It irritates me that no doctor will lower himself to dealing with nutrition; to say, “You aren’t eating because you can’t taste, you can’t taste because the mono has depleted your B vitamins; here’s a supplement.”
Also, postpartum depression is lack of vitamin B6. Every pregnant woman should supplement with B6, (in my experienced and researched opinion). This also holds true for the related condition of taking birth control pills.
What WebMD says about it: (edited for simplicity)
Pernicious anemia is a serious type of anemia that is due to vitamin B12 deficiency and is found mostly in older people. For this purpose, people use either a supplement that is taken by mouth, a sublingual supplement, or a gel that is applied inside the nose.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is also used for memory loss; Alzheimer’s disease; boosting mood, energy, concentration and the immune system; and slowing aging. It is also used for heart disease, lowering high homocysteine levels (which may contribute to heart disease), male infertility, diabetes, sleep disorders, depression, mental disorders, weak bones (osteoporosis), swollen tendons, AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies, a skin disease called vitiligo, preventing cervical and other cancers, and skin infections.
Some people use vitamin B12 for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), multiple sclerosis, preventing age-related macular degeneration of the eyes (AMD), Lyme disease and gum disease. It is also used for ringing in the ears, bleeding, liver and kidney disease, and for protection against the poisons and allergens in tobacco smoke.
How does it work?
Vitamin B12 is required for the proper function and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells, and many other parts of the body.
Pyridoxine is used for heart disease; high cholesterol; reducing blood levels of homocysteine, a chemical that might be linked to heart disease; and helping clogged arteries stay open after a balloon procedure to unblock them (angioplasty).
Women use pyridoxine for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other menstruation problems, "morning sickness" (nausea and vomiting) in early pregnancy, stopping milk flow after childbirth, depression related to pregnancy or using birth control pills, and symptoms of menopause.
Pyridoxine is also used for Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, autism, diabetes and related nerve pain, sickle cell anemia, migraine headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, night leg cramps, muscle cramps, arthritis, allergies, acne and various other skin conditions, and infertility. It is also used for dizziness, motion sickness, preventing macular degeneration (AMD), seizures, convulsions due to fever, and movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia, hyperkinesis, chorea), as well as for increasing appetite and helping people remember dreams.
Pyridoxine is also used to overcome certain harmful side effects related to radiation treatment and treatment with medications such as mitomycin, procarbazine, cycloserine,fluorouracil, hydrazine, isoniazid, penicillamine, and vincristine.
How does it work?
Pyridoxine is required for the proper function of sugars, fats, and proteins in the body. It is also required for the proper growth and development of the brain, nerves, skin, and many other parts of the body.
Niacin is used for high cholesterol. It is also used along with other treatments for circulation problems, migraine headache, dizziness, and to reduce the diarrhea associated with cholera. Niacin is also used for preventing positive urine drug screens in people who take illegal drugs.
Niacinamide is used for treating diabetes and two skin conditions called bullous pemphigoid and granuloma annulare.
Niacin or niacinamide is used for preventing conditions such as pellagra. Each of these forms of vitamin B3 is used for schizophrenia, hallucinations due to drugs, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related loss of thinking skills, chronic brain syndrome, depression, motion sickness, alcohol dependence, and fluid collection (edema).
Some people use niacin or niacinamide for acne, leprosy, ADHD, memory loss, arthritis, preventing premenstrual headache, improving digestion, protecting against toxins and pollutants, reducing the effects of aging, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation, promoting relaxation, improving orgasm, and preventing cataracts.
Niacinamide is applied to the skin for treating a skin condition called inflammatory acne vulgaris.
How does it work?
The body converts niacinamide and niacin back and forth as needed. Niacin and niacinamide are easily dissolved in water and are well-absorbed when taken by mouth.
Niacin and niacinamide are required for the proper function of fats and sugars in the body and to maintain healthy cells. At high doses, niacin and niacinamide can have different effects. Niacin might help people with heart disease because of its beneficial effects on clotting. It may also improve levels of a certain type of fat called triglycerides in the blood. Niacinamide has no beneficial effects on fats and should not be used for treating high cholesterol or high fat levels in the blood.
Niacin deficiency causes pellagra, resulting in skin irritation, diarrhea, and dementia. Pellagra was common in the early twentieth century, but is less common now, since foods are now fortified with niacin. Pellagra has been virtually eliminated in western culture.
People with poor diet, alcoholism, and some types of slow-growing tumors called carcinoid tumors might be at risk for niacin deficiency.
Riboflavin is used for preventing cervical cancer, and migraine headaches. It is also used for treating acne, muscle cramps, burning feet syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and blood disorders such as congenital methemoglobinemia and red blood cell aplasia. Some people use riboflavin for eye conditions including eye fatigue, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Other uses include increasing energy levels; boosting immune system function; maintaining healthy hair, skin, mucous membranes, and nails; slowing aging; boosting athletic performance; promoting healthy reproductive function; canker sores; memory loss, including Alzheimer's disease; ulcers; burns; alcoholism; liver disease; sickle cell anemia; and treating lactic acidosis brought on by treatment with a class of AIDS medications called NRTI drugs.
How does it work?
Riboflavin is required for the proper development and function of the skin, lining of the digestive tract, blood cells, and many other parts of the body.
Pantothenic acid is used for treating acne, alcoholism, allergies, baldness, asthma, ADHD, autism, burning feet syndrome, yeast infections, heart failure, carpal tunnel syndrome, respiratory disorders, celiac disease, colitis, conjunctivitis, convulsions, and cystitis. It is also taken by mouth for dandruff, depression, diabetic nerve pain, enhancing immune function, improving athletic performance, tongue infections, gray hair, headache, hyperactivity, low blood sugar, trouble sleeping, irritability, low blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, muscular cramps in the legs associated with pregnancy or alcoholism, neuralgia, and obesity.
Pantothenic acid is also used orally for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, nerve pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), enlarged prostate, protection against mental and physical stress and anxiety, reducing adverse effects of thyroid therapy in congenital hypothyroidism, reducing signs of aging, reducing susceptibility to colds and other infections, retarded growth, shingles, skin disorders, stimulating adrenal glands, chronic fatigue syndrome, salicylate toxicity, streptomycin neurotoxicity, dizziness, and wound healing.
People apply dexpanthenol, which is made from pantothenic acid, to the skin for itching, promoting healing of mild eczemas and other skin conditions, insect stings, bites, poison ivy, diaper rash, and acne. It is also applied topically for preventing and treating skin reactions to radiation therapy.
How does it work?
Pantothenic acid is important for our bodies to properly use carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids and for healthy skin.
Lack of thiamine causes beriberi. It is used for digestive problems including poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea, boosting the immune system, diabetic pain, heart disease, alcoholism, aging, a type of brain damage called cerebellar syndrome, canker sores, vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, motion sickness, and improving athletic performance. Other uses include preventing cervical cancer and progression o fkidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Some people use thiamine for maintaining a positive mental attitude; enhancing learning abilities; increasing energy; fighting stress; and preventing memory loss, including Alzheimer's disease.
Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for a memory disorder called Wernicke's encephalopathy syndrome, alcohol withdrawal, and coma.