We’ve all heard about RDA or recommended daily allowance for vitamins and minerals that are set by the Food and Drug Nutrition Board and give us the estimated minimal amount that people need to consume in order to avoid deficiencies. However, the optimal level of consumption of any micronutrient should actually fall well above the RDA for maintaining adequate nutrition and optimal health. B vitamins in particular can be consumed several times more than the RDA. When it comes to the optimal level, it’s an amount that can be consumed in order to allow for the nutrient to provide proper functioning while now allowing symptoms of toxicity to develop or any adverse symptoms. B-vitamins are essential for the metabolism of glucose, act as co-enzymes in mitochondrial aerobic respiration, and are instrumental in cellular energy production and the production of ATP (basically the process of turning our food into energy).
How B vitamins get to the brain?
The B vitamins for brain function are actively transported across the blood barrier by dedicated transport mechanisms. Cellular uptake mechanisms dictate the distribution of where all the B vitamins are allocate once in the brain. Following that B vitamin levels are controlled by several homeostatic mechanisms which guarantee that brain concentrations remain comparatively high. Much of the evidence related to the impact of B vitamins on the brain has not been consistent. Some studies suggest that B vitamins do have significant benefits to brain function.
The pentose phosphate pathway is a necessary step in the synthesis of fatty acids, steroids, nucleic acids and the aromatic amino acid precursors to a range of neurotransmitters and other bioactive compounds essential for brain function. In essence B vitamins will help keep our thinking sharp and keep us from going cray cray. Thiamine is a coenzyme in that pathway and acts as a cofactor during metabolic processes and contributes to the structure and function of cellular membranes.
Why you care? Although B vitamins are totally essential, prevalence of B vitamin deficiencies has increased in developed societies. Figures calculated for RDA and other nutritional requirements have barely changed over the past four decades despite glaring facts that point to the decreasing ability to absorb nutrients from our food and soil. Studies have found that populations in developed countries such as the U.S. do not consume the RDA of B vitamins. As obesity continues to climb there is a clear relationship between obesity and malnutrition because the SAD (Standard American Diet) consists of too much high fat, sugary, processed or fast foods which have little to no nutrition in the form of vitamins and mineral. Large portions of developed populations have been shown by studies to have biochemical levels of B vitamins that could cause deficiency related diseases, or reaching levels considered “marginal deficiency” which isn’t completed deprived but still not optimal either. All of these factors are a part of why deficiencies in developed societies occur.
Studies have shown that supplements higher in B vitamins and lower in other micronutrients have stronger effects than supplements with lower levels of B vitamins and higher concentrations of other micronutrients. So it may be wise if supplementing to purchase a B-complex or B vitamins as separate from your daily multivitamin. Some foods rich in essential B vitamins like B1, B2, B3, and B5 include: spirulina, goji berries, beans, broccoli, turnip greens, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, oranges, dandelion greens. –Xo Raw Girl
Kennedy, D.O. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy – A Review. Nutrients. 27(8), 2. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068.