Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Wisdom Wednesday: The B Vitamins
I’m not covering all the B vitamins today, just the first three – vitamin B1, B2, and B3.
Thiamine (B1) was first vitamin discovered in 1912 as the unseen substance in rice and wheat that cured beriberi. It was just called “vitamin B”. Soon scientists realized there were many more water soluble substances and the list of B vitamins began to grow. Riboflavin (B2) was discovered in milk in 1926. Although it did not cure any known disease, it was found to be essential for growth. Vitamin B3, niacin was isolated as the cause of pellagra in 1935.
Thiamine (B1) is stimulatory in nature. When the body is lethargic, the heart rate and blood pressure are low, thiamine can be very effective. However, it is commonly a trigger for tachycardia and atrial fibrillation. I believe that “fortified foods” like breakfast cereals, where the natural thiamine is first stripped out, then replaced with synthetic vitamins is a significant factor in the onset of atrial fibrillation. Thiamine is also used to treat neuropathy and is especially effective in treating Bell’s palsy.
Riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3) both have a calming effect. Early in the history of vitamins, they were lumped together as “vitamin G”. There are still a few supplement companies that use that designation. They counterbalance the stimulatory effects of thiamine in the B complex.
The ratio of these B vitamins is critical. In most foods, that ratio is 3:1 with riboflavin and niacin being three times as abundant as thiamin. Unfortunately, most supplement companies have ignored this ratio. A “B50” or “B100” supplement will contain 50 mg or 100 mg of each of the B vitamins without any regard as to how they are normal combined in nature.
The first thing I do to treat a new patient with atrial fibrillation, is stop their B complex supplement. Then I add a little bit of additional “vitamin G” (riboflavin and niacin) from a food source supplement. The reduction of atrial fibrillation is almost immediate and most cases resolve within a few weeks.
Riboflavin is also very important for phase 1 liver detoxification. That is the phase that all chemicals entering the liver most go through to be eliminated from the body. Silymarin and lecithin are most commonly used to support liver function, especially if the liver enzymes are elevated. When those two supplements do not test, riboflavin is often the key.
Niacin (B3) has had significant research because it is very effective at lowering total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and most importantly the L(p)a fraction of the LDL-cholesterol. It recently failed in a research study with statin drugs, to reduce the risk of vascular events in high risk patients. Please review my blog “Effects of Extended-Release Niacin with Laropiprant in High Risk Patients” posted on August 4, 2014. Although it is a very effective tool in lowering serum lipids, the key is to correct cholesterol metabolism by finding the cause of the high cholesterol, rather than just forcing it down.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Do not take a “B50” or “B100” supplement. I recommend a B complex derived from food sources with no added supplementation. If you have a health issue that seems related to the B vitamins, seek a qualified nutritionist for good advice.