ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Vitamin B May Be The Key To Helping With Depression And Memory Loss!

Updated on December 6, 2010

What the B Vitamins Do! They Provide Health Benefits In All Areas!

The eight B vitamins have many jobs, not the least of which are converting food to energy, thereby forming healthy red blood cells. They reduce the risk of heart disease, help with anemia, minimize depression, help with memory loss, reduce the risk of birth defects and even aid in prevention of symptoms of PMS. The B vitamins are present in foods, but sometimes the typical American diet doesn't consist of enough of these foods to allow sufficient intake of Vitamin B. Each of the B's is important on its own, but all of them taken in the right quantities could be the answer to many health problems that we face. By going through all of the B vitamins, explaining the foods in which they are present and what health benefits each provides may give us a base line from which to work.

The B vitamins are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. They each serve a purpose and they are each necessary for the production of normal red blood cells. But they do so much more. According to the Franklin Institute, red blood cells perform the most important blood duty. They travel throughout the body delivering oxygen to cells and removing waste. Without normal quantities of healthy red blood cells, the human body dies. Further, red blood cells wear out and themselves die after about 120 days. They are constantly being replaced by the bones in your body. It then stands to reason that if the B vitamins are necessary for the formation of healthy red blood cells, they are one of the most important vitamins upon which to concentrate.

Each of the B Vitamins can be taken separately in a different tablet or they can be taken together as a compound. It is much cheaper to take a B complex. Just be sure that all of the B's are contained in the one pill. If you can find a multiple vitamin tablet that also has the B's, that sounds perfect, and cheaper. My suggestion (based purely on experience and no scientific evidence) is to find a multiple vitamin with the B's, minus iron. Iron is tough on alot of people, so I have found a multiple vitamin much easier to take if iron is not on the list of ingredients. Again, that is a personal preference only.

Each Of The B's, How They Help And What Foods Provide Them!

If you suffer from any of these listed symptoms, ask your doctor to evaluate the levels of B vitamins in your blood work. If you do not have a doctor, evaluate the way you eat, in addition to the foods you consume. You may be able to roughly calculate how much Vitamin B is in your system by reviewing your dietary habits, but the only way you can really determine any shortages or deficiencies is through blood work. In 2010, there are roughly 50 million Americans without health insurance, that cannot afford a doctor's visit, much less a complete blood study. This article is meant to help. While it is far from comprehensive and short on the scientific descriptions, it is designed to be easy to understand and the information offered is meant to reach those that may be experiencing symptoms that Vitamin B may eliminate. If taking a simple vitamin supplement can aid with any of the below symptoms, it may be worth a try. Use your better judgement when evaluating the need for a supplement, do some research and then take some action based upon your knowledge.

Symptoms that the B vitamins can help to control:

  • Mood changes
  • irritability
  • nervousness and anxiety
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • sugar cravings
  • headaches
  • memory loss
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • trembling
  • loss of appetite
  • anemia

B vitamins help with all of the above. Shortages of Vitamin B can also cause all of the above. The B's can be found in the foods we eat, and as each B is described in further detail, the foods in which they are found will be listed.

VITAMIN B1: Thiamin, or Vitamin B1 was the first B vitamin discovered. According to LifeScript, thiamine improves heart function, regulates moods and controls metabolism, also helping with nerve function. People who have congestive heart failure benefit by increasing thiamin. Thiamin has been shown to help with diabetic neuropathy, minimizing the tingling and numbness that comes with the disease. A study of college women, according to LifeScript, found that increased levels of thiamin increased energy, improved mood and alertness levels. Another study showed similar results, but also showed that thiamin can reduce memory loss, improve the quality of sleep and help to control blood pressure. Some people think that Alzheimer's can be helped by thiamin, but that has not yet been proven.

What foods contain Vitamin B1 or thiamin? Try enriched grains (fortified cereals), lean pork, nuts and whole grains. Dried beans and seeds are also a good source of thiamin. Does your diet contain any of the above? If not, you should consider a supplement. Thiamin doesn't get stored in the body. Any excess will be excreted through the urine so overdosing on thiamin is usually not a concern.

VITAMIN B2: Riboflavin and B2 are one and the same. If you have burning feet, you may have a shortage of B2 in your system. Vitamin B2 deficiencies can cause hair loss, insomnia, dizziness, growth retardation, light sensitivity, digestive problems and dermatitis. If the skin around your mouth cracks, lack of B2 may be the cause. Vitamin B2 is also necessary to absorb B6!

Do you like eating liver? Of course liver is a great source of B2 and most of us hate it! What other foods contain riboflavin? Try lean meats, any organ meats such as liver, fish, leafy green vegetables, eggs, milk, nuts, yogurt and whole grains.

VITAMIN B3: Niacin is also called Vitamin B3. Its presence in the body is a necessity, but supplements should be taken with caution. Too much can cause serious liver damage, among other things. Deficiencies of niacin can cause depression, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, limb pains, low blood sugar, skin eruptions, diarrhea and poor memory. Niacin can be used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. It can correct high cholesterol and can prevent or reverse heart disease. It can also be used to treat poor memory and insulin dependent diabetes. Again, while Vitamin B is necessary for both a healthy body and mind, the use of supplements should be monitored by a medical professional.

What foods contain niacin? First, all enriched cereals and grains have niacin added. Almost all high protein foods contain niacin. Meats, fish, eggs, peanuts, asparagus, milk, mushrooms and greens all contain niacin.

VITAMIN B5: Pantothenic acid, the anti-stress vitamin, is also known as Vitamin B5. As with Vitamin B3, supplements must be taken with caution. Most literature recommends no more than 10- 100 mg per day. Doctor supervision is recommended. A shortage of pantothenic acid is characterized by any of the following symptoms: headaches, nausea, depression, sleep disturbances, personality changes, cardiac instability and cramps. Vitamin B5 assists metabolism, aiding in the secretion of hormones. Some people even suggest that B5 helps reduce wrinkles and reduces graying of the hair.

Had any brewer's yeast lately? Brewer's yeast is a terrific source of B5! Not interested? Try beef, eggs, liver (It can be good with bacon and onions! Really!), mushrooms, nuts, pork, saltwater fish, whole rye and whole wheat flour. Legumes, including almost all beans, split peas, lentils and black-eyed peas are a good source of Vitamin B5. Fresh legumes, soaked and cooked, are significantly better than canned. Fresh vegetables are also a good source of pantothenic acid.

VITAMIN B6: Pyridoxine or Vitamin B6 helps women to balance hormonal changes. This vitamin is linked to cancer immunity and helps children with learning difficulties. Any dose over 2000 mg per day can cause neurological problems, so dosing should be carefully monitored. B6 deficiencies are marked by irritability, nervousness, insomnia, general weakness, acne, exacerbation of asthma symptoms and allergies.

Again, the brewer's yeast! But more importantly, some of the same foods that provide some of the other B vitamins also contain B6. Eggs, chicken, carrots, fish, liver, peas, wheat germ and walnuts all provide Vitamin B6.

VITAMIN B7: Also called Vitamin H and biotin, B7 promotes health of the sweat glands, bone marrow, male gonads, nerve tissue and skin and hair. Biotin can improve hair and nail health. Deficiencies of B7 are noted by hair loss, fatigue, depression, nausea, anemia and muscle pains.

What foods supply Vitamin B7? Again, some similarities and a few differences: liver, brewer's yeast, egg yolks, oatmeal, soy beans, legumes, mushrooms, bananas and peanuts.

VITAMIN B9: Folic acid, folate, folacin are all other names for Vitamin B9. Folic acid has most recently been publicized as being a necessary vitamin for the healthy development of the nervous system of a fetus. Without enough B9, a fetus may develop spina bifida as well as a number of other birth defects. Vitamin B9 is not only necessary for fetuses, it is essential for energy production and a strong immune system in all of us. It helps protect us from heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers. This vitamin may be effective in treating depression and anxiety.

What foods contain folic acid? Fresh green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, whole grains and liver all contain Vitamin B9.

VITAMIN B12: Cobalt is contained in Vitamin B12, therefore B12 is also known as cobalamin. B12 plays a key role in brain function. It is the only one of the B vitamins that is actually stored in the tissues of the body. It is most often found in the liver, but is stored in other body tissues, too. In many instances, the first clue that there is a Vitamin B12 deficiency happens when someone develops symptoms of Alzheimer's or dementia. The symptoms are virtually the same and sometimes when people are initially diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it can be quite simply, B12 deficiency. With adequate doses given, the symptoms reverse and disappear.

While more research is necessary, in addition to the vital functions of B12, it is thought that B12 reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, helps with the cognitive decline caused by dementia, and is an energy booster.

Low levels of B12 definitely cause anemia, fatigue, depression, weakness, loss of balance, weight loss, confusion, poor memory and numbness or tingling of the extremities.

What foods contain Vitamin B12? Meat, poultry, eggs, shellfish, milk and other dairy products all contain B12. Vegetarians are at a higher risk of suffering from a shortage of this vitamin and for them, a supplement is highly advisable. There are some cereals on the market that are fortified with Vitamin B12.

The B's Can Help You! Take Stock Of What You Eat!

The American diet is substandard in many ways. Convenience comes before nutrition very often. Ease in meal preparation is a priority in most busy families, and the fact is, processed foods are consumed every day. Instant potatoes? Hamburger Helper? Pasta Roni? Frozen dinners? Pizza delivery? Chinese take-out? If these choices sound like your weekly menu, you and your children are definitely at a higher risk for vitamin deficiencies.

This article is not meant to be an indictment of you or the eating habits of your family. Everyone makes their own decisions and choices and each individual family has their reasons for the food choices they make. I don't intend to change your views on food and I think that people who assume they have the right to judge the choices of others are short-sighted and go way beyond what is appropriate. I just recently learned about the importance of the B vitamins when researching what might be causing memory loss, inability to focus and extreme depression in a family member.

We decided to try an experiment. I purchased a 30 day supply of a B complex vitamin tablet for my family member and she took it for a month. After the first week, her coworkers made comments to her. They did not know about the experiment, but let her know that they were seeing a significant change in her ability to focus and remember things. It even helped with the depression. She saw the change in herself! It worked! When she ran out, her life went back to normal and she stopped taking the vitamins. Soon, her memory was failing; she went back to being unable to focus. She will be starting the vitamins again. We are convinced that they have helped her and I am convinced that they may help you, too! Placebo effect? That is a possibility, but with all of the research that I have done, I doubt it. Try your own experiment! Let me know if it works!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Mel 5 years ago

    Very helpful . I am low in b5 , revealed by vega test . I have suffered from depression most of my adult life , and needed medication . I will let you know how the supplements change things for me .

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    Thanks, Deni! Always love hearing from you! Have been reading your recipes! Haven't read them for the vitamins (the taste is the thing!), but they are all real food, which require some actual cooking (actually the potatoes are all high in Vitamin C and the machaca and homemade refried beans have alot of Vitamin B). More importantly, they are awesome! Hope they are being read by everyone!

  • Deni Edwards profile image

    Deni Edwards 7 years ago from california

    This is an excellent, well-written hub! Thanks!

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    Always thought I was medically well-versed. I am embarrassed to say that I was so ignorant about the benefits of Vitamin B. The older I get, the smarter everyone else is! B complex seems to be such a simple way to improve so many health issues, half of which I did not even include in the hub! Thank you!

  • profile image

    logic,commonsense 7 years ago

    Thanks for the extremely useful hub! I have been an advocate of the B complex for years. Works for me!