3 Top Reasons Why You Need ALL The B Vitamins For Brain Health
- Written by Melanie Smith
- August 2, 2021
Many product formulas for brain health focus specifically on only one, two or even three of the B vitamins rather than including the whole group. But this only gives you part of what your brain needs to work effectively.
The inter-relationships between nutrients, the brain and cognition are complex. When we look at the B vitamins, it’s important to utilise ALL of the B Vitamin group. These nutrients individually and codependently support the energy pathways in the body and are essentially required for a myriad of processes, particularly in their support for the brain and the entire nervous system.
What Are the B Vitamins?
Here are the 8 essential B’s and their common names, which can vary slightly depending on what form they are in:
- B1 – thiamine
- B2 – riboflavin
- B3 – niacin
- B5 – pantothenic acid
- B6 – pyridoxine
- B7 – biotin
- B9 – folate/folic acid
- B12 – cobalamin
If you’re wondering what happened to the missing B’s – B4, B8, B10 and B11, science discovered they no longer fit the official definition of a vitamin, although they are still nutrients present in foods and are required for health.
What Are Their Roles?
The B’s have a direct influence on cognitive function through:
- their involvement in the energy production of brain cells
- synthesis of neurotransmitters
- maintenance of membranes and other brain and nerve structures
- antioxidant and enzymatic activities
- cofactors for many other processes [1,2,3]
By definition of ‘vitamins’, this means they are essential and required for normal human growth and must be obtained by diet or supplements because they cannot be manufactured by the human body. The B group are water-soluble, so they need to be consumed regularly to be replenished as they are not stored in the body (except B12).
Let’s look at the top 3 reasons why you need to consider the full B group for brain health.
1. They ALL Have Brain Boosting Benefits
B vitamins have their own strengths and crossover benefits for brain health:
| Brain benefits for B vitamins: | B1 | B2 | B3 | B5 | B6 | B7 | B9 | B12
| Helps reduce tiredness and fatigue | | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü
| Improves cognitive function | | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü
| Contributes to mental performance | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | | ü | ü
| Co-factor for Neurotransmitters | ü | | | ü | ü | ü | | ü
| Contributes to energy production | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü
| Antioxidant activity | ü | ü | ü | ü | ü | | ü | ü
2. B’s NEED Each Other
All of the B vitamins have an interdependent relationship with one or more of the other B’s, and with other nutrients. This means, even though they have their functions, they require each other to function effectively.
For example, vitamins B9 and B12 are inexplicably linked and through a cascade of events, they are required for maintaining the structure of the brain . Vitamin B3 is also involved in the conversion of B2 and B6 into their active forms .
3. Taking Some B’s Without Others Can Leave You DEFICIENT
In addition to B’s requiring each other for various processes, where there are high doses of only some of the B’s, you run the risk of becoming deficient in the other B’s. This is because they compete for the same binding sites in the body where they can be absorbed. This means, higher doses of individual nutrients as provided by supplements take up more of the binding ‘space’, leaving smaller doses of other B’s coming in through the food source the reduced ability to bind .
How Can I Get All My Daily B’s?
Our supplement Nourish Mind contains the full complex of B vitamins and other micronutrients that have been naturally sourced and show high absorption and retention rates, ready to give your brain a daily dose of the B group .
B vitamins 1-9 are found widely in plant and animal foods, with B12 coming almost exclusively from animal sources. If you have good gut health (see the previous blog on the Gut-Brain Connection [link here pls]), you will also be able to make very small amounts of some of the B’s yourself. As with everything relative to health, a diet high in whole foods will yield significantly more nutrients than processed foods.
The Take-Home Message
The brain and whole central nervous system depend on B vitamins and other micronutrients more intimately than any other organ system of the body. These are especially important for cognitive performance as well as mood and they require an adequate and constant nutrient supply .
Disclaimer: Intended for general information only. In cases of severe deficiency, singular deficiencies can be addressed therapeutically and dosed away from the rest of the B vitamins, under the guidance assistance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
- E Huskisson et al. The Influence of Micronutrients on Cognitive Function and Performance. International Medical Research; 2007. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/147323000703500101
- David O. Kennedy. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients; 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/
- Carlos Alberto Calderón-Ospina, Mauricio Orlando Nava-Mesa.CNS Neuroscience and therapeutics;2019. B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cns.13207
- Intestinal absorption of water-soluble vitamins in health and disease. Biochem; 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049159/
- Meinrad Lindschinger et al. A Randomized Pilot Trial to Evaluate the Bioavailability of Natural versus Synthetic Vitamin B Complexes in Healthy Humans and Their Effects on Homocysteine, Oxidative Stress, and Antioxidant Levels. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6930747/