Learn the ABC’s of the Vitamin B’s!


Dr. Stephanie Peltz, ND

Through the lens of my family practice I have witnessed a growing number of frantic parents, frazzled students, and frustrated teachers with the sudden end to the school year.  Lets bridge this chaotic time into a restful and joyous summer!

As naturopathic physicians we have several tools to assess and address stress.  At the top of our list are the B vitamins.  Patients often ask me about the elusive ‘vitamin B’.  Did you know that there is not just one, but 8 core B vitamins?  They include Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folic Acid, Biotin, and Cobalamin (B12).  These vitamins share some functions (like the metabolism of food to produce energy), but are also unique in their own way.

The B vitamins are all water-soluble.  This means they are poorly stored by the body and require daily replenishment.  Their water solubility also makes them very safe with a low risk of toxicity from taking too much.  Food sources rich in the B’s include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and whole grains.  However, these foods are also highly allergenic for many patients.  And keep in mind, under stress, our natural hydrochloric acid production decreases and this is exactly what’s needed for proper absorption of most B vitamins.  If you are vegetarian, vegan, on a low allergenic diet, or under significant stress, you are a great candidate for a B vitamin supplement.

There are many ways to supplement B vitamins. Sometimes one B is prescribed alone (like vitamin B6 for morning sickness in pregnancy); otherwise they are used in combination (such as a general B complex to boost immunity).  As well, different B complexes have distinct formulas (for instance one highlights B5 needed for support during stress, but also offers smaller amounts of the others).  When choosing a supplement there is also a question of liquid vs. capsules, and oral vs. injected.

I see a true need for B vitamins in many of my patients right now, and a lot of careful consideration goes into the prescription of a supplement. If you are not taking any, or have questions about the ones you are taking, come on in to discuss the details with us today.  Let’s ease this challenging time with a good dose of the B’s!