All the water soluble vitamins that are considered essential with the important exception of the vitamin C are included in the grouping known as the vitamin B complex. These B complex vitamins are: the vitamin B1 or thiamine, the vitamin B2 or riboflavin, the vitamin B3 or niacin, the vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid, the vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, the compound called biotin, the compound folic acid and the vitamin B12 or cobalamin. A false belief in earlier decades was that the "vitamin B" was a single nutrient found in yeast, liver and the extracts of rice. As vitamins were studied more thoroughly, clinical researchers found several different types of vitamins in rice extracts, all these different compounds were then assigned specific numbers to differentiate them. The unfortunate conclusion of the layman and the non-scientists was that this numbering scheme implied the existence of a special relationship between each of these vitamins. This confusion was increased by the "unofficial" designation of many other class of substances with membership in the B-complex group of vitamins, compounds such as choline, inositol and para-aminobenzoic acid - PABA, though these compounds are strictly speaking not considered to be vitamins nor are they essential in the diet - they were still placed within the B complex group of vitamins.
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The B complex group of vitamins consists of members that have a unique structure and that perform unique functions within the human body - and none of these vitamins has a common structure in terms of biochemistry. Metabolism, its regulation and the production of energy are areas in which the vitamins B1, B2, B3 and biotin are involved. The vitamin B6 is involved in the metabolism of each and every amino acid. The process of cell division and the bio-chemical steps involved in cellular division are facilitated by the vitamin B12 and the folic acid. Many functional roles can additionally be performed by each of these vitamins. There are however, no bio-chemical pathways in the body that require all the B-complex vitamin at one and the same time in order to function - this is contrary to what is popularly believed by most laymen.
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There is a wide variation in the requirements for different members of the B-complex in the human body. Requirements for these vitamins can vary significantly - for example, from 3 mcg daily for the vitamin B12 to about 18 mg daily for the vitamin B3 is required by most adult males who are otherwise healthy. There is consequently little use in taking equal amounts of each vitamin as provided for in many of the B-complex supplements available in the market. There is in addition, a complete lack of evidence to support the use of mega doses of the B-complex vitamins in order to deal with daily stress, to boost the levels of energy or to bring food cravings under control - such mega doses are not advised and should be taken only if the person suffers from a severe deficiency in the levels of one of the vitamins in the body. Another popular belief is to take all the B vitamins together to avoid developing an imbalance in the levels of one of the vitamins when one or more of the individual B vitamins used to alleviate a specific health condition - this belief has no basis in fact and is not supported by any evidence.
The B complex group of vitamins is found in most of the multiple vitamin or multi-mineral products combined with all of the essential vitamins and trace minerals necessary for human health. The use of multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplements are recommended to increase the rate of micronutrient intake and to prevent deficiencies as these supplements are more complete and contain all the nutrients required for optimum health.
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The B vitamins form a crucial role in our diet and are required to assist in keeping away from several health disorders. However, barring vitamin B9 (folic acid), there is a lack of adequate scientific proof to know if B vitamins have the aptitude to lessen the hazards of developing cancer.
Individuals whose diet is low in folic acid content are known to be facing augmented risk of developing specific types of cancer. Therefore, many experts suggest that we should take a diet that is rich in vegetables that enclose this particular vitamin and maybe taking a multivitamin supplement enclosing the suggested daily value of folic acid (vitamin B9) every day.
Moreover, it may be noted that vitamin B complex is vital for accurate synthesis of DNA and RNA as well as production of cells. Since our hair, skin and nails are growing continuously as well as replenishing themselves, we require the B vitamins mentioned hereafter to make sure that the health of these structures remains in excellent condition. The B vitamins required for this purpose include vitamin B1, vitamin B9, vitamin B3, vitamin B2, vitamin B12 as well as biotin and choline. Dearth of any of the B vitamins mentioned here may result in dehydrated, grey skin, wrinkles, dermatitis, rashes, acne, fragile and splitting nails and falling hair.
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In addition to the above mentioned requirements, vitamin B complex is indispensible for proper digestion, hydrochloric acid (HCl) production as well as to help in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In effect, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 are particularly necessary for excellent digestion. Any shortage of any of the vitamins included in vitamin B complex may result in weakened digestion as well as dearth of essential nourishments.
It may be mentioned that all the B vitamins perform very closely with each other and, therefore, dearth of any particular B vitamin may result in weakened functioning of either or all the other B vitamins despite the remaining being in adequate supply. It is advisable that you should take B vitamins in the form of vitamin B complex all the times and subsequently, if required you may replenish with any particular vitamin B.
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People taking vitamin B complex supplementations or considering taking them ought to be aware of their potential side effects and take proper precautions. It may be noted that all B vitamins are soluble in water, which denotes that taking them in excess amount is mostly excreted by means of urination. While all supplements containing B vitamins are usually believed to be safe for use, yet they should never be taken in excessive dosages. The possible adverse effects of taking B vitamins in excess may include high levels of blood sugar, gout and different skin complaints. Overdose of B vitamins may also cause liver and heart problems. Although rare, but taking heavy doses of niacin (vitamin B3) supplements may result in queasiness, hazy vision, vomiting and also aggravate stomach ulcers. Taking folic acid (B9) supplements in excessive doses may slow down a minimum of one chemotherapy drug, methotrexate as well as other similar medications. Hence it is important that before taking B vitamins you should always inform your doctor and/ or pharmacist about the supplements and herbs you are already taking.
Dependent only on the use of B vitamins plus keeping away from or postponing the usual medical treatment for cancer may possibly result in grave and adverse health end results.