B-complex vitamins are the Rodney Dangerfield of nutritional supplements—they don’t get no respect. All multivitamins contain a smattering of B vitamins, so what else do you need to know? Actually, there’s a lot of new research, especially on folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. Here are 5 reasons why you should be taking these three vitamins—and at dosages higher than what you’re likely taking now.
1. Stay Mentally Sharp
We lose about two percent of our brain volume every decade as we get older. Although this is a normal part of aging, accelerated atrophy is linked with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. British researchers studied annual blood tests and MRI scans of older men and women and found that those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin B12 had a sixfold greater risk of excessive brain volume loss.
2. Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
An elevated level of homocysteine—a toxic amino acid that damages the arteries—is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Several clinical trials have demonstrated that supplemental folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, which lower homocysteine, reduce risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.
3. Boost Your Energy
Vitamin B12 is an excellent energy booster. We offer B12 and magnesium injections at the clinic, and they’re so energizing that some patients learn how to self-inject so they can continue them at home. High doses of oral B12 also improves energy, especially in people who have low levels to begin with.
4. Lift Your Mood
Folic acid, B6, and B12 also improve mood. These vitamins play an indirect, but critical role in the formation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and deficiencies—as well as high levels of homocysteine—are linked with mood disorders. Although B-complex vitamins are not a stand-alone treatment for depression, they’re an important adjunct.
5. Get a Handle on Migraines
Researchers from “Down Under” have discovered that people who have migraines with aura are more likely to have mutations in a gene that leads to elevated levels of homocysteine. When they gave these migraine sufferers high doses of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 for six months, their homocysteine levels fell by 39 percent and their migraine disability scores were cut in half.
How much should you take?
Forget about the RDAs. As an example, the RDA of B12 for adults is just 2.4 mcg per day. Dutch researchers found that normalizing a mild B12 deficiency, however, required between 647 and 1,032 mcg—300–500 times more than the RDA!