Vitamin B Supplements North Pole AK
The B Team
Given all the hazards to your well-being out there (sagging skin, cardiovascular
By Patrick Dougherty
From November, 2006
Why is the sky blue? What is the definition of irony? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-pop? Ask passers-by on the street, and they will find these questions to be “stumpers,” concepts that we understand vaguely, but struggle to define. How about this one? What is a vitamin? We know they are good for us (and we’ve got stacks of vitamin bottles to prove it), but how many of us can actually define what a vitamin is?
Simply put, vitamins are organic substances that enable our bodies to grow and function normally. This may sound unimpressive, but the bottom line is that vitamins are essential for life. There are thousands of different functions taking place in our bodies that only happen because of vitamins. And the B vitamins are a perfect example of this vital role—enabling a myriad of important internal functions while delivering health benefits that we are just beginning to understand.
To grasp the role of Bs and other vitamins, we must view the body as a sophisticated laboratory, producing myriad chemical reactions. Our immune system, for example, is a chemical reaction network so complex it makes the most advanced pharmaceutical laboratory look like a seventh grader’s baking soda volcano for a science fair. Functions we often take for granted—digesting food, walking up stairs, even the act of thinking—are all facilitated by chemical reactions within the body.
Thousands of these internal chemical reactions depend on enzymes, which accelerate the reactions to completion. Many enzymes only work with a little help from their friends—molecular buddies called coenzymes. This is where the B vitamins come in. Most B vitamins are coenzymes, helping enzymes carry out chemical reactions in the body. This coenzyme capacity partly explains why there are many different kinds of B vitamins.
How come there’s one vitamin C, but several B vitamins, you ask? (You might also ask why vitamins skip from vitamin E to vitamin K, leaving out vitamins F, G, H and I…but we digress.) The answer has to do with vitamin discoveries and the evolution of their classification.
“Historically, it was once thought that vitamin B was a single vitamin, similar to vitamin C,” explains Victoria Drake, PhD, Research Associate at the Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health in Corvallis, Oregon. “But many B vitamins were discovered, each having distinct biochemical functions. Because the various B vitamins were often found in the same foods, and were involved in similar end functions within the body, such as energy metabolism...they were grouped under the ‘B vitamins’ umbrella.”
As a result of this re-ordered vitamin cla...