Friday, 16 February 2018

Eating for a Healthy Mind: The Role of B Vitamins on Your Mental Health

Vitamin Bis a name given to a complex range of compounds, some of which have similar functions and work together within the body. Unlike other vitamins, B vitamins vary in such a way that they are individually named and listed in foods. The majourity of B vitamins are water soluable so only limited amounts are stored in the body.

The diet plays an important role in the health of not only your body but also your mind. We will focus this article on the specific benefits of the B vitamins to mental wellbeing and over all health, featuring a list of B vitamins with their roles and functions and associated cognitive disorders
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is an essential compound for many of the metabolic functions in the body, especially in the conversion of carbohydrates to energy. Symptoms of Thiamine deficiency effects the nervous system and long term deficiency can lead to a confused mental state, psychosis and speech issues. Though deficiency is rare, it has been associated with people with alcoholism, alcohol believed to adversely effect thiamine absorption. In the U.K. most breakfast cereals are fortified with thiamine, while potatoes, nuts, meat and milk are other sources for consumption.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is found in a wide variety of foods and dairy products and works in the body to aid the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. Deficiencies are rare and are usually seen in conjunction with other vitamin B deficiency.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) is believed to increase the amount of high density lipoproteins circulating in the body, while reducing the number of low density lipoproteins. The effect on the ratio of HDL to LDL is believed to lower the risk of developing heart disease. Deficiency of niacin, known as Pellagra, is often described as the ‘Four D’s’ as symptoms include, diarrhoea, dermatitis, dementia and death. A diet that contains meat usually lowers the risk of deficiency while poor communities with a diet high in maize or sorghum usually see higher incidents of the disease.
Found in almost all foods Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) is required by the body to synthesize coenzyme A, an enzyme involved in energy metabolism and in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Deficiency is very rare but can include fatigue, irritability and apathy.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) works to convert amino acids and metabolise fat and carbohydrates. Though found in a variety of foods it is easily destroyed in the cooking process. There is currently no disease associated with vitamin B6 deficiency as its shortage is usually found in conjunction with other vitamin B deficiency, however general symptoms include anaemia, dermatitis, headaches and difficulty walking.
Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9) is the name given to a group of related compounds involved in amino acid synthesis, which play an important role in cell division especially as it relates to the formation of bone marrow and the digestive lining. Folate is found mainly und in green vegetables, oranges, potatoes and liver it is less sensitive to heat in comparison to other B vitamins.
Folate deficiency is the second leading cause of anaemia in the U.K. after Iron. Due to the large amount of cell division that takes place during the first few months of pregnancy, pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing this form of anaemia and are often prescribed supplements to cope with the increased demand on their bodies. Multiple factors and lifestyle choices can affect folate uptake including smoking, alcohol and drug abuse and the use of aspirin, indigestion medication and the contraceptive pill.

The U.K fortifes flour and breads with folate to decrease the occurrence of deficiency in the general public however high levels of folate are believed to mask the symptoms of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) deficiency. Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of myeline, deficiency of which leading to neurological related symptoms, with chronic deficiency leading to paralysis and dementia, seen most frequently in the elderly.
Unlike most B vitamins the body does not require regular uptake of Vitamin B12 this is because it is stored in the liver and can last fro up to 30 years. Found in meats and dairy products vegetarians and vegans may require a supplement to prevent deficiencies occurring.

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