B Vitamins

B vitamins are a class of many chemically different water-soluble vitamins and they are all enzyme cofactors playing important roles in metabolism. Vitamin B1 was the first vitamin ever discovered back in 1912 by Casimir Funk.

The most important types of B vitamins are: thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (nicotinic acid, nicotinic acid amide, vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine), biotin (vitamin B7), folic acid (pteroylglutamic acid, vitamin B9) and cobalamin (vitamin B12). Choline is also often grouped with the vitamin B complex due to its similar properties and functions, although choline is not officially classified as neither a vitamin nor a mineral.

The Most Relevant Recent Scientific Reviews

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Vitamin B Derivative (Nicotinamide) Appears to Reduce Skin Cancer Risk.

Nicotinamide, an amide form of vitamin B3, has shown the potential to treat a variety of dermatological conditions, including acne, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis. Recent studies have demonstrated the role of nicotinamide, in both topical and oral forms, as a chemopreventive agent against skin cancer. Its anti-carcinogenic role may be due to its ability to enhance DNA repair and prevent ultraviolet (UV)-induced immunosuppression, which is known to contribute to the progression of pre-malignant lesions. Furthermore, nicotinamide is a precursor of essential coenzymes for many important reactions in the body, including the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is a key coenzyme in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which transports chemical energy within cells. Therefore, nicotinamide plays a significant role in supporting energy-dependent cellular processes, including DNA repair.

Is there a Link between Vitamin B and Multiple Sclerosis?

BACKGROUND: Damage to the myelin sheath (demyelination) is one of the main manifestations of multiple sclerosis (MS). Interestingly, both MS and vitamin B deficiencies result in severe myelin degeneration, leading to loss in neuronal signal transmission. OBJECTIVE: Deficiency in vitamin B complex vary, although common symptoms include fatigue, increased oxidative stress, inflammation and demyelination. In particular, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) has had increased attention for its role in the methylation process, involvement in myelination and remyelination, and reversal of MS symptoms. METHOD: Here, we discuss the role of vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) in MS. RESULTS: The anti-inflammatory and re-myelinating attributes of vitamin B complex members are promising, despite limited clinical studies. CONCLUSION: There is an urgent need for larger studies to determine the role of vitamin B supplementation alone, or in combination with other therapeutic agents, in prevention or reversal of MS, and aid in improved quality of life of MS patients.

Lack of Association between Serum Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D Levels with Different Types of Glaucoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Although vitamins play a major role in health, and their deficiency may be linked to symptoms of optic-nerve dysfunction, the association between serum vitamin levels and glaucoma in humans remains controversial. In this study, articles in the PubMed, Web of Science, and EMBASE databases were searched up to 25 March 2017. Nine studies on primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), four studies on normal tension glaucoma (NTG), and six studies on exfoliative glaucoma (EXG) were retrieved. The combined results showed no differences in the levels of serum vitamin B₆ between POAG (p = 0.406) and EXG (p = 0.139) patients and controls. The weighted mean differences (WMDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were 2.792 ng/mL (-3.793 to 9.377) and 1.342 ng/mL (-3.120 to 0.436), respectively. There was no difference between POAG (p = 0.952), NTG (p = 0.757), or EXG (p = 0.064) patients and controls in terms of serum vitamin B12. The WMDs with 95% CIs were 0.933 pg/mL (-31.116 to 29.249), 6.652 pg/mL (-35.473 to 48.777), and 49.946 pg/mL (-102.892 to 3.001), respectively. The serum vitamin D levels exhibited no differences (p = 0.064) between POAG patients and controls; the WMD with 95% CI was 2.488 ng/mL (-5.120 to 0.145). In conclusion, there was no association found between serum vitamin B₆, vitamin B12, or vitamin D levels and the different types of glaucoma.

Efficacy of Vitamin B Supplementation on Cognition in Elderly Patients With Cognitive-Related Diseases.

Increase in serum homocysteine is shown to be a potential risk factor for cognitive impairment. Evidence suggests that vitamin B supplementation may reduce cognitive decline by lowering the homocysteine levels. The current meta-analysis evaluated the efficacy of folic acid along with vitamin B12 and/or B6 in lowering homocysteine, thereby attenuating cognitive decline in elderly patients with Alzheimer disease or dementia. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the efficacy of folate and B vitamin supplementation in patients with cognitive decline secondary to Alzheimer disease or dementia were identified using the keywords, “homocysteine, hyper-homocysteinemia, B vitamin, vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, cognitive, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.” The outcome measures analyzed were the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score and serum homocysteine. Of the 77 studies identified, 4 RCTs were included in the current meta-analysis. The baseline characteristics, age, and gender distribution of patients among the 2 groups (supplement vs placebo) were comparable. The results reveal that the intervention group achieved significantly greater reduction in homocysteine levels than the control (pooled difference in means = -3.625, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -5.642 to -1.608, P < .001). However, no significant difference in MMSE (pooled difference in means = 0.027, 95% CI = -0.518 to 0.573, P = 0.921) was observed between the groups. Taken together, vitamin B supplementation was effective in reducing serum homocysteine levels. However, it did not translate into cognitive improvement, indicating that the existing data on vitamin B-induced improvement in cognition by lowering homocysteine levels are conflicting.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) and the Glutathione Peroxidase System; a Link between One-Carbon Metabolism and Antioxidation.

Vitamin B₆ (B₆) has a central role in the metabolism of amino acids, which includes important interactions with endogenous redox reactions through its effects on the glutathione peroxidase (GPX) system. In fact, B₆-dependent enzymes catalyse most reactions of the transsulfuration pathway, driving homocysteine to cysteine and further into GPX proteins. Considering that mammals metabolize sulfur- and seleno-amino acids similarly, B₆ plays an important role in the fate of sulfur-homocysteine and its seleno counterpart between transsulfuration and one-carbon metabolism, especially under oxidative stress conditions. This is particularly important in reproduction because ovarian metabolism may generate an excess of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during the peri-estrus period, which may impair ovulatory functions and early embryo development. Later in gestation, placentation raises embryo oxygen tension and may induce a higher expression of ROS markers and eventually embryo losses. Interestingly, the metabolic accumulation of ROS up-regulates the flow of one-carbon units to transsulfuration and down-regulates remethylation. However, in embryos, the transsulfuration pathway is not functional, making the understanding of the interplay between these two pathways particularly crucial. In this review, the importance of the maternal metabolic status of B₆ for the flow of one-carbon units towards both maternal and embryonic GPX systems is discussed. Additionally, B₆ effects on GPX activity and gene expression in dams, as well as embryo development, are presented in a pig model under different oxidative stress conditions.

The effects of vitamin B on the immune/cytokine network and their involvement in depression.

Increasing evidence indicates that there are various interactions between the nervous system and the immune system, and that the immune system plays an important role in the pathogenesis of depression. Pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as IL-1, IL-6, TNF-α) have been implicated in the neurobiological manifestations of depression. The immune/cytokine network has a powerful influence on the brain. In addition, deficiency in B vitamins has been linked to depression. Hence, greater knowledge of how immune cells change in the presence of vitamin B derivatives could improve understanding of how immune changes may correlate with depression, all of which are discussed herein.

Vitamin B12 and Cognition in Children.

Vitamin B-12 is essential for brain development, neural myelination, and cognitive function. Inadequate vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy and early childhood has been associated with adverse child health outcomes, including impaired cognitive development. However, the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. This review was conducted to examine the evidence that links vitamin B-12 and cognition in children. The search strategy resulted in 17 studies: 3 cross-sectional, 1 case-control, and 12 cohort studies, and 1 randomized trial. Cognitive processes assessed included attention, memory, and perception. Developmental outcomes, academic performance, and intelligence quotient were also considered. Despite the high prevalence of vitamin B-12 insufficiency and associated risk of adverse cognitive outcomes in children, to our knowledge, no studies to date have been conducted to examine the effects of vitamin B-12 supplementation on cognition in children. The role of vitamin B-12 in the etiology of child cognitive outcomes needs to be elucidated to inform public health interventions.