The Killer B's You Have Never Heard of...
Listen up, my fellow friends.
Today, we're going to plow through some very important (and often ignored) molecules that your body desperately needs from your good decisions, but I want to make one thing clear before we get started.
Synthetic vitamins and minerals don't even come close to naturally-derived nutrition.
You'll find loads of packaged, highly-processed foods that are boastfully fortified or "enriched" with nutrients. I'm here to tell you that this isn't good enough.
"Well, why not?" Yes, I can hear your thoughts.
Real, whole foods pack a health punch that could never be emulated by Big Industry. These foods are perfectly formulated to provide you with enzymes needed to break it down, fats needed to properly absorb and transport them, and/or the many vitamins, minerals and amino acids that all work together to sustain you in the best way possible. Isolating each nutrient in a lab and uploading it to refined, chemically-laden edible food-like substances doesn't even come close to getting the job done. And we wonder why people are so sick.
Now, that doesn't mean there isn't a place for supplementation. There certainly is--but keep your pants on, we'll get into that a bit later in this series.
Remember, there are two rules:
1) Don't get overwhelmed. Nutrition isn't complicated until we make it so. Forget counting calories, macros, micrograms, or IU's. If you eat real food complete with quality animal products, you're winning.
2) Open your mind to new concepts and ideas. Be willing to unlearn and relearn some things.
Got it? Let's begin.
*Note: As we continue to explore the details of each B vitamin, you'll find that many of their functions, benefits and deficiency symptoms overlap each other. This is because they work harmoniously together--like all the moving parts of a clock. It's also why you'll find many supplements for these in a "B Complex."
I hope you're beginning to see that the body and all its individual parts work as a whole, and not as Big Pharma or conventional medicine teaches or treats it--with each part in isolation from all the rest.
This shift in perspective is a crucial piece for true healing.
I. Meet the Killer B's...
They are Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin) and B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
These guys are often the B vitamins that get the least amount of attention in a line up with B1, B6 and B12--but truly they are "killer" or exceptionally awesome in their own right. (Thank you 80's slang!)
Each of these particular molecules work synergistically with the other B vitamins to properly sustain the body in almost every area--your cardiovascular, blood, metabolic, hormone and nervous systems, as well as digestion, skin, neurological & eye health.
Let's nerd out for a minute by detailing the specifics. Come on, it's fun.
Vitamin B2 stands out as a powerful antioxidant among its other functions, and can do wonders in helping control the damage of free radicals caused by our toxic environment. Unchecked, these free radicals can lead to major dysfunction and even cancer down the line. And its antioxidant capabilities are likely the reason why it's shown to be particularly helpful in preventing cataracts.
B2 is also needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin, the molecule that transfers oxygen throughout the body; as well as healthy skin development, replenishing the lining of the digestive tract (food sensitivities, anyone?!), ensuring healthy blood cells by helping you process iron correctly, and maintaining healthy vital organs..
Vitamin B3 (niacin) comes in various forms like tryptophan (made in small amounts by your body), niacinamide, nicotinic acid and inositol hexaniacinate. (Don't worry, those names won't be on the test.) This molecule is a fundamental participant in protecting the heart from oxidative stress, keeping your blood cholesterol levels balanced properly, preventing blood sugar dysfunction, supporting brain function, and promoting skin health.
It is a nutrient that is chronically used to treat and prevent a host of symptoms in the body even though its interaction within our systems isn't fully understood by researchers. Being water-soluble, it's very difficult to get too much vitamin B3 from whole foods as the body is brilliantly designed to excrete unnecessary excess in a timely manner. However, when supplementing with niacin in high doses, it is possible to get too much and suffer some toxicity symptoms like headaches, nausea/vomiting, liver dysfunction or stomach ulcers. But alas, you don't have to worry about such things when consuming real, whole foods, now do you?
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is used to make coenzyme A (CoA)--a crucial compound that helps your enzymes construct and deconstruct fatty acids and use them as primary fuel for your muscles, tissues and organs.
B5 also aids in the creation of red blood cells, the protection of your digestive tract, the production of cholesterol and the support of your hormone function.
That's all amazing info, isn't it? But here's the thing. Without these killer B's, your body would not be able to properly break down your food and adequately nourish your mitochondria--the little powerhouses sitting inside each and every cell you have. This is where energy is produced for every other process needed to keep you alive and keep your body strong and resilient
Now that's legit.
B2, B3 and B5 all play a profound role in metabolizing energy properly. That's why fatigue plagues those who do not get enough B vitamins in their diet or do not absorb them properly.
So let's pretend for a moment that you're lacking in the killer B's. How would that manifest?
II. Deficiency Symptoms
If you don''t habitually consume real, whole nutrient-dense foods, you like McDonalds and Taco Bell a lot, you're malnourished, or are a hardcore Vegan--then you might be experiencing some increasingly nasty symptoms.
Deficiency symptoms for B2 include:
fatigue or low energy
cracking skin or sores around the nose & mouth
inflammation of the skin
swollen or painful tongue
swollen mucous membranes
increased anxiety and depression
Deficiency symptoms for B3 include:
memory loss & Dementia
declining brain function
Pellagra (skin sensitivity & inflammation)
digestive distress (stomach pain, nausea, burning esophagus)
psychosis (disorientation, confusion, paranoia)
Deficiency symptoms for B5 include:
hard to pin-point discomfort/uneasiness
Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
nausea or stomach pain
numbness or a burning sensation in hands/feet
Those are 3 ugly lists. So how can we avoid those things? By choosing wisely.
III. Top Food Sources:
- Raw cheese & other raw dairy
- Sweet Potatoes
- Beef & Beef Liver
- Soaked Almonds
- Sunflower Seeds
Ironically, corn is high in a natural form of Vitamin B3 (niacin). But corn doesn't make the 'Top Foods List.' Why not?
Because the niacin (and corn's other nutrients) are actually bound to the molecular chain of its carbohydrate and is incredibly difficult for the human body to break down and absorb. This is actually the case for many vegetables, nuts & seeds--which is precisely why I rarely recommend them as sources for nutrition.
While they may not be as destructive as commercially-sold soda and pizza, the preparation of these foods matters a great deal in order to be able to access their nutrient profile--which is what makes them NON-nutrient-dense foods. (I'll post more about that later.)
So now that you know why these are the killer B's--a word of caution.
Many pharmaceutical medications can easily interfere with the breakdown and absorption of these essential nutrients. So while it doesn't seem likely that someone would be deficient here in our well-fed American utopia--you'd be surprised. People who consistently take birth control, depression meds, asthma meds, allergy meds or antibiotics may be facing killer B deficiencies that their doctors are having a hard time understanding.
Stay tuned for more, grasshoppers. Until then, eat more beef liver!