How Many B Vitamins Are There?
Most of us are aware of the essential antioxidant vitamins A, c and E and also the importance of Vitamin D sometimes called the sunshine vitamins. Many of the B vitamin complex like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin also get their fair share of attention and deserved credit.
However, there are lesser known but possibly equally important vitamins that don’t get anywhere near the credit they deserve and are understandably little understood. These include choline or Vitamin B4, vitamin B8, B10 and B15. This article hopes to enlighten you a little regarding the importance of some of these lesser known vitamins.
Vitamin B4 – Choline
Choline or vitamin B4 is starting to receive some deserved respect. Our bodies are able to produce some choline but not in the amounts necessary and as a result it was classified as an essential nutrient in 1998.
The Role of Choline
Choline plays various important roles within our bodies. It assists with the effective transmission of neural impulses and helps cells to communicate with each other. It also helps the walls of our cells to maintain structural integrity. Choline helps transport cholesterol and fats from the livers into the tissues explaining why choline deficiency is often associated with liver disease like fatty liver.
Choline is considered to be especially important in early childhood and during pregnancy. It plays a very similar role to folate and is vital for fetal brain development and intellectual growth. After birth, choline plays a vital role in early cognitive development in infants.
The recommended requirement of choline for women is 425 mg a day but this requirement increases to 450 mg during pregnancy and 550 mg a day when breast feeding. Studies have found that women who consumed 500 mg or so a day had less risk of giving birth to a baby with neural defects.
Let’s not forget men- we also need choline and our recommended daily intake is 550 mg each day.
Dietary sources of Choline
By far the best dietary source of choline are eggs which provide 125 mg each and there is some evidence that avoiding egg yolks because of cholesterol fears may have contributed to choline deficiency in the West.
Other excellent sources of dietary choline are liver especially beef liver, pork, chicken, lamb, fish, soybeans and shellfish. As you can see, the best source of choline are animal products which makes it difficult for vegans to get it in sufficient amounts.
While milk, yogurt and certain green vegetables have limited amount of choline, they may be better off trying to supplement their diets with a supplement containing vitamin B4.
You can read a more detailed article about more of the specific benefits of choline and the effects of Vitamin B4 deficiency.
Vitamin B10 – PABA
PABA which is an acronym for para-aminobenzonic acid is considered to be a non-essential nutrient but is still regarded by many people to be part of the B vitamin family hence it is often referred to as vitamin B10 or Bx. It is also a component of folic acid but differs greatly from the other members of the B vitamin complex family and there are some concerns about overdose or allergic reaction.
PABA is a natural antioxidant and is useful for the health of your intestines as well as your hair and skin. Most of the research into the effects of PABA have focused on its ability to treat connective tissue problems like scleroderma but it has also proven effective in dealing with other complaints like arthritis and female infertility.
Benefits of B10 – PABA
Some studies seem to suggest that taking PABA supplements in a dose of 100mgs 4 times each day can help women to become pregnant but more research is necessary.
This skin disorder which results in a loss of pigmentation and white blotches on the skin is cause when pigment producing cells are destroyed. Taking regular PABA supplements at 100mg 3 or 4 times daily may improve the condition.
As a Topical Sunscreen
According to experts including the American Melanoma foundation, PABA may help protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. However, there are reports that some people are allergic to the topical use of PABA and more research is desirable.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis Treatment
This is a condition which results from a severe allergic reaction to foods which causes an uncomfortable and itchy skin rash. There is some evidence that PABA supplements can help reduce the skin reactions characteristic of the condition so you should be careful before applying it topically.
- Other conditions that may be associated with a PABA deficiency include:
- Signs of aging like wrinkles or graying hair
- Inflammatory conditions like arthritis
Dietary sources of Vitamin B10
PABA can be found in eggs, rice, yeast, whole grains, wheat germ, spinach kidney, liver and mushrooms. It is also produced by intestinal bacteria.
Vitamin B15 – Pangamic Acid
There is endless confusion surrounding this vitamin which is also referred to as calcium pangamate or DMG. Those living in many parts of Europe and Russia where it was first discovered have a better understanding of the nutrient where it is has been considered essential since the 1960s.
The FDA recognizes pangamic acid but does not acknowledge it as being a vitamin and it has been banned in the USA after being deemed an unsafe food additive.
Pangamic acid was originally isolated from the kernels of apricots in the late 1930s and given the trade name of B15 in 1943. It was originally described to have a range of therapeutic benefits including positive effects on the skin, joints, nervous and respiratory systems.
While it has been banned in the US since the 1970s, many countries around the world notably in Europe continue to market the supplement in the form of calcium pangamate. In Russia, it is used to increase energy and improve athletic performance, reduce heart disease and also to help fight autism and senility. In other parts of Europe, pangamic acid is used to fight the signs of premature aging.
There is little scientific research in North America into the therapeutic benefits of vitamin B15 but potential benefits include its role in cell respiration and glucose oxidation by increasing the transport of oxygen to your heart and to other muscles. It is also possibly able to stimulate a healthy nervous system and may promote proper liver function and aid in detoxification.
Potential signs of Vitamin B15 deficiency include chronic inflammation, arthritis, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and asthma. Other possible consequences of deficiency may be hepatitis, chronic pain and fatigue. However with so little research being done, it is very difficult to be certain how important this mineral is to your health.
Dietary Sources of Pangamic acid
You can get pangamic acid from various dietary means including beef blood, brown rice and other whole grains, apricot kernels, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
DMG or dimethyl glycine is often used as a replacement for vitamin B15 because it is believed to combine with gluconic acid to produce pangamic acid within the body.
Vitamin B8 – Inositol
This is another often forgotten about vitamin with numerous health benefits. It has a special relationship with choline and we have written a full article about its many benefits here.