Many are the vitamin B complex benefits for our body, but a most important one could be the prevention of neuropathy in persons who have diabetes. Deficiencies in B-complex vitamins are associated with nerve damage, even in people who don’t have diabetes. A short supply of these vitamins can damage blood vessels and cause atherosclerosis, a very dangerous condition for everybody but especially for diabetics.
Vitamin B6 deficiency effects
Low levels of vitamin B6 can cause the following problems in our body:
1. Low blood levels of vitamin C
2. Increased excretion of calcium, zinc, and magnesium
3. Reduced copper absorption
4. Decreased immune system
Adequate amount of B6 vitamin helps as follow:
1. It prevents glycosylation of proteins which is responsible for diabetes complications
2. It decrease amount of C-reactive protein. This protein is an indication of inflammation that is associated with heart disease.
3. It prevents nerve damage. Neuropathy is a common condition in diabetics.
Food processing can destroy much of this vitamin.
Sources of B6 vitamin
Meat (organic grass fed)
Vegetarian meat substitutes
Halibut, trout, herring, mackerel
Vitamin B12 is needed for many functions to take place in the body such as:
1. Absorption of protein, fat and carbohydrate
2. Formation of red blood cells
3. Cell respiration and growth
4. Vitamin B12 works closely with vitamin B6 and folic acid to decrease elevated homocysteine levels.
5. It can prevent and relieve nerve damage.
Large doses of vitamin C can increase excretion of vitamin B12. Alcohol, sleeping pills, antacids can destroy or decrease vitamin B12. Older people do not always produce enough intrinsic factor which makes absorption of this vitamin difficult.
Sources of vitamin B12
Biotin works in unison with B12, folate and pantothenic acid and it is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Body functions where biotin is critical
1. Biotin is involved in production and release of insulin. People with diabetes type 2 have lower concentrations of biotin in the blood.
2. It helps improve blood glucose control, especially for people with diabetes type 2.
3. Biotin can improve peripheral neuropathy.
4. It can help reduce excessive glucose produced by the liver and improve insulin sensitivity.
Low biotin levels have been found in elderly people and smokers. Biotin is found in most foods and it is resistant to heat.
Folic acid (folate)
A deficiency of folic acid causes anemia. The body cannot make any folate, therefore we must obtain it from foods. Enough folate can be stored to prevent a deficiency from occurring for up to four monts.
Folic acid is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. When folate is present, it works with vitamin B12 to recycle homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine is more common in people with diabetes and is a known risk factor in heart disease.
Metformin may inhibit the absorption of folic acid. So can antacids, cimetidine, and ranitidine, used to treat heartburn and ulcers.
Folate is sensitive to heat. Boiling, steaming, or frying for five to ten minutes may destroy up to 96 percent of the folate in a food.
Sources of folic acid
Split peas, avocados
Lima beans, mung beans
Other vitamins of the Complex B include Vitamin B1, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Pantothenic Acid.
As you can see, one more time, natural foods as well as fresh fruits and raw vegetables supply us basically all the vitamins we need. Try to include in your meals as many fresh foods as you can and stay away from processed foods. You will notice the difference in your health.
To your optimal health!
Emilia Klapp, RD,BS
Your Diabetes Coach