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Helen Pensanti, M.D.

Quick Order Natural Hormones Dr. Pensanti Interview with John R. Lee M.D.

VITAMIN B

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

The B “family” consists of B1 (thiamin); B2 (riboflavin); B3 (niacin); B5 (pantothenic acid); B6 (pyridoxine); B12 (cyanocobalamin); B15 (pangamic acid); biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol and PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid). We will discuss each of these separately (with the exception of B15, which is not a common supplement taken alone).

Vitamin B complex is a supplement formulated to include several of the B vitamins. Even if you take other B vitamins separately, it is good to add a B complex supplement because these vitamins work best together and will make your regimen more effective. They are water soluble, so daily consumption is required.

B complex often turns the urine bright yellow. This is from vitamin B2, which is naturally yellow. Any excess that your body does not use is excreted. Stress, poor diet and alcohol rapidly deplete your body of B vitamins.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Produce energy, reducing fatigue
  • Diminish anxiety
  • Treat depression

Note: See individual members of B family discussed for comprehensive benefits of B vitamins.

VITAMIN B-1 THIAMINE

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • This important vitamin is water soluble, which makes daily consumption necessary.
  • Eating large quantities of fast food frequently can lead to a deficiency of B1.
  • B1 is an antioxidant. (Note: Antioxidants protect cells from the damaging effects of oxygen free radicals that occur during normal cell metabolism.1)

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Plays a major role in energy production
  • Supports the brain and nervous system
  • Improves circulation
  • Required for production of red blood cells
  • May help reduce diabetic neuropathy (numbness and tingling in extremities)
  • May help with symptoms of herpes zoster
  • Supports immune system
  • Supports adrenal glands
  • Improves digestion
  • Necessary for carbohydrate metabolism

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Brewer’s yeast, beans and peas, wheat germ, oatmeal, peanuts

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Recommended dose: 25–100 mg. daily
  • Works best if taken with a B complex supplement

EXCESS/LACK

  • A deficiency of thiamine can cause fatigue, “foggy brain” syndrome, heart palpitations and problems with vision.
  • Other symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, pins and needles in fingers and toes, muscle weakness and dizziness. Deficiencies of B1 are often found in psychiatric patients and alcoholics.
  • Deficiency of B1 also causes beriberi.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • Rare—not stored in the body

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

I always include B1 in my PMS formula because of its mild diuretic properties and its positive effect on the nervous system and mental attitude. I like to use it in conjunction with B2, B6, B12 and magnesium.

VITAMIN B-2 RIBOFLAVIN

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Riboflavin is water soluble, so daily consumption is required.
  • It gives urine its yellow color after consumption of multi-B vitamins.
  • B2 can also act as an antioxidant.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Helps turn food into energy
  • Assists in the formation of red blood cells
  • Helps body produce antibodies for immune function
  • Very important in reproduction and pregnancy

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Brewer’s yeast, spinach, asparagus, eggs, yogurt, beans, fish, organ meats, spinach

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Recommended dose is 25–100 mg. daily
  • Best if taken with a B complex supplement

EXCESS/LACK

  • A deficiency can lead to sore mouth (cracks at corners) and sore tongue, light sensitivity and watery or bloodshot eyes.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • None known

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, be sure to get at least 50 mg. B2 in your multiple vitamin. A lack of B2 can damage a developing fetus.

VITAMIN B-3 NIACIN

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Niacin is water soluble, so daily consumption is required.
  • It has a reputation as a health-heart vitamin.
  • Deficiencies of B3 are often found in elderly people with dementia and confusion.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Can raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Aids metabolism
  • Improves blood flow
  • Assists in production of sex hormones
  • Reduces sweet cravings
  • Helps keep skin healthy, fights acne
  • Helps relieve headaches, including migraines
  • Enhances memory
  • Reduces dizziness of Meniere’s disease
  • Treats headaches and other symptoms of alcohol consumption

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Fish, lean meat, poultry, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, eggs, nuts, legumes.

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usual dose is 100–400 mg. daily
  • To lower cholesterol, you need the inositol hexaniacinate form. Higher doses may be required and subsequently lowered as cholesterol goes down. Check with your physician.

EXCESS/LACK

  • A deficiency of niacin can cause bad breath and severe skin rashes.
  • Deficiency disease is called pellagra. The symptoms are dementia, diarrhea and an inflamed tongue. It is very rare in the U.S.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • Toxicity is rare.
  • Extremely high continuous doses can lead to liver damage.

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

If you are taking a separate supplement of niacin in addition to your B complex, avoid taking it on an empty stomach to avoid gastrointestinal distress. Do not supplement with plain niacin if you have gout or ulcers. Choose inositol hexanicotinate, instead.

CAUTION: Some forms of niacin can cause flushing of the skin, stomach irritation and itching. Two forms of niacin, inositol hexaniacinate and niacinamide, do not cause these side effects.

VITAMIN B-5 PANTOTHEIC ACID

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Pantothenic acid is water soluble, so daily consumption is required.
  • It is known as the antistress vitamin, providing wonderful support for exhausted adrenal glands.
  • Vitamin B5 aids the adrenal glands in manufacturing hormones.
  • It is vital for tissue health.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Helps fight stress and fatigue
  • Helps relieve allergies and asthma
  • Helps relieve arthritis
  • Helps relieve headaches
  • Helps treat and prevent depression and anxiety
  • Helps prevent anemia
  • Helps relieve psoriasis
  • Aids in wound healing and fighting infections

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Wheat germ, whole grains, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, nuts, eggs

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usual dose is 200–1,000 mg. daily, depending on stress level.

EXCESS/LACK

  • Lack of B5 may lead to depression, frequent infections and tingling in hands and feet.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • None known

VITAMIN B-6 PYRIDOXINE HCL

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • B6 is actually a group of substances—pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine—that function together.
  • Vitamin B6 is water soluble, so daily consumption is required.
  • It is vital to adrenal gland health and function.
  • B6 is known for having a positive effect on water retention and PMS symptoms.
    Food dyes, birth control pills and high-protein diets can lead to B6 deficiency. Be careful!
  • People with carpal tunnel syndrome are often deficient in B6.
  • Pyridoxine is critical for red blood cell production.
  • Deficiencies of vitamin B6 are often found in elderly people with dementia and confusion, as well as in diabetics.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Decreases your risk of heart attack and heart disease by decreasing homocysteine levels when taken with folic acid
  • Relieves acne
  • Aids mental clarity and brain function
  • Enhances immune system
  • Balances hormone and water levels (mild diuretic)
  • Helps relieve allergies and asthma
  • Relieves carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Helps relieve morning sickness
  • Reduces peripheral neuropathy, especially in diabetics
  • Treats or prevents anemia

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Wheat, soy beans, black strap molasses, spinach, cantaloupe, eggs, peanuts, fish

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usual dose: 100 mg. daily
  • Best if taken with a B complex supplement to prevent an imbalance
  • Also available in time-release capsules

EXCESS/LACK

  • Lack of B6 can lead to anemia and neuropathy (tingling in fingers and toes).
  • Lack of B6 can also lead to depression.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • Do not take more than 300 mg. daily to avoid neurological or liver damage.

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

Everyone should be taking B6 and folic acid daily to reduce their risk of heart attack. I recommend 150 mg. per day for PMS patients. My favorite form of vitamin B6 is a time-release capsule.

VITAMIN B-12

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Vitamin B12 is water soluble; therefore, daily consumption is necessary.
  • It is known as the “red” vitamin.
  • Alcohol destroys vitamin B12.
  • It is often deficient in the elderly.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Assists in formation of red blood cells, helping to prevent anemia
  • Helps reduce risk of heart attacks by lowering homocysteine levels
  • Diminishes fatigue and helps increase energy levels
  • Helps relieve allergies
  • Improves concentration and ability to learn and remember
  • Helps protect against smoking-induced cancers
  • Helpful to multiple sclerosis patients because it helps form and maintain the myelin sheath, which covers the nerves
  • Helps prevent graying of hair and balding

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Liver, beef, fish, eggs, cheese, poultry

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usual dose is 100–400 mcg. daily.

EXCESS/LACK

  • A deficiency of B12 can lead to pernicious anemia, depression and fatigue.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is often found in Alzheimer’s patients.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • None known

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

If you are a vegetarian and do not eat eggs, cheese or milk, then you need B12 supplementation. The body quickly absorbs the sublingual form of B12 better than a capsule that must pass through the stomach and digestive system.
If there is a severe vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to extreme fatigue or severe loss of cognitive function in the elderly, I recommend a weekly B12 injection until the condition is resolved.

BIOTIN

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Biotin is another member of the B complex family and is also water soluble.
  • It is used by the body to metabolize carbohydrates, fat and protein.
  • Biotin is needed by the body for the development of white blood cells.
  • Diabetics often have low biotin levels.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Prevents baldness and helps keep hair from turning gray
  • Enhances utilization of insulin (good for diabetes)
  • Helps treat psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and dandruff
  • Helps keep skin healthy
  • Keeps immune system strong

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, nuts, molasses, soybeans

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usual dose is 50–200 mcg.
  • It works best in combination with the other B vitamins and is usually found in B complex.

EXCESS/LACK

  • Lack of biotin can cause hair to turn gray; also, a deficiency can lead to severe exhaustion and depression.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • None known

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

If you are tired and pale and have a sore tongue, you may be deficient in biotin.
Also, anyone who eats raw egg whites is subject to biotin deficiency because a chemical in the egg white causes the body to excrete biotin. I do not recommend eating raw eggs, but if you do, take note.
Anecdotal evidence exists that 100 mg. of biotin daily may prevent hair loss in some men.

CHOLINE

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Choline is a member of the B family.
  • It is one of the few substances that can penetrate the blood brain barrier.
  • Acetylcholine, an important brain nutrient, cannot be produced in the body without choline.
  • Cooking often destroys the choline in foods.
  • Without choline, cell membranes would degenerate.
  • It aids in gallbadder and liver function.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Promotes brain health
  • Prevents build up of fat in the liver; helps detox the liver
  • Helps diminish/treat ringing in ears
  • May help retard aging of the brain (helps keep synapses healthy)
  • May help reduce and prevent asthma attacks
  • May aid in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Helps combat anxiety and stress by “calming the brain”
  • May be beneficial for Parkinson’s disease

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Egg yolks, soybeans, lecithin, meat, legumes, cabbage

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usual dose is 200–500 mg. daily.

EXCESS/LACK

  • A deficiency of choline may lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • None known

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

If you are having problems with memory, I strongly suggest adding choline to your vitamin regimen. People who drink alcohol should be aware of getting enough choline to help support their liver.

FOLIC ACID

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Folic acid is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies.
  • It is water soluble, so daily consumption is necessary.
  • It is essential for the formation of red blood cells.
  • A deficiency of folic acid can lead to anemia.
    Many people with dementia and mental confusion are found to be deficient in folic acid.
  • Low folic acid and elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is necessary for proper cell division, so it is extremely important in early pregnancy to have normal levels.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • Protects against birth defects of spina bifida and other neural tube defects
  • Helps lower homocysteine levels to reduce risk of heart disease and heart attack
  • Prevents canker sores
  • Relieves symptoms of gout
  • Helps treat acne
  • Helps prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease
  • Helps reduce restless leg syndrome
  • May help in treating cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer according to some studies
  • Enhances immune system
  • Aids in treatment of depression
  • Helps provide nourishment for the brain to prevent dementia
  • May help low sex drive or impotence
  • May help restore gray hair to its natural color

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Usually supplied in 400 mcg. and 800 mcg. strengths
  • Recommended dose: 800 mcg. daily

EXCESS/LACK

  • Deficiency may lead to anemia, headaches and heart palpitations.
  • Large doses of folic acid may interfere with some cancer drugs.
  • High doses of folic acid should not be used by anyone with a seizure disorder.

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • Rare

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

I strongly recommend a supplement regimen that includes folic acid and vitamin B6 since the data is so overwhelming that this can dramatically lower your risk of heart attack.
For women of childbearing age, studies have shown that a daily intake of 400 mcg. can prevent most neural tube defects. This regimen must begin prior to conception as the first six weeks of a fetus’s development are the most critical. (This is before many women even know they are pregnant.)
All elderly people and all women on birth control should take folic acid.
Check your multiple vitamins to make sure you are getting at least 400 mcg. daily.

INOSITOL

NUTRIENT INFORMATION

  • Inositol is a member of the B family.
  • Multiple sclerosis patients are often deficient in inositol.
  • It is vital for hair growth.

BENEFITS FOR YOUR BODY

  • It supports eye health.
  • It helps lower cholesterol.
  • It helps prevent hardening of the arteries.
  • It helps with diabetic neuropathy.
  • It enhances REM sleep (dream sleep).
  • It helps detox the liver.
  • High doses have been used to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
  • In conjunction with choline, inositol may help diminish PMS symptoms.

BEST NATURAL SOURCES

  • Whole grains, organ meats, legumes, raisins, lecithin

HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

  • Inositol is usually found in B complex supplements in doses of 25–250 mg.
    100 mg. would be a good dose.

EXCESS/LACK

  • Lack believed to contribute to symptoms of hair loss

TOXICITY ISSUES

  • None known

DOCTOR’S COMMENTS

Anyone who consumes alcohol or high levels of caffeine may have a shortage of inositol and require supplementation. Inositol and choline may help prevent thinning hair and baldness.

Cordially,

Helen Pensanti M.D.

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