This is part three in my series about B-Vitamins. In this part, I will discuss Folic Acid (B9), Biotin (B8), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Choline, and Inositol. You find part one here, and part two here.
Folic Acid is important for the formation of blood and for the synthesis of RDA/DNA; for normal cell function, digestion, and reproduction. It increases female fertility (tend to lead to twins) and stimulates lactation. In combination with B6 and B12, folic acid is essential for mental and cognitive functions in general, and for certain aspects of cardiovascular health. It contributes to healing of damaged blood vessels.
Deficiency of folic acid plays a role in the development of pernicious anaemia, and high doses of this vitamin can conceal the presence of the disease.
Official RDA: 400mcg (0.4mg).
If you take high dose vitamin C, you may need extra folic acid.
Some natural sources: green leaves (which gave folic acid its name), liver, brewer's yeast, peas and beans.
Folic acid is very sensitive to heating and is almost completely destroyed by cooking. Green leaves, the major source, are incompletely digested by many humans. A high degree of folic acid deficiency is very common.
Folic acid is known to interact especially with vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, C, and E.
Biotin stimulates growth of hair and nails, it is essential for immunity, for the balance of fatty acids, and for proper function of various glands. It can possibly prevent gout.
Horses can be given biotin to strengthen their hooves.
Official RDA: 300mcg (0.3mg).
OD: 300-750mcg (0.30-0.75mg).
Some natural sources: brewer's yeast, alfalfa sprouts, peanuts, nuts, beans, peas, eggs, liver.
Eggs (the white) contain a substance, avidin, which blocks the assimilation of biotin. Avidin is partly destroyed by heating, although what percentage of active avidin an egg still contains depends on the temperature and the time of heating. The higher temperature and the longer time, the faster and more complete destruction of avidin. With normal boiling of eggs, only a very small percentage of the acitve avidin remains; frying and baking destroys it even faster, since the temperature is normally above boiling level, and the egg is broken so it is heated all through much faster. The danger of causing a biotin deficiency by eating eggs is a danger mainly if you regularly eat raw eggs (whites, there is no avidin in the yolk) or some product made from raw eggs.
Biotin is known to interact especially with: B2, B6, B12, Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid.
Traditionally this vitamin is known for its effect on hair and skin, but it has many other functions. It is involved in all production of energy, in the synthesis of hormones and fatty acids, it lowers blood cholesterol, and it is a powerful antioxidant. In addition to that, it improves detoxification.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical which transfers signals between nerve cells), essential for the ability to reason, memory, muscle control, and many other functions. It is made from choline (see below), and pantothenic acid is necessary for the conversion. Thus it plays an important role in combating and preventing senility.
Official RDA: 10mg
Some natural sources: brewer's yeast, peanuts, fish (especially herring), eggs, beans.
Pantothenic Acid is known to interact especially with vitamin B1, B2, B3, Choline, Folic Acid, Biotin, and vitamin C.
Apart from other functions, choline, which is a part of lecithin, is a precursor to acetylcholine, and is essential for many nerve functions: memory, reasoning, etc.
(Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter - see above. A precursor is a chemical that can be changed to another by the body. That choline is a precursor to acetylcholine means that the latter is made from the former.)
Moreover, acetylcholine is important for sexual functions. In males it controls the signals that trigger erection. In females it seems to be involved in responsiveness.
Lecithin, in itself an excellent dietary supplement, contains choline in the form of Phosphatidyl choline (hence called PC), which is the form best utilised by the body. When you buy lecithin, make sure your chosen product contains as much phosphatidyl choline as possible, not less than 30%. Read the label!
PC is the material of which all cell membranes are made, and it is needed for continuous reparation of cells – especially brain and nerve cells.
Choline is essential for cardiovascular health, liver, glandular function, and for the metabolism of fats. It regulates blood cholesterol and positively affects the eyes.
Lecithin is best known for its ability to regulate blood cholesterol, but it is a substance of which much of the body is made. Of the dry weight of the brain, 30% is lecithin!
For the prevention and treatment of senility or any other form of diminished brain power, choline (preferably as lecithin) should always be involved. The same goes for cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, liver ailments, and cataract.
Official RDA: not established.
OD: 500-3000mg. (Much higher doses have been used without any adverse effect.)
Some natural sources: lecithin, brewer's yeast, eggs, soy.
WARNING: Manic-depressive people should not take choline, or any precursor to acetylcholine. It could deepen the depression-part of the cycle.
Choline is known to interact especially with Pantothenic Acid and Inositol.
Just as choline, inositol is a part of lecithin, and it is essential for the metabolism of fats, cardiovascular health, the skin, and various mental functions.
Some sources claim that this vitamin “cures” baldness, reviving hair growth where it has been lost. This has never been proved.
It might be true for some cases of baldness caused by vitamin deficiency, but certainly not for typical male baldness, which is a genetic matter, no disease or deficiency.
Official RDA: Not established.
Some natural sources: brewer's yeast, oats, maize, liver.
Inositol is known to interact especially with: Choline.
The Series to be continued...
Read also part one... B-Vitamins I: Introduction, and part two... B-Vitamins II: Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Cyanocobalamin
Other related articles:
Why Dietary Supplements are Needed
Supplements, Getting Them Right: Some Points to Consider
All my articles on Vitamins, Minerals & Nutrients can be found here.
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