Keeping your immune system as healthy as possible is critical. During these unprecedented times it is more at the forefront of your mind. What should you be eating? What does your body need? Am I genetically predisposed to certain deficiencies? Our Immune Boosters series continues with the B vitamin complex.
B vitamins – are made up of 8 key vitamins that form the B- vitamin family. They will both individually and collectively offer a whole variety of health properties.
Each of the above B vitamins has its own special functions, some of these will be listed below with a brief explanation into each vitamin, and then a look at some specific studies that might be useful to understand.
The below studies will highlight the importance of B vitamins with regards to maintaining a healthy and strong immune system.
1. Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and health.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is extremely important for recycling the body’s strongest antioxidant glutathione, which in many ways has been labelled “The mother” of antioxidants.
Top 5 vitamin B2 foods
“Poor riboflavin status in Western countries seems to be of most concern for the elderly and adolescents, despite the diversity of riboflavin-rich foods available”
2. Inactivation of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in plasma products using a riboflavin-based and ultraviolet light-based photochemical treatment.
“Riboflavin and UV light effectively reduced the titer of MERS-CoV in human plasma products to below the limit of detection, suggesting that the treatment process may reduce the risk of transfusion transmission of MERS-CoV”
3. C/EBPε mediates nicotinamide-enhanced clearance of Staphylococcus aureus in mice.
Vitamin B-3 has been found to raise the formation of collagen and decrease dark spots on the skin. They are essential to the immune system and oxidation-reduction reactions in the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Below is a list of niacin-rich foods.
Top 5 Foods Rich In B-3. * Majority of meats are excellent sources
“Exposure to the epigenetic modulator nicotinamide (vitamin B3) increased expression of C/EBPε in WT myeloid cells (immune system). Further, nicotinamide increased the activity of C/EBPε and select downstream antimicrobial targets, particularly in neutrophils”
4. Nicotinamide exacerbates hypoxemia in ventilator-induced lung injury independent of neutrophil infiltration.
“Vitamin B3 treatment significantly inhibited neutrophil infiltration into the lungs with a strong anti‐inflammatory effect during ventilator‐induced lung injury. However, it also paradoxically led to the development of significant hypoxemia”
B6 is crucially involved at several points during the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fats and most importantly with the enzyme that draws carbohydrates (glycogen) out of storage from inside the cell requires B6 for its activity. It also plays important role in body immune function as well.
Top 5 B6 Foods:
Vitamin B12 is involved in energy metabolism, formation of red blood cells and the development and normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.
B12 is fairly unique and includes the following:
1. Unlike other B vitamins no plant or animal can make vitamin B12, except for microorganisms like fungi and bacteria, this is why only animal sources contain B12 since plants cannot manufacture or store it.
2. Mushrooms can often contain B12, but in extremely small amounts.
3. B vitamins are not stored well in the body normally, but vitamin B12 can be stored from anywhere between 3 to 5 years.
4. Most B vitamins are more easily absorbed than vitamin B12, which has more complicated requirements for absorption.
5. Vitamin B12 is also the only vitamin that contains a metal element (cobalt), hence why the chemical name cobalamin.
Top 5 B12 Foods:
Vitamin B12 alongside a whole array of other nutrients such as folate, choline as well as the other B-vitamins is crucial in keeping our DNA and genes healthy through a process called methylation.
DNA methylation (DNAm) is a process where tiny chemical markers called methyl groups will attach to one of the four nucleotide bases on your DNA (adenine [A], cytosine [C], guanine [G], or thymine [T]).
As we naturally age these methyl groups will either hypo (low) or hyper (high) methylate regions across your genome, which will then affect how specific genes and biological processes function.
There are a whole variety of genes such as TCN1, TCN2, FUT2 and MTHFR that will affect your ability to absorb and then metabolise B12 effectively.
For instance, TCN1 (Transcobalamin 1) encodes for a glycoprotein that protects B12 whilst it gets transported through the stomach.
So, knowing which variations you have is the first piece of the puzzle to understanding how well you absorb and convert Vitamin B12.
A B-complex supplement could prove useful and possibly a wise choice to add to your shopping list for a great boost to your immune system!