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Damon's dodgy health update: Vitamin B

Damon Rose Damon Rose | 12:44 UK time, Thursday, 9 September 2010

Interesting to see two stories on the BBC home page today involving vitamin B and its potential benefits for health.

Vitamin B 'puts off Alzheimer's'
Vitamin 'may help prevent' spina bifida

In the Alzheimer's story, high doses of "B vitamins folate, B6 and B12" were found to arrest mental decline in people experiencing what is termed as 'mild cognitive impairment'.

In the second story, we're reminded that folic acid supplements given to pregnant women can help avoid spina bifida. And whaddyaa know, the other name for folic acid is 'vitamin B9'.

It seems that if you combine the established folic acid (B9) with a naturally occurring vitamin called 'inositol', findings suggest that outcomes could be even more positive. (read the articles linked-to above for more detail).

Now, as everyone knows, I'm no medical expert. Yes I can commission articles from our Disability Bitch and produce Ouch's podcasts ... but, really and truly, you should avoid taking me seriously when it comes to medical observations; I am not the BBC health correspondent (yet). Here goes anyway:

My first thought was "Wow, good on ya vitamin B". My second thought was "perhaps I ought to get down the chemist and bag me some of those super vitamins". And maybe some Marmite because I have something in the back of my head that tells me yeast extracts have vitamin B12 in them. And a quick Google has confirmed another hunch that vit B is good for the mental health too. I think it may also be of monthly benefit to women but I'm gonna blank that one out due to generalised male fear if that's OK with you.

So, Sesame Street fans, what have we learnt today?

Well, it seems that vitamins can have names as well as letters. And vitamin B in particular is moving up on my list of favourite vitamins and could be knocking on vitamin C's door soon because I can deal with colds alone if pushed.

What more do you know about vitamin B? I'm a bit in the dark over B1 to B5 at the moment. And do you take vitamin supplements. If so, what for? tell me in the comments below.


  • Comment number 1.

    1. Marmite contains lots of vitamin B

    2. Marmite is made from the residue of brewing

    Why not just drink beer!

  • Comment number 2.

    So, Sesame Street fans, what have we learnt today?

    Well for those of us who have Spina Bifida, we've learnt that they're dressing up eugenics as "a good thing".

  • Comment number 3.

    I cannot forget the vitamin B injections in the past and boy do they hurt!


  • Comment number 4.

    Yep - B12 injections sting like hell - but if, like me you suffer from pernicious anemia, you have to put up with them! B12 cannot be absorbed by the gut so injections are the only way to administer the vitamin for those of us who are lacking it.

    I used to take loads brewers yeast tablets (full of B vits) but was told by my GP that excessive doses of some of these vitamins can lead to problems with nerve endings - since I alresdy have nerve damage I decided to stop taking them!!

    I think that too many people take vitamin and mineral supplements without thinking about how they work (reactions with other drugs ect) Just because something is 'natural' it doesnt follow that it is harmless.

    I realise that I'm lucky in that the GPs in my practice are interested & clued up about 'natural' remedies so they are able to advise and discuss both conventional and natural drugs.

    (for the record, I take calcium and Vit D, Lutien and a Cherry Supplement )

  • Comment number 5.

    I have often had marmite cravings over the years. I think your body tells you what you need. The banana cravings I get probably mean my phosphorous levels are a bit low.

    I did rush out and get vit B tabs yesterday but then read about the nerve endings bit and I already have nerve damage so am wondering if I should avoid taking the tabs now.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hey, don't put too much stock in that news story about Alzheimer's. Ben Goldacre, of "Bad Science" fame, has pointed out the following article, which shows how the experiment was flawed - loads of people dropped out of the study!:

    Again, there's no such thing as a magic pill!

  • Comment number 7.

    Well for those of us who have Spina Bifida, we've learnt that they're dressing up eugenics as "a good thing".

    Actually, those of "us" with Spina Bifida have learnt nothing of the kind.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's clear what the agenda is with regard to Spina Bifida.

  • Comment number 9.

    Among many other (often potentially lethal) substances parents of autistic children are pumping them full of B6. A common feature of autism is hypersensitivity, combine that with peripheral neuropathy - a common side effect of excess B6 - and I think we have found another way of torturing them to add to the growing list including chelation, restriction diets, etc.

  • Comment number 10.

    My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease three years back and it had gotten to a critical stage. A friend of mine then suggested me to try lexor health vitamin b12 sublingual supplements and it proved to be very beneficial. Vitamin B 12 really posses potential health benefits as it aids proper functioning of neurological system for regular brain function and helps regulate the formation of red blood cells.

  • Comment number 11.

    Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are manifest not because people are taking less vitamin B12 than recommended. Deficiency of vitamin B12 affects every cell in the body, but is most severely felt in the tissues where the cells normally divide rapidly, as in the blood-forming -tissues of the bone marrow and in the gastro-intestinal tract. The deficiency can also lead to neurological changes such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. It also include mood disorders, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, night terror etc.


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