All multivitamins contain a smattering of B vitamins, so what else do you need to know? Actually, there’s a lot of new research, especially on folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. Here are six reasons why you should be taking these three vitamins—and at dosages higher than what you’re likely taking now.
1. Stay Mentally Sharp: We lose about two percent of our brain volume every decade as we get older. Although this is a normal part of aging, accelerated atrophy is linked with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. British researchers studied annual blood tests and MRI scans of older men and women and found that those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin B12 had a six-fold greater risk of excessive brain volume loss.
2. Prevent Cardiovascular Disease: An elevated level of homocysteine—a toxic amino acid that damages the arteries—is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Several clinical trials have demonstrated that supplemental folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, which lower homocysteine, reduce risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular events.
3. Keep Your Bones Strong: Everybody knows that calcium and vitamin D protect against osteoporosis and fractures. However, Harvard researchers recently discovered significant links between elevated levels of homocysteine and risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. How do you lower homocysteine? B-complex vitamins.
4. Preserve Your Vision: Another Harvard team found that these vitamins also protect the eyes. In a placebo-controlled trial, women who took daily folic acid, B6, and B12 supplements had a reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
5. Reduce Your Risk of Cancer: In a study involving more than 5,000 women who took folic acid, B6, and B12 daily for about seven years, those over age 65 had a 38 percent decrease in risk of breast cancer and a 25 percent reduction of other invasive cancers.
6. Boost Your Energy: Vitamin B12 is an excellent energy booster. We offer B12 and magnesium injections at the clinic, and they’re so energizing that some patients learn how to self-inject so they can continue them at home. High doses of oral B12 also improve energy, especially in people who have low levels to begin with.
How much should you take? Forget about the RDAs—they’re way too low. My recommended minimum daily doses for healthy people: folic acid 800 mcg, vitamin B12 150 mcg, and vitamin B6 75 mg.
Now it’s your turn: Are you taking enough B vitamins?
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