Vitamin B affects energy levels and cognitive function, but the proportion of Australians with inadequate intake is surprisingly high, says expert Professor Andrew Scholey
B vitamins are typically synthesised by plants, where they perform largely the same cellular functions as they do following consumption by humans.
Good dietary sources include leafy green vegetables, whole grain cereals, liver, meat, dairy produce and eggs, explains Professor Andrew Scholey, director of the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology and Professor of Behavioural and Brain Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology.
The exception is vitamin B12, which is synthesised by bacteria and is therefore available only from animal-derived foods.
There are established clinical signs of vitamin B deficiency. In addition, a low vitamin B status is associated with various adverse health outcomes
For example, mounting evidence from observational studies has linked low folate status and other B vitamins to increased risk of systemic and degenerative diseases, says Professor Foley.
This includes cardiovascular disease, cognitive dysfunction and osteoporosis in the elderly.
If an adequate supply of B vitamins is essential to maintain health, how much is adequate and how many of us are achieving that?
Supplementation may be of benefit in a range of individuals in both healthy and high-risk populations, says Professor Scholey.
The image above shows increased activation of a working memory network following administration of a broad-spectrum B vitamin and mineral (MVM) preparation compared with placebo (MVM > placebo).
The warmer colour indicates greater difference over placebo.
Sections A and B show increased activation measured using functional MRI (fMRI) during a rapid visual information processing task. Significantly increased activation is shown at 30 min (A) and 28 days (B) following supplementation.
How much do you really know about B vitamins and their impact on cognitive function?