B vitamins are extremely important to the human body and the lack of them in the body have some very drastic consequences. We'll discuss a few of them here. Well, let's get busy.The first B vitamin that we'll cover is VITAMIN B1 also known as Thiamin. Thiamin is essential for making the energy in food available to the body. It works with the other B vitamins in the many stages of metabolism to convert carbohydrates into a usable form of energy-glucose. More thiamin is needed if you are very active and use lots of calories, or if you have high percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates.

Since the brain and nervous system rely on glucose for energy, they are sensitive to a shortfall of this vitamin. Mild deficiencies result in the inability to concentrate, irritability, depression, and muscle weakness. Major deficiencies produce far more severe symptoms: edema, atrophy of leg muscles, peripheral nerve changes, paralysis and heart failure. FYI, the clinical condition of severe, prolonged deficiency is usually called Beriberi, and it led to the discovery of the vitamin.

Thiamin is one of several nutrients that is required to be added to flour and cereals in the process called "enrichment." Thiamin deficiency is seen in alcoholics, and for those who consume large quantities of unenriched white rice, white flour and baked goods made with unenriched flour.

Thiamin is water-soluble and some will leach into cooking water. If the cooking water is retained and used, there should be fairly complete retention. Sulfur dioxide, which is sometimes used to preserve vitamin C, also destroys thiamin. Absorption will be reduced by alcohol, barbiturates and large quantities of tea.

So, motivators, next time your feeling a little unfocused and irritable, you might wanna take a B-Complex.

The next B vitamin that we're going to cover is Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine. Vitamin B-6 plays important roles in the body, especially in the metabolism of protein; therefore, dietary needs are increased when the intake of protein is increased. Its coenzymes are part of the process that converts protein into energy, and that converts glycogen into glucose for muscle tissue. It is also required for building some amino acids and for converting others to hormones, including the synthesis of niacin from tryptophan. Pyrodoxine is necessary for the production of red blood cells and the functioning of nerve tissue. It may also be involved with the metabolism of polyunsaturated fats.

Deficiencies can result in diseases of the skin, tongue and mouth sores, anemia, insulin sensitivity, nausea, nervousness and convulsions. Deficiencies rarely occur alone however, and are most likely to be seen in people who are deficient in several B-complex vitamins.

There can be toxic effects from vitamin B6 taken in "gram" quantities over an extended period of time. This can occur when taking supplements that contain high doses of B6, or when prescribed by physicians over extended periods to treat PMS or mental disorders. Reported consequences can vary from permanent nerve damage, to reversal of the symptoms when the overdoses are eliminated.

The processing of foods drastically reduces the B6 content. Processed and refined foods may contain less than 50% of that found in the original food. From 50% to 70% is lost in processing luncheon meats; frozen vegetables show losses ranging from 37% to 56%; canned vegetables show losses of 57% to 77%. Fruits show an average of 15% loss in freezing and about 38% loss in canning. Little is lost in processing dairy products.

Heat also takes its toll, and B-6 content may be reduced by exposure to ultraviolet light. In 1951, for example, babies became irritable and convulsive when exclusively fed a particular formula that had been sterilized at a heat high enough to destroy most of its vitamin B-6 (B-6 is less sensitive to heat in some foods).

Remember to follow the dosage recommendations on the back of the bottle of B-complex vitamins.

Okay, that's the scoop on a couple of the B vitamins. The third and final part of "THE VITAMIN CONNECTION" will cover vitamins C, D, and E. Until next issue, stay pumped, stay motivated and OO-RAH!

Semper Fi!