Coenzymes are a non-protein compound that is bound to a protein molecule in the form of enzymes. They assist enzymes in their biological functions, such as speeding up a chemical process in metabolism. Vitamin B complex, which has eight different vitamin Bs, are soluble in water and perform many vital functions, such as food metabolism, immune system support, and maintaining healthy skin and muscles. Some coenzymes are derived from certain vitamin Bs.
Enzymes are large protein molecules that speed up chemical reactions without changing the properties of the final product. Coenzymes assist enzymes in doing their job by making the enzymes activated for work. For example, a coenzyme is attached to an enzyme molecule and has an opening to allow specialized molecules, called substrates, to attach to it. Without the substrate, the enzyme would not activate or function. Once a matching substrate attaches to the enzyme and coenzyme, the entire molecule can perform its specific tasks, such as breaking down carbohydrates and fatty acids for energy.
Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, and B12 all play roles in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin work together to produce energy in your cells for normal heart, nerve and muscle function and to maintain healthy skin. They are also precursors to several coenzymes. Biotin breaks down proteins and carbohydrates for energy and functions as a coenzyme to break down fatty acids. Vitamin B12 also plays roles in energy production via carbohydrate and fatty acid breakdown. Any vitamin B deficiency can cause a chain reaction of metabolic problem that slows or even stops your metabolism, causing fatigue, weakness, seizures and other neural and muscular disorders, according to Gordon Wardlaw, former nutrition professor at Ohio State University.
Vitamin Bs help prevent you from getting various diseases that are caused by certain vitamin B deficiencies. Vitamin B6 can lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke by lowering homocysteine levels in your blood which has been shown to increase such disease risks, according to the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University. Adequate thiamine intake helps prevent berberi, which is neuromuscular disease that causes weakness, fatigue, muscle atrophy and heart failure. Adequate niacin prevents pellagra, which is characterized by dry and cracked skin with large swellings, diarrhea and chronic fatigue. Vitamins B12 and folate prevents anemia by maintaining normal red blood cell production.
Cell Growth and Differentiation
Folate, or vitamin B9, is a vital component in DNA synthesis, cell division and differentiation, and DNA repair. Folate functions as a coenzyme for thymidine and purines, which are enzymes that involve DNA synthesis and repair. It also prevents certain changes in the DNA and cell that can cause cancer. Adequate folate intake for pregnant women prevents spina bifida in infants, which is the incomplete formation of the spinal cord. This causes fluids to accumulate in the opening of the vertebra which protrudes from the spine and stretches the skin.
- "Perspectives in Nutrition"; Gordon Wardlaw; 2001
- "American Cancer Society"; Vitamin B Complex
- Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin B6; February 2002