A balanced diet of a variety of fruits and vegetables should provide all the vitamins that work together to maintain a healthy body. However, stress and exposure to toxins, such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and processed food, and ultraviolet rays, pollution and radiation can deplete the body’s supply of essential nutrients, especially the two water-soluble ones – vitamin B and C – which play a synergistic role in the overall balance required for a healthy body. You can, indeed, eat foods high in both vitamins together or take both in a supplement, as they work together to keep your body healthy.
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The B family of vitamins, known as B-complex, includes eight distinct vitamins: B1, or thiamin; B2, or riboflavin; B3, or niacin; B5, or pantathoenic acid; B-6, or pyridoxine; B-7, or biotin; B-9, or folic acid; and B12. B vitamins are water-soluble, which means that excesses are readily excreted from the body, although very high doses can have adverse effects. Vitamin B is necessary for cellular metabolism, promoting skin and muscle tone and helping the immune and nervous system.
Vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is also water soluble and has some similar functions as vitamin B for normal cellular growth and repair. Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen, the protein in skin, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons and maintain strong bones, gums and teeth. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which may help to prevent life-threatening diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, is 90 mg daily for adult males and 75 mg for adult females.
Vitamins B9 and B2 work together with vitamin C to assist in the creation, breakdown and metabolizing of protein to help form red blood cells and produce DNA, the building blocks of the body. Without vitamin C’s interaction, a deficiency of vitamin B9, or folate, can occur and possibly cause symptoms including menstrual problems and leg ulcers. Controversy exists regarding the increased excretion and destruction of vitamin B12 by excessive doses of vitamin C. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco conducted a study that addressed concerns of high levels of vitamin C leading to vitamin B12 deficiency, iron overload and kidney stones. Findings, published in the March 1999 issue of “Archives of Internal Medicine”, concluded that vitamin C levels were not associated with a decrease in vitamin B12 levels, prevalence of kidney stones or elevated iron levels.
Vitamin C assists in the metabolism of the B vitamin, folate. The vitamins work in conjunction to help thyroid hormone production. A function of vitamin C is to assist the immune system against bacterial, viral and fungal diseases; higher doses may decrease the production of histamine, thereby reducing allergy potential. A combination of very high doses of vitamin C and B12 with E has been found effective in lessening the symptoms of shingles when taken in combination at the earliest onset of the attack, as reported by the Acu-Cell website.
When your body is experiencing stress, it depletes stores of vitamins B and C rapidly. Multivitamins, especially stress formulas, contain B vitamins in combination with vitamin C to assist the body with stress-coping mechanisms. Vitamin B complex is important for anxiety and stress relief. These include vitamin B5, needed by the thymus gland; B12, necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system; niacin for the creation of serotonin that promotes a stable mood; and pantothenic acid for maintaining stress hormones. Vitamin C helps the adrenal glands react to stress by releasing corticoids, which are hormones that activate the "fight or flight" reaction. Researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville put laboratory rats under stress and found vitamin C reduced the levels of physical and emotional stress, including weight loss, enlargement of adrenal glands and size reduction of the thymus gland and the spleen.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Are B-complex Vitamins?
- OSU: Linus Pauling Institute; Micronutrient Center: Vitamin C
- National Institutes of Health: Folic Acid in Diet: Function
- “Archives of Internal Medicine:” Relation of Serum Ascorbic Acid to Serum Vitamin B12, Serum Ferritin, and Kidney Stones in US Adults; J.A. Simon et al.; 1999
- Cellular Nutrition: Vitamin C Supplementation: So Should One Supplement or Not?
- Migraine Headaches and Stress: Vitamin B Supplements – How B Complex Vitamins Help Beat Stress
- Science Daily: Scientists Say Vitamin C May Alleviate The Body's Response to Stress