B vitamins play a large role in the body as nootropic substances. Their essential functions range from glucose energy metabolism to factors in the creation of acetylcholine and monoamine neurotransmitters.
Lacking b-vitamins or the absorption of them has been suggested to play a role in certain neurodegenerative diseases. The case and point is that b-vitamins are very important. The b-vitamin structure is also duplicated in several other nootropic drugs as well as in natural substances like choline.
This article will hopefully convince readers of the importance of each b-vitamin and if possible supplementation may be beneficial. Benefits may only be seen in those that are deficient in a certain vitamin as excess amounts are excreted through the body. Some b-vitamins can also be toxic in higher dosages.
Many people get most of the b-vitamins they need through diet but learning about each vitamin individually can be beneficial for understanding nootropics and the neurotransmitters involved.
Types of Nootropic B-Vitamins
Choline is a water soluble nutrient that can be obtained naturally through the diet. Technically, choline is not a b-vitamin but structurally related. Therefore, many types of b-vitamin “complexes” include choline.
The importance of choline cannot be overstated and its deficiency is very common. It is used in the creation and synthesis of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a nootropic neurotransmitter. Racetams like piracetam and aniracetam stimulate the acetylcholine receptors but without any available in the brain, racetams would be ineffective at producing nootropic benefits. Lack of acetylcholine in these cases may lead to negative side effects of these nootropic substances.
Choline deficiency is more common than you may think. Minor choline deficiency may go undetected. Certain groups of people like vegans, athletes, the elderly and post-menopausal women are more likely to experience choline deficiency. Choline is often recommended to be supplemented if your diet does not supply enough choline. Here is a list of some foods rich in choline.
some common cognitive related choline deficiency symptoms:
- memory problems due to low acetylcholine synthesis
- low energy levels
B1 – Thiamine
Thiamine is known as the essential nutrient vitamin b1. It has many important functions in the body. It is used in the biosynthesis of acetylcholine. Being deficient in b1 can cause side effects such as irritability, confusion and memory problems. Other more serious diseases such as Beriberi can occur if severe deficiency is present.
Most people in westernized countries are not deficient in thiamine. This is because most healthy people obtain enough B1 from certain cereals and grains as well as yeast, flax and pork. Excess supplementation of B1 is excreted from the body.
Sulbutiamine – B1 Derivative
The well-known nootropic, sulbutiamine is derived from thiamine. It is absorbed through the blood brain barrier much easier and unlike thiamine, is likely to have noticeable nootropic benefits. These include: increased energy levels, memory and learning benefits.
B5 – Pantothenic Acid
Vitamins b5 is not mentioned as frequently as some of the other b-vitamins however its role is still important in cognitive function. Like vitamin b1, pantothenic acid is usually obtained in adequate amounts from grains.
Vitamin b5 is used in the synthesis of Coenzyme A which in turn helps to form Acetyl-CoA. Acetyl-CoA when joined with choline catabolizes to form Acetylcholine. Without Acetyl-CoA, choline could not be synthesized into acetylcholine. For this reason, lacking in b5 can cause drastic cognitive decline.
B6 – Pyridoxine
Pyridoxine is a very important b-vitamin that has benefits for cognition as well as mood and mental well-being. Pyridoxine does not influence acetylcholine but instead influences the monoamine neurotransmitters: seretonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Each of the monoamine neurotransmitters has important biological roles in cognition. B6 acts as an essential intermediate in the synthesis of monoamines. It can help synthesize dopamine from L-DOPA and seretonin of 5HTP.
Having B6 deficiency is very rare. Most people do get enough B6 through diet however not having enough can lead to a large range of negative consequences on mood and cognition. B6 is also neurologically toxic in very high doses. For this reason, excess supplementation is ill-advised
Pyritnol is a nootropic supplement and analogue of B6. It is used in many countries as on OTC nootropic. It is not fully understood how pyritnol acts. It does not work to synthesize monoamine neurotransmitters like B6 but instead appears to have effects on acetylcholine release and reuptake. Higher levels of ATP and glucose in the brain have also been suggested as a nootropic benefit of pyritinol. It is generally accepted that pyritinol affects the actylcholine system as a main method of action. Pyritinol does not substitute for B6.
B12 – Cobalamin
B12 or cobalamin is another important nootropic vitamin in the body. It is largest and most complex of all the essential b-vitamins. It also has the most variety of biological roles. Due to the complexity of cobalamin, it is derived into different “vitamers” which are broken down from cobalamin. The vitamin b12 substitute cyancobalamin is a synthetic form of cobalamin that is often supplemented in place of cobalamin. Cyancobalamin can be broken down into similar vitamers as cobalmain and for this reason cyancobalamin is often referred to as b12 in supplements.
One of the main benefits of b12 is its perputated effects on brain atrophy (shrinkage) associated with Alzheimer’s. For this reason, b12 deficiency has been suggested to play a role in quicker cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s. It is unclear as to whether this is a cause or effect in the neurological disease because people with Alzheimer’s seem to have a low or inefficient absorption rate of b12. For this reason, b12 supplementation in these cases may not help greatly but still suggests it may have some highly neuroprotective effects in the brain.
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