Folate is a water soluble member of the B complex vitamins that is critical for maintaining optimal methylation. Folate is found naturally in foods such as fruits and dark leafy vegetables, but can be easily destroyed by cooking or processing. Additionally, enzyme defects, malabsorption and congenital deficiency of 5-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (5-MTHFR), an enzyme required for the conversion of folic acid to its bioactive form 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), can result in an impaired ability to activate folic acid. In individuals with a genetic defect of this enzyme, supplementation with 5-MTHF has been shown to be beneficial. 5-MTHF is required as a methyl group donor for the production of mood regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the synthesis of melatonin, as well as DNA production and repair.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
While naturally abundant in whole grains, thiamine is lost in many of the over-processed grains commonly consumed today. Thiamine is an essential co-factor in the production of ATP in the cells’ Kreb's cycle, and is also needed for the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Riboflavin is a precursor to flavin adenine dinucleodtide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN), both of which are central to energy production, intermediary metabolism, and act as powerful antioxidants. Riboflavin-depleted cells have been found to display signs of greater oxidative stress and disrupted energy generation.
Niacin is a cofactor in the mitochondrial respiratory chain, which produces cellular energy. In the body, niacin is transformed into NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), which both play a role in oxidation reduction reactions in cells.
Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body and is essential for gluconeogenesis, lipid metabolism, neurotransmitter formation, immune health and hormone modulation, and is essential in methylation, for the breakdown of homocysteine.
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B12, found only in organ meats, seafood and egg yolks, often becomes deficient in vegan and vegetarian diets. The vitamin is essential for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, the synthesis of proteins, and also plays a role in regulating mitochondrial enzymes and energy metabolism, as well as neurological health.
Synthesized by the bacteria in the gut and in certain foods, biotin and its cofactors are involved in metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and the utilization of B vitamins.
Pantothenic acid and its biologically active derivative, CoA, are essential to the synthesis of fatty acids, membrane phospholipids, amino acids, steroid hormones, and energy production.
Though not technically a B vitamin, choline is often associated with the B vitamin complex. It is important in the construction of cell membranes and plasma lipoproteins, plays a role in cell signaling and in the synthesis of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter), and is vital for brain development.