B vitamins aren’t glamourous…
With the exception of vitamin B12, you may not be familiar with what the other B vitamins do.
That can be a problem.
B vitamins are critical nutrients for your immune system.
And you may think you’re getting enough when you’re not. If you read ingredient labels, you often see B vitamins listed. The packaging may even say, “fortified with B vitamins.”
But these are not really vitamins at all. They are “chemical copies” that have no real nutritional value.
Today, I’ll show you how B vitamins help you beat infections and how to get the best sources. And I’ll share my own recommendaTions for dosing.
Your Body’s “First Responders”
When your body identifies a pathogen like a virus, B vitamins jump into action and stimulate your first immune response.
They start by boosting the production and activity of your “natural killer” cells.
Natural killer cells are your body’s own “hit squad.”
At the first sign of infection, these white blood cells flood your bloodstream. They seek out and target infected cells like a heAt-seeking missile.
And here’s a B vitamin you probably never give a second thought…
Thiamine, or vitamin B1 is a superhero at responding to respiratory diseases.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by your body’s response to infection. And it’s a primary risk factor behind COVID-19 deaths.
In a clinical trial, researchers found that treating patients with thiamine reduced sepsis-related mortality nearly 500%.
Thiamine deficiency is also associated with the development of high fever, and some researchers suggest serious infections may occur more often if you are thiamine deficient.
I always recommend my patients increase thiamine levels if they’re fighting any kind of viRal infection, like the flu… especially if they have a fever.
Boost Your Virus-Fighting Power
Of the top five vitamin deficiencies, three are B vitamins — B6, B12 and B9.1 To avoid deficiency, I recommend you get your B vitamins from food whenever possible, but also use a supplement. Here’s what I tell my patients…
1. Vitamin B6
All B vitamins are water soluble, meaning your body has no ability to store them. To avoid deficiency, you need to consume it on a regular basis. The best sources are grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and turkey, pastured pork, wild-caught halibut and salmon, organic bananas, red pepper, prunes and avocado. Pistachios and sunflower seeds are also high in B6.
But it’s not easy to get what you need from today’s vitamin-depleted food sources. I recommend adding a supplement. I sugGest consuming at least 25 mg of B6 a day.
2. Vitamin B12
You can only get B12 from animal sources. Grass-fed liver, wild-caught salmon, tuna and trout, clams and grass-fed beef are all my go-to food sources.
Most nutritionists say you only need 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of B12 per day. That’s way too low. I recommend at least 100 mcg per day. But during this virus outbreak, I advise my patients to take as much as 2,000 mcg per day.
You can take B12 in a capsule, lozenge or spray. I prefer a spray because the capillaries and small blood vessels in your mouth quickly absorb the mist. They deliver B12 directly to your circulatory systEm, tissues and cells.
B12 injections are important if your body has a hard time absorbing the vitamin. This is common in older adults and those suffering with intestinal disorders.
3. Vitamin B9
Boosting your levels of vitamin B9 fights the inflammation triggered by high levels of the amino acid homocysteine. The best sources are grass-fed calf’s liver and beef, dairy, pastured poultry, eggs, seafood, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.
Look for vitamin B9 in the form of folate and not folic acid. Folate is what occurs naturally, while folic acid is a “chemical copy,” — an oxidized monoglutamate form of the vitamin that is used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Your body only absorbs half the folaTe you get from food. So I recommend supplementing with 800 mcg a day.
Don’t sleep on this potent infection fighter. The best food sources of B1 are organ meats, peas, pork, beans and sunflower seeds. While 100 mg will prevent deficiency, I suggest supplementing with 200 mg daily if you’re fighting an infection.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
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Sources and References
1. Ulbricht C. “The Top Five Nutritional Deficiencies in the United States.” Altern Complement Ther. June 2013:19(3).191309.