The Risks And Benefits Of Vitamin B Health Essay

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Over recent years several authors have suggested that the quantity of Vitamin D, B and Omega 3 are below actual needs. The problem on this debate is due to the largely mixed reviews, opinions and lack of research as in the case of Omega 3. There have been attempts at understanding the true benefits and risks along with the adequate amounts of Vitamin D, B and Omega 3 needed, yet, they remain highly subjective to ethnicity, age, latitude, and geographical location. This report will discuss the benefits and risks of Vitamin B, D and Omega 3 and the needs of patients that take them.


Literature searches on "Vitamin D, Vitamin B, and Omega 3" were performed through the databases: PubMed and Cochrane. The results of the searches were screened, evaluated and then categorized into risks and benefits of Vitamin B, D and omega 3.


Vitamlin D

Vitamin D is often known as the sunshine vitamin as it can be synthesized from cholesterol with adequate amounts of sunshine. Currently the amount of time required in sunlight to activate vitamin D is believed to be less than thirty minutes, although the Institute of Medicine USA issues no timely recommendations. "Determination of the exact UV-B dose and 25(OH)D assay but there was a positive effect on serum 25(OH)D concentrations. It was not possible to determine how 25(OH)D levels varied by ethnicity, sunscreen use or latitude." [1]

There are five forms of vitamin D as shown in table 1.

Vitamin D1

Ergocalciferol with Lumisterol

Vitamin D2


Vitamin D3


Vitamin D4


Vitamin D5


Table 1.

The human needs of vitamin D are prominent in D2 and D3, otherwise known as the calciferol group.

Benefits of Vitamin D

There is much evidence pointing to lack of vitamin D as a major risk factor for osteoporosis, colorectal and breast cancer as well as for cardiovascular disease and mortality. The most studied complications have been osteomalacia and rickets. But, it is debatable that circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of 100-150 nmol l(-1) are required for optimal health outcomes. [2]

The U.S food and Drug institute recommends a 400IU intake a day. Although a committee of the Institute of Medicine concluded that persons risk Vitamin D deficiency along with the diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. These disease are at serum 25(OH)D concentrations of less than 30 nmol/L (<12 ng/mL). The risk group extends to patients who receive levels ranging from 30-50 nmol/L (12-20 ng/mL). Nevertheless, basically all people are sufficient at levels ≥50 nmol/L (≥20 ng/mL)

Table 1.

The combined result of trials using vitamin D3 (700 - 800 IU daily) with calcium (500 - 1,200 mg) was consistent with a benefit on fractures although in a subgroup analysis the major improvements were primarily in older institutionalized women (fair evidence from two trials). [1]

Risks of Vitamin D

There are two major risks in relation to Vitamin D, over dosage and Deficiency.

Overdose - There is little evidence from existing trials that vitamin D above current reference intakes is harmful. A report form 2007 found that "in most trials reports of hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria were not associated with clinically relevant events. The Women's Health Initiative study did report a small increase in kidney stones in post-menopausal women aged 50 to 79 years whose daily vitamin D3 intake was 400 IU (the reference intake for 50 to 70 years, and below the reference intake for > 70 years) combined with 1000 mg calcium. The increase in renal stones corresponded to 5.7 events per 10,000 person-years of exposure. The women in this trial had higher calcium intakes than is seen in most post-menopausal women." [1]

Deficiency - As seen in table 1, common deficiencies of levels below 30 international units (IUs) can lead to Rickets in Children and Osteomalacia in adults. In this case, adding vitamin D rich foods to your diet will be beneficial. Foods such as salmon, tuna, milk, some cereals, eggs, beef liver and mushrooms provide plenty of vitamin D.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is composed of eight different strands that are known as the Vitamin B complex.

Vitamin B1


Vitamin B2


Vitamin B3


Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid

Vitamin B6


Vitamin B7


Vitamin B9

Folic Acid

Vitamin B12


B Vitamin Benefits

The B vitamins are responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose, which serves as the body's energy source. B vitamins are also responsible for break down of fats and proteins for the regulation of the nervous system as well as being essential for the skin, hair, and eyes.

Nevertheless, many nutrionists are skeptical of the excessive vitamin B claims commonly used in advertising campaigns such as in those of energy drinks. Nutritionists have pointed out for instance that while B vitamins do "help unlock the energy in foods," most Americans acquire the necessary amounts easily in their diets. [3] The typically amount of Vitamin B that is required daily is age dependent. For newborns, before the age of 6 months, 0.4 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin B per day is the norm. Nevertheless, for children between the ages of four to eight years old it is 1.2 (mcg) a day and then it teenagers and adults the amount of Omega 3 required per day has risen to 2.4 (mcg).

Vitamin B Risks

Despite the fact that the majority of western citizen gets enough Vitamin B intakes during their adulthood, these statistics are seen to differ in regards to the older people. In a cross sectional survey developed in Norway that analyzed 61 elderly (85 year old) patients blood samples, they found a lack of B6 and malnutrition was highly common in the majority of cases. This report showed old age, inactivity, low s-albumin and s-ALAT levels, and high s-homocysteine levels were associated with B6 deficiency. Poor nutritional status was associated with low B6 values, but B6 deficiency occurred also in subjects without malnutrition. These findings suggest that a need for Vitamin B complex may well be necessary for people in-between the age of 66 years to 99 years old. [4]

Other people at risk of vitamin B deficiency may include vegetarians. This is because B12 vitamins are not found in plant products, which can make it difficult for strict vegetarians to keep their vitamin B12 intake up. It is suspected and has been hypothesized that a lack of Vitamin B12 can lead to a skin rash although there is need for further evidence in this area along with the hypothesis that an excess of this vitamin can make certain side effects such as fevers, nausea and dizziness. That being said, vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin, and unlike fat-soluble liquids, it is broken down in the blood stream, filtered out by the kidneys and is released regularly in the urine. This makes Vitamin B and other water soluble vitamin much harder to overdose on than fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin K, A, D and E.

Omega 3 Benefits

Omega 3 fatty acids are polysaturated fatty acids that have caused much debate within the scientific world. This is because Omega 3 is vital for metabolism, they are necessary fatty acids for humans, but they can't be synthesized. There are two types of Omega 3, alpha-linelenic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Alpa-linelenic acid is based from vegetebles and plants such as sunflowers whereas docosahexaenoic acid is based from fish. It is suggested that humans require at least 500 to 1000 miligrams of Omega 3 per day.

A cohort study covering forty-eight randomized controlled trials and (36,913 participants) concluded that there is little to no evidence that people should stop taking omega 3 fatty acids but further high quality trials are needed to confirm any suggestions of beneficial effects of omega 3 fatty acid on cardiovascular health. Therefore, it is not clear that dietary or supplemental omega 3 fats alter total mortality, combined cardiovascular events or cancers in people with, or at high risk of, cardiovascular disease or in the general population. [5]

An interesting new area of research is suggesting tentative results towards Omega 3 and EPA supplementation being useful in depression and bipolar disorders. These findings say that omega 3 can affect peoples moods. In the article considering omega 3 and hippocampal neurogenesis in depression n-3 fatty acids, and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular, are argued to help prevent and treat depression by virtue of their effects on neurogenesis in the hippocampus. For people that have not found help within other means increasing DHA through natural diet may provide an interesting avenue into addressing the disease. [6]

Omega 3 Risks

The risks of Omega 3 consumption lie within exceeding the recommended 3 grams (3000 miligrams) per day. The U.S food and drug society recommends 500 to 1000 miligrams per day and patients with increased chances of bleeding are advised to lower their Omega 3 intake as fish oils diminish platelet cloting and making bleeding last longer. They also heighten fibrinolysis, which is the breaking down of the blood clot afterwards.


In conclusion, in this report the benefits and risks of Vitamin B, D and Omega 3 and the needs of patients that take them were outlined. We found evidence that vitamin D could be a risk factor for osteoporosis, colorectal and breast cancer as well as for cardiovascular disease but the best studies were in relation to vitamin D deficiency such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. The B vitamin is useful for the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose and helps with energy, despite this; nutritionists are skeptical about the over-advertisement of vitamin B as they say we usually get enough in our daily food. Finally, it is still not certain that omega 3 fats taken either through food or through supplementation alter total mortality, or cardiovascular episodes in cancer presenting patients, high risk cardiovascular patients or in the average population and therefore there is a need for further investigations into this area.