B-Vitamins for Oxygen Transport, Energy and Performance!
You’ve heard it for as long as you can remember “take your vitamins”, “eat your fruits and vegetables” and, for most, it probably worked! What happens when the balance tips because you want the benefits of pre workout supplements and intense exercise!?
We’ve all heard of homeostasis and know that the human body is always fluctuating back and forth with concentrations of molecules, products, and by-products. So how do we keep track of it all and make sure that the supplements we take, to help our performance and recovery, don’t leave us deficient in nutrients that we also need to have optimal oxygen circulation and neurological function?
An extremely important group of vitamins is the B Vitamin group, especially when it comes to their interplay and effect on red blood cell generation, energy production, neurological health, and HDL cholesterol levels. Pre-workout supplements are amazing, and give us every edge that we need to perform, and we know how many positive benefits they have. It’s important, however, to know that with higher concentrations of stimulants comes possible deficiencies in vitamins B3, B6, B9 and B12 and that is why ALTRD STATE features 25 mg of Vitamin B3, 13 mg of Vitamin B6, 800 mcg of Vitamin B9 and 6 mcg of Vitamin B12. At the exact moment that ALTRD STATE heightens your alertness, power, and energy, it also balances your B Vitamin concentrations. Why is that so important? Well let’s take a look at those four B Vitamins in detail.
The B complex vitamins, of which there are 8, are water soluble, meaning that they are readily absorbed in the body and quickly move through tissue, including the blood-brain-barrier (BBB). Excess amounts are also quickly excreted, meaning that although toxicity is a concern, your body is very good at regulating these. They are organic compounds and are essential vitamins, which means they must be consumed. The richest foods to find Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and B6 (Pyridoxine) are liver, turkey, tuna, chicken, and beef. Vitamin B9 can be found in beef as well as in spinach, black eyed peas, and white rice. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) can be found mostly in clams and in liver, but also in trout and salmon. Although these foods seem commonplace, and are in most of our kitchens, studies find that a significant portion of the population is deficient in each B vitamin for one reason or another.1 In this article we’re going to focus on four of the B-Vitamins: B3, B6, B9 and B12 and why these four are pivotal components of the ALTRD STATE formula.
Vitamin B3 is a coenzyme, like the others, and is involved in many processes throughout the body but the main process that it supports is cellular metabolism. B3, as nicotinic acid, is a precursor to NAD and NADP molecules, which are key parts of cellular metabolism pathways and work by accepting and donating electrons to and from substrates in the Citric Acid Cycle.16 This cycle works to create ATP, the bodies energy molecule, and is directly involved in DNA repair, stress response and normal cell activity like transcription, cell division and genome maintenance.20 To put it plainly, ATP keeps cells functioning and Vitamin B3 is essential in maintaining those processes, without which cells will begin to degrade and age. The majority of NAD that exists in cells is derived from nicotinamide which means that stores of B3 are extremely influential in the energy that your body has to athletically perform.5
Vitamin B3 is a precursor to NAD in the Citric Acid Cycle!16
In general heart health, B3 is also able to increase the ratio of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) to LDL cholesterol.16 Deficiencies in B3 can lead to fatigue, poor circulation, inflammation and, in extreme cases, death. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Niacin (B3) is 16-18 mg/day, assuming none has been depleted.14 Vitamin B3 is only one part of the pathway and is supported by other vitamins in the B complex.
Known as Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 is also a coenzyme and is well known for its roles in production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA; ability to regulate homocysteine levels in the brain, which could cause damage to blood vessels and neurons if elevated; protection of myelin sheaths on nerves, which transmit impulses; and finally in production of heme, part of hemoglobin, in red blood cells for oxygen to eventually be transported throughout the body.7 Although it may not be inherently obvious, each of these processes are heavily involved in athletic performance but it’s actions in neurological maintenance are most important!3
GABA, Serotonin and Dopamine all need B6! 7,15
GABA, and serotonin, are inhibitory neurotransmitters that work primarily to relieve stress and anxiety, balance mood and reduce pain response, which can translate to better decision-making, recovery, and endurance on the field. GABA has also been shown to increase human growth hormone concentrations as well as increase exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy – two key functions in muscular development and growth.15 Dopamine, on the other hand, is the neurotransmitter that the brain releases when it is expecting rewards and positive outcomes. Research shows that optimal modulation of serotonin, GABA and dopamine are pivotal in training intensely, with a motivating mindset and recovering as efficiently as possible.4, 17 With Vitamin B6 being pivotal in the production of these three neurotransmitters, it is essential that you include it in your diet and supplementation if you put your body through intense training and need to recover well. The RDA for adults is 1.7 mg – 2.0 mg/day of B6.11
Folate, Vitamin B9, is pivotal in multiple process but most importantly in the creation of red blood cells and the breakdown of homocysteine, which is associated with heart disease when in high concentrations.18 Research shows that exercise increases acute levels of homocysteine and that this is dependent on folate (Vitamin B9) levels as well!8 Aside from this general health application, optimal folate levels are also associated with better energy production.
Oxygen transport is extremely important in energy production and performance, whether by the immediate use of it in the citric acid cycle (ATP creating pathway), during endurance activities, or in the replacement of ATP through the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) mechanism, induced by shorter term intense exercise.9 Studies show that lower levels of Folate can lead to Anemia, a low red blood cell count, and red blood cells are the vehicles by which oxygen gets transported to working muscles.6
B9 means more red blood cells and more energy! 9
So what does that mean for exercise and performance? Well, red blood cells have a high turnover rate in those that are partaking in stressful training and directly impact how efficient the body circulates oxygen. With a larger amount of red blood cells, energy is metabolized faster and performance output increases by relation! More B9 and B6, means more red blood cells, means more ATP, means more energy and better performance! The RDA to enjoy these benefits is 400 mcg to 600 mcg/day.13
The last B Vitamin we’ll touch on is B12, or Cobalamin. The main mechanisms of B12 that effect your performance are, as seen in B6 and B9, also red blood cell generation as well, but more importantly in myelination of nerve cells in the neurological system. Myelin is a protective layer that surrounds nerves and is made up of proteins and fatty components.18 Aside from being a protective mechanism, myelin sheaths are what transmit electrical impulses throughout the nervous system – imagine cylindrical waves of energy passing from end to end with messages attached. In performance, we want fast and functional signals! The efficiency of muscle contractions depends on the strength and speed of those impulses which frames the importance of Cobalamin in performance.4 By first being a vital cofactor in the production of methionine, B12 can facilitate the creation of myelin to be added to the sheaths.19 A deficiency in this means a less efficient and possibly damaged neurological system. B12 also assists B6 in producing neurotransmitters by creating the preceding Methionine – needed to make serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.3 The RDA of B12 is 2.4 mcg – 2.8 mcg/day depending on depletion.12 It is with the combination of all four of these that we see the most efficient systems being maintained.
Performing at your absolute greatest requires a perfectly organized system of specific and appropriate training; sufficient and timely diet and supplementation; as well as optimal rest and recovery. The coordinated system of reactions and adaptations that is the human body depends on your ability to eat healthy and maintain the right amounts of nutrients like B Vitamins. Supplements like ALTRD STATE allow you to push yourself to optimal training intensities and improve multiple processes, but it is the expertly infused combination of Vitamins B3, B6, B9 and B12 that work to ensure oxygen is efficiently distributed to working muscles for energy production, your neurological system is transferring signals properly and that each of these systems are moderated and protected. Don’t miss a single piece of the B-Vitamin puzzle and choose the right pre workout for your training.
- Ashley, J. M. (2016). Food Security in the Developing World | ScienceDirect. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780128015940/food-security-in-the-developing-world
- Casas, C. (2007, January 1). Vitamins. ScienceDirect. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/B9780444522603500450
- Calderón‐Ospina, C. A., & Nava‐Mesa, M. O. (2019). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 26(1), 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1111/cns.13207
- Cordeiro, L., Rabelo, P., Moraes, M., Teixeira-Coelho, F., Coimbra, C., Wanner, S., & Soares, D. (2017). Physical exercise-induced fatigue: the role of serotonergic and dopaminergic systems. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 50(12). https://doi.org/10.1590/1414-431×20176432
- Depeint, F., Bruce, W. R., Shangari, N., Mehta, R., & O’Brien, P. J. (2006). Mitochondrial function and toxicity: Role of the B vitamin family on mitochondrial energy metabolism. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 163(1–2), 94–112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbi.2006.04.014
- Harvard School Of Public Health. (2019, July 2). Folate (Folic Acid) – Vitamin B9. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/folic-acid/
- Kohlmeier, M. (2003). Vitamin B6. Nutrient Metabolism, 581–591. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/vitamin-b6
- König, D., Bissé, E., Deibert, P., Müller, H. M., Wieland, H., & Berg, A. (2003). Influence of Training Volume and Acute Physical Exercise on the Homocysteine Levels in Endurance-Trained Men: Interactions with Plasma Folate and Vitamin B12. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 47(3–4), 114–118. https://doi.org/10.1159/000070032
- Laforgia, J., Withers, R. T., & Gore, C. J. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(12), 1247–1264. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410600552064
- Mount Sinai. (2021). Vitamin B9 (Folic acid). Mount Sinai Health System. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid
- National Institute Of Health. (2021). Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B6. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/
- National Institute Of Health. (2021d). Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
- National Institute Of Health. (2021). Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/
- National Institute Of Health. (2021). Office of Dietary Supplements – Niacin. U.S. Department of Health Services. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/
- Sakashita, M., Nakamura, U., Horie, N., Yokoyama, Y., Kim, M., & Fujita, S. (2019). Oral Supplementation Using Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid and Whey Protein Improves Whole Body Fat-Free Mass in Men After Resistance Training. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 11(6), 428–434. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr3817
- Sauve, A. A. (2008, March 1). NAD+ and Vitamin B3: From Metabolism to Therapies. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. https://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/324/3/883.short
- Schepker, K. (2017, April 28). To Improve Athletic Performance, Put Brain Before Brawn. Holistic Primary Care. https://holisticprimarycare.net/topics/nutrition-a-lifestyle/when-designing-exercise-programs-look-to-neurotransmitter-levels-for-guidance/
- Web MD. (2016, December 23). What Is a Myelin Sheath? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/myelin-sheath-facts
- Wlassoff, V., PhD. (2014, July 30). Vitamin B12 Deficiency and its Neurological Consequences. Brain Blogger. https://brainblogger.com/2014/07/30/vitamin-b12-deficiency-and-its-neurological-consequences/
- Xu, P., & Sauve, A. A. (2010). Vitamin B3, the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotides and aging. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 131(4), 287–298. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2010.03.006