Activated B vitamins vs non-activated B vitamins
For many years, The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) would only allow certain forms of B vitamins to be available in listed nutritional supplements. In 2016, this changed, and two other important forms of vitamin B, activated folate (methylfolate) and activated vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) were finally approved for inclusion in listed nutritional supplements in Australia. Methylfolate and methylcobalamin are very important activated B vitamins that can now sit happily among the other activated B vitamins; B2 (riboflavin sodium phosphate) and B6 (pyridoxal 5-phosphate or P5P).
Activated B vitamins are biologically active in the body and generally do not require any metabolic or enzymatic conversion before they can be used by the body, apart from P5P. P5P needs to go through a one-step process of re-adding a phosphate group before it becomes active compared to pyridoxine hydrochloride which requires a multi-step process before it can become active. Non-activated B vitamins on the other hand, require some form of metabolic or enzymatic conversion to take place before the B vitamin can be readily used by your body.
Activated B vitamins may be beneficial for those who:
- Consume a diet high in refined or processed foods
- Take certain medications known to deplete B vitamins
- Have malabsorption or digestive issues
- Need general B vitamins
- Have MTHFR polymorphisms
Activated B vitamins may be beneficial for those with methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) polymorphisms. The MTHFR gene is responsible for the production of the MTHFR enzyme which allows the correct metabolism of folate, and together with vitamin B12, functions as a methyl group donor in a wide variety of metabolic and nervous system processes.
Several polymorphisms, or gene variations, exist which can affect folate metabolism and significantly increase the risk of folate deficiency in affected individuals, even when meeting the recommended daily intakes. The most common mutation is the MTHFR C677T mutation:
1.Individuals who are heterozygote (one copy of the gene) for the MTHFR C677T mutation have a 40% reduction in activity of the MTHFR enzyme
2. Individuals who are homozygote (two copies of the gene) have about a 70% reduction in activity of the MTHFR enzyme
Lower levels of MTHFR enzyme reduces the production of methylfolate and is the most common risk factor for neural tube defects.
B vitamins as a group generally all help to maintain:
- Healthy energy levels
- A healthy stress response
- Healthy nervous system function
- Healthy mood
- A healthy cardiovascular system
While each individual B vitamin has its own distinct health benefits, they also work very well together when combined in a B vitamin complex formula.