Port Kennedy Central Shopping Centre

Shop 8B/397 Warnbro Sound Avenue, 

Port Kennedy WA 6172

Port Kennedy Pharmacy

In this second of our series on the B group vitamins, we are looking at B3, 5 and 6. All three vitamins play key roles in helping the body release energy from food.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) also helps the body break down of the heart-unfriendly “blood fat” triglyceride (hence its use in some patients to control cholesterol levels in the form of Nicotinic Acid). It is the only heat-stable B-vitamin so little is lost through cooking. Hence, due to its presence in all protein-containing food including eggs, meats and chicken as well as nuts, mushroom and wholegrain bread, deficiency is very rare in developed countries. The most common cause is chronic alcoholism and/or very poor nutrition. Symptoms are very vague and easily missed. The main signs are the 3 D’s (dementia, dermatitis and diarrhoea). The patient may also have a swollen tongue, sores in the mouth and appear confused and irritable. Correct diagnosis is crucial as excessive intake can damage the liver and cause unpleasant effects such as facial flushing and itching.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) is part of the team that make red blood cells and some of our hormones. We only need about 5 mg per day and as it is found in a wide variety of food sources, deficiency is also very rare and where it happens, is usually part of a wider malnutrition issue.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is a more active player in our body than B3 and B5. Apart from energy production, it also helps make red blood cells, certain neurotransmitters and some immune cells. Signs of deficiency may include anaemia, swollen tongue, cracked corners of the mouth, irritability, muscle twitching, poor immune function and dermatitis.  Deficiency is more common than B3 and 5, since aside from a poor nutrition, it can also be affected by medications and some medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and coeliac disease.

B6 supplements have been investigated for a number of conditions including morning sickness, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), cognitive and cardiovascular health (through its influence on homocysteine levels) with limited evidence only for the first two conditions.  

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods including cereal grains, green and leafy vegetables, fish, meat and poultry, nuts and fruit so it would be ideal (and more fun) to meet our requirements through diet. But if you think you may be lacking in B6, do speak to a health professional before taking supplements, as too much B6 (through supplements) is harmful, causing numbness, loss of coordination and eventually irreversible nerve damage.

“Joke “of the day

Patient to psychiatrist: What condition do I have if I am scared of Vitamin B 3, 5 and 6?

Psychiatrist: A Vitamin B-complex !

And the winning numbers are ...... B 3, 5 and 6

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Port Kennedy Central Shopping Centre,

Shop 8B/397 Warnbro Sound Avenue, Port Kennedy WA 6172

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