The Importance of B Vitamins for Heart Health

B vitamins are essential for total body health and also play a major role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.

B vitamins are essential in energy metabolism, cell regeneration (making new cells and differentiating their function), fetal development, and sustaining healthy tissue/organ function throughout one’s life. These powerhouse vitamins come in many different types, such as…

B6, Folate, and B12 are especially important for heart and blood health in maintaining proper red blood cell formation and size.[2]

B6 (pyridoxine)

B6 is an integral part of the heme complex, which is the iron portion of red blood cells that give RBCs their shape and function. Without B6, oxygen transportation throughout the body would be compromised which can lead to fatigue. Additionally, a B6 deficiency can cause microcytic anemia–the production of defective, small red blood cells–leading to unoxygenated cells, fatigue, and cardiovascular impairment. A good source of B6 can be found in meats, poultry, fish, and soy, which may help avoid folate deficiency.[3]

Folate

Folate is crucial for DNA synthesis, cellular differentiation, protein metabolism, and the creation and function of red blood cells and neurotransmitters. Folate deficiency may lead to macrocytic anemia, which is characterized by abnormally large blood cells that are unable to properly transport oxygen due to their abnormal structure. Macrocytic anemia can disrupt proper cardiac function and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney dysfunction, elevated blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythm.[4] To avoid folate deficiencies and protect heart health, eat a diet rich in folate and folic acid such as beef liver, spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus, and folic acid-enriched foods.[5]

B12 (cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that acts as a coenzyme for energy metabolism/ breakdown of major macronutrients (especially protein), and blood and nerve cell function. The high acidity of stomach acid creates the only suitable environment for B12 absorption; thus people with malabsorption/ chronic digestive diseases, antacid medications, or bariatric surgeries may impair the absorption of B12 and lead to deficiency.

Similar to folate, B12 deficiency may lead to pernicious anemia, a type of macrocytic anemia that impacts oxygen transport, blood efficiency, and cardiovascular health.[6] B12 foods are found primarily in animal-based products such as beef liver, clams, salmon, and tuna, as well as the vegan source of nutritional yeast. Strict vegetarians and vegans should consult their practitioners about B12 supplementation, due to the lack of B12 sources in a plant-based diet.[7]

Ensuring your intake of essential B vitamins is crucial to oxygen transport, which affects overall blood and heart health. If you are inspired to improve your heart health or nutrition, start your health journey with one of our registered dietitians. To learn how to fuel YOUR unique body and finally start feeling your best, email [email protected] to book your complimentary discovery call. 


Additional Reference:

Thompson, Janice, et al. “Nutrients Involved in Blood Health and Immunity.” The Science of Nutrition, 5th ed., Pearson Education, New York, New York, 2020, pp. 486–489.

Co-Created with MS Nutrition Candidate,  Jacqueline Gilpin

[1] B Vitamins | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

[2] Thompson, Janice, et al., 486-489

[3] Thompson, Janice, et al., 486-489

[4] Thompson, Janice, et al., 486-489

[5] Folate – Health Professional Fact Sheet

[6] Thompson, Janice, et al., 486-489

[7] Vitamin B12 – Health Professional Fact Sheet

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