B Vitamins: To B or Not to B

recovery-act/vitamins-for-hangover/vitaminB1By Romy Block M.D. and Arielle Levitan M.D.

To B or Not to B…

That is always the question. What supplements are worth taking, not worth taking and which ones are safe and will not cause you harm? Are there vitamins to take to feel better? When it comes to B vitamins, the answers can be broken down by each individual B vitamin. As it turns out, not all B vitamins are created or absorbed equally.

Going in numerical order, we will begin with B1. Also known as Thiamine, this essential vitamin is just that – essential. If you become deficient in Thiamine, you can become gravely ill. This can happen quickly since it is a water soluble vitamin that is not stored in our cells for long. People who are profoundly deficient in Thiamine get severe neurologic consequences, leading to brain damage (most commonly seen in late stage alcoholics). Severe thiamine deficiency is also seen in the malnourished in developing countries (then it is called beriberi) and can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms and skin diseases.

In the developed world we get Thiamine through many foods such as beef, milk and legumes. However, many of us do not consume much of the above and even if we do, we may not get quite enough. Therefore, optimal neurologic and GI health may be achieved with some extra Thiamine. Since alcohol consumption seems to deplete our stores of this vital substance, repleting it is essential if you enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail from time to time. (Looking for which vitamins to take for a hangover? Check out one of our Situational Supplements™ – The Recovery Act – for more on that. Anticipate your night out with an extra boost, and replenish yourself the morning after.) Thiamine may end up on your list of vitamins to feel better.

As mentioned, frequent alcohol use can deplete your B1 stores. For this and other reasons, women are advised not to drink more than an average of one drink per day. Some choose to spread this out over a week’s time, while others like to do it up with several drinks on a weekend. Regardless, keep stock of your habits. If you feel you have a problem with alcohol consumption please reach out to your healthcare professional.

If you just like to have a few drinks with friends here and there, cheers! You may be reducing your risk of heart disease and as long as you don’t exceed that seven-per-week maximum, studies show you are not increasing your risk of breast cancer. Just make sure to drink responsibly, which includes not only finding a designated driver, but also assuring that you supplement your habit appropriately. Personalized vitamins tailored to your needs may be in order. Looking for an all in one vitamin? Find Your Vous® by telling us more about your habits to get the just the custom vitamins for you. Take our vitamin survey to get a custom vitamin to meet your needs (take two tablets daily). And don’t forget about The Recovery Act when you need a little something extra. It helps to have these on hand when looking for a vitamin to feel better.

That’s the low down on Thiamine (B1). As for the the others in this family of vitamins, that will have to “B” continued . . .


Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health.  She is a mother of three teen agers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients.  After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take,  Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.

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