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Friday, November 30, 2007

B vitamins in Sports Drinks - are some manipulated for appearance at the expense of health?

"Ever notice the "sports waters" don't tend to have b1 or b2 in them if they are clear? because they make the water look like the colour of urine, not a good marketing look so they will happily sell you water that is not balanced properly with b vitamins and encourages deficiency of the all important vitamins B1 and 2 which are often short in modern diets to start with."
Gary Moller comments:

During our long sunday mountain bike ride today my cycling mate, Ioasa, purchased a bottle of Mizone sports water with vitamins. Wayne; you are right - the B vitamins that detract from the pristine clear colour were missing!

The B vitamins are essential for many metabolic actions in the body. During times of growth and stress, including exercise, their need increases. The typical refined carbohydrate diet that one often sees in athletes, the elderly and young people is deficient in the B vitamins. B vitamin deficiency may be precipitated by courses of antibiotics that wipe out the bacterial flora of the digestive tract. These bacteria are important for the production and absorption of these vitamins and other nutrients.

I have come across several cases of beriberi, a 3rd world disease related to B1 deficiency, here in Wellington. The common thread of all of these cases is excessive antibiotic use associated with ill health, such as infection following joint replacement. Symptoms include burning, painful feet, numbness and loss of function, such as partial paralysis of the arms and hands. It can be exasperating to see these poor people undergoing numerous tests, such as nerve conduction tests and to be placed on powerful drugs like prednisone. Exasperating when the solution is as simple as a course of intestinal probiotics, cheap B vitamin supplements and good food. When the medical specialist is in charge, I feel bound to bite my tongue.

Athletes may benefit from additional B vitamins. I agree with Wayne that these should be provided in balance. If one is going to take supplementary B vitamins, I think it is wise to take them all unless there is a clear case for one or the other and not the lot. The only debate is what constitutes a balance. I certainly would not be taking drinks that have some of these vitamins excluded so as not to affect the clear colour of the drinks.

When exercising, pure clean water is best. Take your vitamins before and after along with good food. Give preference to vitamins that are naturally sourced and avoid the cheap synthetics that are of questionable value.

If any readers have contacts within the sports drink industry, please refer this article to them for comment. Their views would be appreciated. Is marketing expediency taking precedence over sensible nutrition?
B vitamins
This family of vitamins consists of thiamine (B), riboflavin (B), niacin (B), pantothenic acid (B), pyridoxine (B), biotin, folic acid (B), and cobalamin (B). They are interdependent and involved in converting glucose to energy.

The B vitamins are water soluble and are not stored in tissues to the same extent that the fat soluble vitamins are. Deficiency illnesses of B vitamins, such as pellagra (from lack of vitamin B3) or beriberi (from lack of vitamin B1), are not common, however, we typically do not get optimal levels of these important nutrients. Aside from proper cell metabolism, the B vitamins enhance immune function and function within the nervous system. They are also extremely important for healthy cardiovascular function. It has also been documented that adequate intake of these B vitamins can help with stress and altered mood.

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