Choline and betaine – water soluble nutrients

Choline is a newer discovery in the nutrient world. It is considered to be a member of the water soluble B vitamins group which are nutrients involved in metabolism – the use of energy within the body. We can produce small amounts of choline so it isn’t considered a vitamin but as we can not produce enough for health it is considered an essential nutrient. (1) Betaine is a slightly different form of choline. Choline is found throughout the body but is particularly important within the brain and is needed for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Betaine is a metabolite of choline.

Choline, a water soluble nutrient. Foods Sources and symptoms of deficiency.

Choline is most typically found within phospholipids (such as phosphatidylcholine) which are important in membranes and as messenger chemicals within the brain and in the immune system. It may play a role in prenatal brain development but research on supplementation within pregnancy r to protect cognitive skills in the elderly is still in early stages. (1)

Choline is a  methyl donor (1) which means it can share a methyl group – essentially one carbon atom with three hydrogen atoms with an overall neutral charge.

An important role of methyl groups is in the release of energy from sugar within mitochondria. The methyl group is passed back and forth between nutrients and enzymes that are involved in breaking down a molecule of fat or sugar for use of the stored energy that is released when a double bond is broken. The methyl group is combined with an acetyl group when it is removed from the area on the chain of carbon molecules when a double bond is broken. An acetyl group is an atom of carbon combined with one atom of hydrogen and the group has a negative charge. The process for breaking down the glucose sugar molecule is called the Krebs cycle and most beginning level organic chemistry or nutrition students will remember having to memorize all of the steps involved. My summary may be inaccurate – college was a long time ago – the important point is that B vitamins and methyl donors are needed for mitochondria to be able to release energy from glucose/sugar molecules).

  • (The Krebs cycle is also known as the “citric acid cycle or the tricarboxylic acid (TCAcycle.” More info: Krebs cycle.)

Methyl groups are also important in controlling gene activity. They act like an on/off switch for genes. A gene that is fully methylated – all the available double bonds between carbon atoms are broken into single bonds with a methyl group added instead – is in the off position, the protein that the gene would encode is not being made. Genes that are unmethylated have double bonds and are in the on position, the pattern for assembling amino acids into a protein can be read by a matching strand of RNA and the protein can be formed (generally in the endoplasmic reticulum or Golgi apparatus areas of a cell).

Betaine and the more familiar B vitamins folate (B9 if anyone is counting), B6 and B12 are also methyl donors. Folate deficiency has been associated with less gene methylation (a histone is part of a gene). (2) More about methyl donors as a group is available here:  Methyl Donors and BPA.

  • The number system for naming B vitamins was derived at an earlier stage of research and some of the chemicals that were given numbers at the time were discovered to not be essential nutrients – meaning the body was able to form them within the normal health and didn’t essentially need to have them included in the diet (so that is why we don’t hear about a B4, B8, B10 or B11).

Excessive intake of choline above 7500 milligrams may cause a drop in blood pressure, sweating, vomiting and digestive upset, and change in body odor. The recommended Upper Limit is 3,500 mg/day. It would be difficult to reach that amount with food sources. (Safety information, lpi.oregonstate.edu)

Food Sources of Choline:

Good sources of choline include meats, fish & shellfish, eggs/egg yolks, cheese, milk, yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi and other cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, pomegranate seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, peanuts,  soybeans, beans, brown rice, whole grains.

Food Sources of Betaine:

Sweet potatoes, meats, cheese, beets, basil, spinach, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, whole grains.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

References:

  1. Choline, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/choline
  2. Benjamin A. Garcia, Zigmund Luka, Lioudmila V. Loukachevitch, Natarajan V. Bhanu, Conrad Wagner, Folate deficiency affects histone methylation,

    Medical Hypotheses, Volume 88, March 2016, Pages 63-67, ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987716000116

  3. Foods used in the 30% Calories from Carbohydrates Menu Plans, https://effectiveselfcare.info/2018/05/19/healthy-hair-is-the-proof-of-a-healing-diet/

Pantothenic Acid – vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is typically referred to by its chemical name Pantothenic Acid. Why some of the B Vitamins are called a name and some by the number may have to do with the variety of the forms commonly found in the body or in the food supply. Vitamin B6 has several important chemical forms as do vitamin D and vitamin E. Getting a variety of foods within the diet on a regular, daily, weekly or even monthly basis can help to provide some of the various forms. Vitamin E in a supplement might only provide one of the bioactive forms of the group of nutrients while eating nuts and seeds would be providing some of all of the group in addition to B vitamins and other minerals.

Pantothenic Acid – vitamin B5. Food Sources and Symptoms of Deficiency.

Pantothenic Acid is a water soluble B vitamin that is essential in metabolic pathways in all forms of life, plants, animals and microbes. It is a precursor chemical for coenzyme A which is involved in many reactions that help sustain life and is needed for other proteins that are needed for making fatty acids – fats of different lengths and types. It does have other active chemical forms but is not typically referred to by their names, pantothenol – may help with healing skin wounds, research is in early stages; and pantethine – may help lower cholesterol and lipid (fat) levels in the blood. (1)

Dietary deficiency of Pantothenic Acid is very rare as the vitamin is found in most animal and plant food products. There have been no known cases of overdose/toxicity so no Upper Limit for safety has been set. Deficiency is so rare it has only been documented in prisoners of war (POWs) and the symptoms relieved by supplementation of Pantothenic Acid were reported by the POWs to be “numbness and painful burning and tingling in their feet.” (1)

Pantothenic Acid is involved in converting the B vitamin folate into an active form so a deficiency in Pantothenic Acid might result in folate deficiency symptoms, (1) (megaloblastic anemia with fatigue and normal levels of iron but with fewer red blood cells that are immature, too large (macrocytic) and nonfunctional (2). Vitamin B12 deficiency can also be a cause with similar lab values but supplements or injections of that B vitamin wouldn’t help if deficiency of the active form of folate was the cause. Supplements of folic acid, the inactive form most commonly used in multi-vitamins or fortified foods, wouldn’t help either. Beans, peas and asparagus are good food sources of folate, more information about that B vitamin is available here: (Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available)

Genetic differences may affect some individual’s ability to phosphorylate (add atoms of the mineral Phosphorus) to the molecule of Pantothenic Acid for the transformation of the vitamin precursor into the bioactive coenzyme A. The enzyme is needed for transporting fatty acids (lipids/fats) into the mitochondria for use for energy production. Someone with a genetic difference might not be able to use fats for energy as well as someone with typical ability to phosphorylate the Pantothenic Acid molecules in the production of Coenzyme A. One known gene that could inhibit the production of Coenzyme A is Pantothenic acid kinase II (PANK2) . Symptoms of people with a double gene difference in PANK2 may include changes in movement control (dystonia), and impaired vision, intelligence, speech, and behavior, and personality disorders (15). (1)

Symptoms of deficiency of Coenzyme A might include gaining weight more easily than average and more readily getting tired when exercising for longer amounts of time. That is my interpretation though.

I have a different genetic difference that affects phosphorylation so I may also have trouble producing Coenzyme A. Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMTis a gene involved in protein metabolism that could cause reduced Dimethylglycine and methionine.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has been associated with a lack of Dimethylglycine (the amino acid – glycine). The metabolic pathways are very complex chemistry and it looks like this gene is more involved in the chemistry of the B vitamins choline and betaine. The phosphorylation problem is more specifically with phospholipids and  glycerophospholipids – both essential parts of membranes and cannabinoids. (Glycerophospholipid biosynthesis) (Phospholipid metabolism)

I will discuss betaine and choline in additional posts. An overview about phospholipids and food sources is available in the post Macro & micro-nutrients, an overview & food sources.

Symptoms of Pantothenic Acid deficiency in lab animals or other groups of animals found to have deficiency of vitamin B5 in their food supply included skin irritations, graying of fur or feather abnormalities, anemia due to reduced heme production,  nerve problems involving reduced myelin sheath, low blood glucose, rapid breathing and heart rate, and damaged adrenal glands. (1)

So it is good that Pantothenic Acid is readily available in many foods because clearly it is very important to our health. However supplements of Pantothenic Acid or rubbing it directly on the scalp or gray hair did not restore hair color in humans with gray hair. (1)

Food Sources for Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5):

Organ meats (liver and kidney), Meats, Fish and Shellfish, Salmon, Egg yolk, MIlk, Yogurt, Cheese, Avocado, Broccoli Sweet Potato, Carrot, Celery, Mushrooms, Pomegranate Seeds, Sesame Seeds/Tahini, Beans, Nuts, Seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Whole Grains, Brown Rice, Enriched Flour Products depending on the source – Canadian guidelines require it while the U.S guidelines do not.  (4, 5) “Processing and refining grains may result in a 35 to 75% loss. Freezing and canning of foods result in similar losses (16).” (1)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

References:

  1. Pantothenic Acid, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/pantothenic-acid
  2. Anemia of Folate Deficiency, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/hematology_and_blood_disorders/anemia_of_folate_deficiency_85,P00089
  3. Foods used in the 30% Calories from Carbohydrates Menu Plans, https://effectiveselfcare.info/2018/05/19/healthy-hair-is-the-proof-of-a-healing-diet/
  4. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Use of Dietary Reference Intakes in Nutrition Labeling. Dietary Reference Intakes: Guiding Principles for Nutrition Labeling and Fortification. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2003. 3, Overview of Food Fortification in the United States and Canada. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK208880/
  5. Guidance Document Repository (GDR), Prohibition against the sale of unenriched white flour and products containing unenriched flour. Canadian Food Fortification Guidelines; Grain and Bakery Products,  Canadian Food Inspection Agency, http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/food-labelling-for-industry/grain-and-bakery-products/unenriched-flour/eng/1415915977878/1415915979471

15. Kurian MA, Hayflick SJ. Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) and PLA2G6-associated neurodegeneration (PLAN): review of two major neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA) phenotypes. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;110:49-71.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24209433)

16. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Pantothenic acid. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998:357-373. National Academy Press,  (https://www.nap.edu/read/6015/chapter/12)

Riboflavin – Vitamin B2

Riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2):

Riboflavin, vitamin B2, food sources and possible symptoms of deficiency.

Deficiencies of other B vitamins can cause a deficiency of riboflavin and vice versa. Riboflavin is involved in the metabolism of vitamin B6, niacin, folic acid and iron.  Riboflavin is also needed for metabolism of drugs and toxins and is essential for releasing energy from food.

Alcoholics, anorexics, and people low in other B vitamins are at risk of deficiency but otherwise deficiency is rare.  Riboflavin is in many foods.

Deficiency symptoms may include decreased red blood cell count with normal sized red blood cells; sore throat; magenta/red inflamed tongue, mouth, and throat; sore cracks at the sides of the mouth; and skin rashes.  Deficiency may increase risk of pre-eclampsia and age related cataracts.  Supplemental riboflavin was found helpful for preventing migraines.

Food Sources of Riboflavin (B2) include:

Fortified flour & cereal, whole grains, meats, fish, milk, eggs, meat, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds, nutritional yeast flakes, asparagus, broccoli, yellow summer squash, spinach.

Risks of overdose for water soluble B vitamins and vitamin C are rare:

B vitamins and vitamin C are water soluble, so overdose is rare.  Deficiency is more common because the nutrients are not stored like the fat soluble nutrients:  A, D, E, and K; and water soluble vitamins are not conserved by the kidneys like the electrolyte minerals:  calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

Riboflavin is a bright yellow nutrient and when taking higher doses in supplements may cause a bright yellow colored urine – it is non-toxic and would be less noticeable, a paler shade of yellow, when plenty of water is also being drunk throughout the day. Any time dehydration is present the color of the urine will be a darker shade and is a good reminder to try to drink plenty of water – 6-10 glasses roughly depending on body size, and amount of exercise performed and the level of heat or humidity in the environment.

REFERENCE USED FOR FOOD SOURCES & SYMPTOMS OF Riboflavin DEFICIENCY:

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Other References:

  1. [dietandfitnesstoday.com/riboflavin-in-beans.php]
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/45194432?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=nutritional+yeast&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
  3. https://draxe.com/top-10-vitamin-b2-riboflavin-foods/
  4. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/definition-riboflavin-6444.html
  5. https://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/lindsey/types-of-squash-health-benefits