You will find B vitamins discussed almost ad nauseum on the TLO group. I believe this to be because B vitamins are so fundamentally important to cellular functioning in the human body, and oxalates interfere with cellular functioning in so many different ways. For whatever reason, B vitamins are something that nearly every low oxalate dieter needs to one extent or another during their healing process. The trick is determining which ones are needed at what point. At this point, this can be very difficult, and is often more of a trial-and-error process. Hopefully as awareness about oxalates spreads, we will be see greater funding for research about B vitamins and how they affect the oxalate metabolism and detoxification processes.
The B Vitamin Nearly Every Low Oxalate Dieter Needs
Vitamin B6 and/or P-5-P: Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. P-5-P (aka P5P or occasionally PLP) is Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate, the active form of B6. Dealing with oxalates can deplete your body of vitamin B6, which is essential for energy production, among many other functions. This is one of the reasons why so many come to the low oxalate diet complaining of fatigue, muscle aches and brain fog. Some find very rapid relief from these symptoms when they begin supplementing one or the other form of B6.
I remember when I first began this diet, I read somewhere that P5P is five times as potent as B6, so I stayed away from it for a long time. Big mistake! Turns out my body responds to P5P much better than B6. This is apparently a very individual response. So I can’t say which one to start with, but I can recommend trying both at some point, to see if you notice a better response to one or the other, or even a combination of the two (which is what I now take).
There are two caveats here; the first is for folks with IC (interstitial cystitis). While they often find relief with the low oxalate diet, B6 can sometimes aggravate their IC symptoms. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take B6 if you have IC; I’d simply offer my usual caution to approach it slowly, and see how it affects you personally. If B6 irritates your bladder, don’t give up on the B vitamins entirely. You may still find help from other Bs individually, or with a specially-formulated B complex without B6, like the one available from Desert Harvest. (I talk more about B complexes below.)
The other caveat is that B6 is known to cause peripheral neuropathy when taken in too great a dose and/or for too long a time. As always, moderation is key, as well as listening to your body. If you start having pain or tingling in your feet and hands, then make sure to back down (or stop) your B6 intake. Reportedly P-5-P does not cause this same problem, so you may be able to switch if B6 is giving you neuropathy pain.
Other B Vitamins
Thiamine (aka vitamin B1): Important for keeping meat from being metabolized towards oxalate; also helps in mitochondrion. Some find the benfotiamine or allithiamine forms to be more effective.
Riboflavin (aka vitamin B2): As with B6 and Thiamine, an alternate form (Riboflavin 5 Phosphate, or R5P) exists which is found to be more easily absorbed and/or processed by some. From what I can find online (here), it appears that Riboflavin helps because it assists in the metabolism of B6.
Biotin (aka Vitamin B7, Vitamin H and Coenzyme R): Some find Biotin to be helpful in alleviating dumping symptoms. I’m not entirely certain why this is true, but it certainly seems to help a great percentage of low oxalate dieters. It has also proven to be extremely effective at combatting yeast when taken in very high doses (e.g. 20 to 80mg per day – and no, that is not a typo; while biotin supplements are normally measured in micrograms, I did mean to type milligrams there). While I obviously can’t recommend that anyone else take high dose biotin, I can honestly testify that 60mg per day has all but rid me of yeasty stools…a wonderful event!
Pantothenic acid (aka Vitamin B5 or CoEnzyme A): This is considered important as it can help prevent the production of oxalates via the glycolate cycle in gut microbes (and possibly also humans).
B12: This is another B vitamin which both myself and others have found can induce dumping. I admit to currently being ignorant of how or why B12 causes dumping, but it definitely can! There is also much debate about which form of B12 is best; cyanocobalamin is the most common form, but for folks whose detox chemistry is already backed up, the cyanide in it may cause too great of a load. I currently take methylcobalamin (aka ‘methyl B12′), and it seems to agree with me at the moment. There is also an hydroxycobalamin form. One of my aims is to do deeper research into this topic to let you all know why B12 may cause and/or help with dumping, and also the instances in which each form is most ideal.
Feeling Brave? Try a B Complex
I say that with tongue-in-cheek, but also as something of a warning. Before coming to the LOD, I had always read that it was best to take the B vitamins as a complex, since they work together, and taking them separately was just a waste of money. I have since learned that a B complex can be a very powerful supplement on this diet. Personally, I’ve had to adjust my B complex dosage dozens of times, as well as completely stopping it, because of changes in how it affects me. When I really need it (presumably when I was very low on Bs), it makes me feel much better. At other times, it forces my body to continue dumping at levels well beyond what can be supported in good health. So my best advice would be to give it a try at some point, but start low and slow to make sure you don’t wind up causing some rather unpleasant effects.
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