Why Vitamin B is My Co-pilot

B vitamins play a major role in producing energy in the cells, but they certainly aren’t top gun. They are converted in the body to act as coenzymes.

As coenzymes they have almost no independent catalytic power because they must rely on being temporarily bound as organic prosthetic groups to an apoenzyme, then called a holoenzyme (1p643).

In a very complex reaction of three enzymes and five coenzymes, four B vitamin-derivative coenzymes act in synergy with yet another coenzyme (lipoamide) to produce pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (1p750).

Thus, any deficiency of the four B vitamins—thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid—could severely impact cellular respiration.(1p750)

You could think of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex as a fighter jet equipped with B vitamin wingmen. The pilot is its substrate pyruvate, which later develops into that maverick of a central charcter in the citric acid cycle, acetyl CoA (1p751).

Reference

1. Denniston KJ, Topping JJ, Caret RL. General, Organic, And Biochemistry, 5th ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 2007.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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