B-Complex Vitamins and Vision (Visual Acuity)
I have been taking B-complex vitamin supplements for over 10 years. My primary objective has been to reduce the frequency and duration of colds. I have finally been successful. As a result, I’ve been experimenting with dramatic reductions in vitamin doses. Recently, I nearly quit taking B-complex vitamin supplements altogether. As expected based on the vitamin literature, nothing bad happened. Then, about two months after I quit, I noticed that I was having a harder and harder time getting by at work without my glasses. Ten years ago, just before I started taking B-complex vitamins, I had started to wear my glasses at work. Shortly after I started B-complex vitamins my vision improved and I stopped wearing glasses. I subsequently reviewed the scientific literature on B-complex vitamins. During the course of reading hundreds of papers, I read only one or two reports by researchers stating that subjects/patients had reported improved visual acuity upon taking B-complex vitamins. As time passed, I convinced myself that I was probably mistaken.
So here I was again experiencing rapidly deteriorating vision. I was alarmed enough to schedule an eye exam, and to try to analyze why this might be happening to me. What was I doing different? It took several days before the idea struck me that I had quit B-complex vitamins. My view was that if B-complex supplements were the problem, my vision should restore itself rapidly upon re-supplementation. I took the time to test my vision by backing away from my computer monitor to find the distance at which the large print on a PowerPoint file became blurred. The next day I took a B-complex supplement, waited about 2 hours, and then retested my vision. My vision was not so different, yet obviously improved. I saw clearly from the same distance using less concentration. My eyes were seeing about the same, but feeling less strained. I noticed later in the day that I wasn’t getting a headache from watching a screen across the conference room. This may not seem like much, but for me it is the difference between needing and not needing glasses.
A large region of the brain is devoted to the highly complex task of image processing. The brain is known to employ parallel processing strategies. Multiple metabolic pathways are involved, a number of which are dependent upon B-complex vitamins. The assertion that the brain could make use of elevated doses of B-complex vitamins to improve visual acuity is plausible.
My improved vision is a small thing, and by itself not a reason to advocate for B-complex vitamin supplements. This observation motivates me to keep taking B-complex supplements because I believe that aging is caused by a multitude of small things, many of them imperceptible. For example I can’t feel the elasticity of my arteries, my liver regulating my blood sugar, or my bone marrow renewing my red blood cells. If B-complex vitamins can improve the performance of my image processing circuitry, perhaps they are improving other aspects of the functioning of my brain, that, when added together may result in a meaningful improvement in my quality of life as I get older.
What motivates me the most is the belief that if B-complex vitamin supplements are required to optimize the performance of my visual processing, then they are required to optimize the task of the growth and development of a child’s brain. I believe that a series of minor improvements in brain functioning during a child’s many years of brain growth and development can lead to substantial improvements in health and intelligence by the time adulthood is reached. I believe every parent should assess the evidence and consider regular use of multivitamins, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin C.