B vitamins are some of the most important essential vitamins our body needs to function properly. There are 8 vital B vitamins, known as the B complex, that are necessary for our body’s cellular processes. B vitamins are all water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water and need to be consistently replenished through diet or supplementation. The 8 B vitamins that make up the B complex are vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), biotin, folic acid, and vitamin B12 (cobalamins). These vitamins are found in a wide variety of food, making them more easily attainable.
Health Benefits of B Vitamins
All B vitamins play an important role in maintaining our overall bodily health. They are necessary for breaking down carbohydrates and distributing nutrients throughout the body. They play a direct role in maintaining energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. The B complex is essential for promoting:
- Red cell growth
- Cell health
- Brain function
- Muscle tone
- Heart health
- Nerve function
- Hormones and cholesterol production
B vitamins are tied to lower risk of stroke, maintaining healthy skin and hair, and strengthening the immune system. Each of the B vitamins have important and specific roles in maintaining health and wellbeing. Below are each of the B vitamins and their benefits:
Thiamine can be found in yeast, nuts, meats, and whole-grain cereals. It’s most important for metabolizing your food into energy. Insufficient amounts of thiamine can cause a condition known as beriberi, which is a disease that affects the heart, nervous system, and digestive system. People who suffer from malnourishment or are heavy alcohol drinkers are at risk for being thiamine deficient and should consider supplementing with B1 vitamins.
Vitamin B2 functions to keep your skin, blood cells, and the lining of your stomach healthy. B2 can be found in meats, green vegetables and dairy products. Sufficient amounts of riboflavin in your diet may help prevent migraine headaches and cataracts as well as increase energy levels, treat acne, boost the immune system, and prevent muscle cramps and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Niacin, like all B vitamins, is necessary for breaking food down and converting it to energy. It also plays a role in controlling cholesterol levels and preventing a disorder known as pellagra. Pellagra is a condition that affects you both mentally and physically. Symptoms of pellagra include diarrhea, dementia, and inflamed mucus membranes.
Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Pantothenic acid is needed for our bodies to produce hormones and for growth. It’s recommended that adults and children over 14 should get at least 5 mg of vitamin B5 each day to prevent deficiency. Pantothenic acid can be found in vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, avocado, whole grains, dairy, and organ meats.
Pyridoxine, or vitamin B6, is involved with more than 100 enzyme reactions in our bodies cells. It helps us metabolize amino acids and create red blood cells. Some research suggests that B6 may even help reduce the risk of heart disease. Deficiency in vitamin B6 is rare but symptoms of B6 deficiency include muscle weakness, difficulty concentrating, short term memory loss, depression, nervousness, and irritability.
Biotin is a crucial vitamin for skin, eyes, hair, liver, and nervous system health. It is also important for embryonic growth, making it a necessary vitamin for pregnant women. Biotin, also called vitamin H, can be found in egg yolk, nuts, legumes, bananas, mushrooms, and organ meats.
Folic Acid (B9)
Folic acid is one of the most important vitamins for the body’s growth and development. Teens, pregnant women and breast feeding mothers are the most at risk for becoming deficient in folic acid because of the taxing changes to their bodies. Pregnant women especially need to monitor their folate levels as folate is essential for fetal development. Folic acid prevents brain and spine birth defects and promotes healthy fetal growth. Natural sources of folic acid include leafy greens, nuts, beans, and peas.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most necessary vitamins for avoiding anemia, a condition in which you lack enough red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body’s tissues. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. At least 15 percent of people in the US are vitamin B12 deficient. B12 is essential for building red blood cells and maintains healthy nerve cells. Sources of B12 include fish, meat, dairy, beef liver, and clams.
Are You Getting Enough B Vitamins?
The best way to get your daily recommended B vitamins is through a healthy, well-balanced diet. However, you may be more at risk for B vitamin deficiency if you have certain health conditions. A B complex vitamin supplement can be useful for ensuring you meet your dietary needs. With one easy to swallow tablet you can meet all of your B vitamin needs and prevent any deficiencies. B vitamin supplements provide a convenient and safe way to keep your body functioning properly.
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