Vitamin B: The Complex Family of 8

Vitamin B symbol
Vitamin B contains 8 crucial water-soluble vitamins that play a key role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. (Photo by Vitamina Verde)

Vitamin B is a group of 8 water-soluble vitamins in one formula. They include B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic acid) and B12 (Cobalamin). B12 is the only B vitamin that is not excreted in the urine. It accumulates in the liver over the years.

All these vitamins together play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system, controlling vital body functions and regulating metabolism. Each type of B-Vitamin has its specific benefits to the body and we’ve discussed the main ones below.

The Benefits of Vitamin B

Provides Energy

Vitamin B1, B2 and B5 metabolize food, converting it into fuel needed to keep you going. It breaks down proteins, fats and carbohydrates; it converts glucose into energy. Thus, it aids with healthy digestion of the ingested food.

Prevents Pellagra

Pellagra affects the nervous system. It is caused if the person is heavily deficient in Vitamin B3 or Niacin. It impairs physical and mental functions. Symptoms include diarrhea, dermatitis, mental disturbances such as disorientation and depression and in some cases death. Although rare, the onset can be prevented by getting the required amount of Vitamin B3.

Controls High Cholesterol

Vitamin B3 or Niacin improves cholesterol levels reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It keeps the levels of bad cholesterol in control by boosting the amount of good cholesterol.

Woman running in a happy mood
Vitamin B5 can help people who suffer from certain types of depression by producing mood enhancing hormones. (Photo by Yangui Yasiungu)

Stress Reduction

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) and B6 (Pyridoxine) produce hormones that regulate sex and the menstrual cycle. They also produce hormones such as serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin responsible for controlling stress and sleep patterns. Thus, these B-vitamins can help boost a person’s mood. They calm the body and can be effective remedies for certain types of depression. They also help for chronic sleep issues.

Fetal Development

It is important that pregnant and nursing women meet the requirement for folate or folic acid. It supports the growth of the fetus. A deficiency causes neurological birth defects and learning disabilities in children.

Thick Hair

Biotin is not called the hair growth vitamin for nothing. It reduces hair loss giving you thick, luscious hair.

RBC Formation and Anemia

Riboflavin, Folic acid and Cobalamin (B2, B9 and B12) are important in the formation of red blood cells. They carry oxygen throughout the body. A lack of red blood cells leads to anemia or affects the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen. B-complex vitamins also play a major role in cell regeneration and repair.

Besides the above mentioned benefits, Vitamin B is a good remedy for migraines. It resolves skin issues such as aging, acne and skin spots. Persons suffering from painful arthritic joints have also found relief by increasing intake of Vitamin B6 as it soothes the inflammation. B1 also prevents Beriberi, a condition that takes a toll on the digestive, nervous and cardiovascular system.

Family shopping for fruits

Natural Sources of Vitamin B

The good news is that most individuals meet their daily requirement of Vitamin B as it is present in abundance in most foods. However, if you notice you are deficient, here’s a list of foods you can eat.

  • B1: Beans, nuts, yeast, whole grains spinach, Brussels sprouts, wheat germ, tomatoes, peas.
  • B2: Beef liver, lamb, mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, milk
  • B3: Lean meat, organ meat, tuna fish, eggs, milk, yeast, nuts, legumes, nuts and green vegetables
  • B5: Broccoli, salmon, kale, potatoes, dairy, beef liver, meat, avocados, legumes, yogurt, mushrooms, duck
  • B6: Turkey, tuna, salmon, organ meat, carrots, sunflower seeds, non-citrus fruits, chicken
  • B7: Peanuts, yeast, cheese, liver, pork, egg yolks, barley, potatoes, cauliflower, nuts
  • B9: Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, asparagus, lettuce, avocado, tropical fruits.
  • B12: Shellfish, dairy products, eggs, meat (it is present only animal food sources) fortified cereals and soy products.

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