B vitamins were once thought of as a single vitamin called vitamin B. After much research, we found that there are actually 8 separate vitamins. Further research has also concluded that B vitamins are water soluble, which means that they are easily excreted out of the body and therefore must be constantly consumed in our diet. B vitamins have often been the subject of supplements over the years due to the essential role they play in the metabolic process. B vitamins are essential in functions such as increasing the rate of metabolism, maintaining healthy skin and muscle tone, improving immune and nervous system functions, and promoting growth and cell division. Each B vitamin has a specific function in the metabolic process.
Vitamin B1– Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. Thiamine is essential for proper brain function and carbohydrate metabolism. Thiamine deficiency can cause a condition called beriberi, a disease of the nerve and heart. Symptoms of this disease are weight loss, emotional instability, weakness, pain in arms and legs, impaired sensory perception, irregular heartbeat, and in severe conditions death can occur. Thiamine can be found in a variety of foods, at low concentrations. Yeast and pork have the highest concentration of thiamine, but you can also find it in foods like whole grain cereals, wheat flour, oats, flax, sunflower seeds, brown rice, kale, potatoes, oranges, liver and eggs.
Vitamin B2– Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. Riboflavin is needed for many cellular processes in the body, including the metabolism of energy, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and ketones. Riboflavin deficiencies can cause ariboflavinosis, which is protein-energy malnutrition. Symptoms can include cracks in the hips, sensitivity to the sun, and inflammation of the tongue. Riboflavin can be found in a variety of foods like milk, cheese, leafy green vegetables, liver, kidneys, legumes, yeast, mushrooms, and almonds.
Vitamin B3– Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. Niacin is an essential nutrient that plays a role in the metabolic process. Niacin is involved in both DNA repair and the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal gland. Niacin deficiencies as well as tryptophan deficiencies are called pellagra. Symptoms of pellagra include aggression, inflammation of the skin, insomnia, mental confusion, and diarrhea. Niacin can be found in a variety of foods such as salmon, avocados, broccoli, nuts, seeds, whole grains, carrots, and mushrooms, and animal products such as steak, chicken and pork.
Vitamin B5– Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. Pantothenic is an essential nutrient for sustaining life. It plays a key role in the metabolism and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Pantothenic deficiency can cause acne and in severe cases can cause paresthesia, numbness of the skin. Panthothenic acid can be found in many foods, but whole grain cereals, legumes, meat, eggs, and royal jelly contain the greatest amounts.
Vitamin B6– Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. Pyridoxine helps balance sodium and potassium as well as promote the production of red blood cells. Pyridoxine has also been linked to cardiovascular health by lowering levels of homocysteine, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Pyridoxine deficiencies can lead to anemia, high blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, and dermatitis. Pyridoxine can be found in various grains, green leafy vegetables, liver, eggs, and meat.
Vitamin B7– Vitamin B7 is also known as biotin. Biotin is a cofactor in fatty acid and leucine metabolism and plays a role in regulating the level of glucose in your blood. Deficiency in adults usually causes no symptoms; however, in infants it can cause growth disturbances and neurological disorders. Biotin can be found in a wide variety of foods such as liver, legumes, soybeans, milk, in small amounts, but larger concentrations can be found in royal jelly and brewer’s yeast.
Vitamin B9– Vitamin b9 is also known as folic acid. Folic acid is essential for many biological functions such as playing a key role in the metabolic process to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia from reducing homocysteine levels and cardiovascular disease. Some research has also shown that folic acid can slow down the effects of aging on the brain. Folic acid is especially important during pregnancy because a deficiency in pregnant women can lead to birth defects, which is why supplementation during pregnancy is often recommended. Folic acid can be found in high amounts in leafy vegetables, beans, peas, sunflower seeds, liver, and baker’s yeast.
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is sometimes called cobalamin. Vitamin B12 is a popular supplement in energy drinks because of its vital role in the normal functioning of the nervous system and the brain. Along with folic acid, vitamin B12 helps produce healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in the metabolism of the body’s cells, including their regulation and synthesis, as well as in the synthesis and energy production of fatty acids. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, the inability of DNA to synthesize into the production of red blood cells, memory loss, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other cognitive defects. Because vitamin B12 is only found in meat, eggs, milk, and other animal products, vegans should supplement their diets with vitamin B12 or purchase plant-based foods containing it. vitamin B12.
B vitamins are the second most important supplement you can take, in addition to a multivitamin for a healthy body. B vitamins are an essential building block for getting the most nutrients from your diet and helping your body stay energetic and healthy. It is very difficult to consume the optimal amounts of each B vitamin individually, so it is much easier and cheaper to take a vitamin B complex. Even if you do not know if you are consuming too much of a specific B vitamin, you cannot overdose because it is easily excreted out of the body. Moreover, with a complex you use the synergistic effect of all the B vitamins, which means better digestion and better absorption of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. B vitamins should be taken after a meal, but do not take them at the same meal that you take your multi-vitamin.