B vitamins were once thought of as a single vitamin called Vitamin B. After much research, we discovered there are actually 8 distinct 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 consistently consumed through our diet. B Vitamins have often been the talk of supplementation over the years because of the essential role it plays in the metabolic process. B Vitamins are essential in functions such as increasing the rate of metabolism, maintaining healthy skin and muscle tone, enhancing immune and nervous system functions and promoting cell growth and division. Each B Vitamin has a specific function within the metabolic process.
Vitamin B1 – Vitamin B1 is also known as Thiamine. Thiamine is essential in healthy brain function and as well as metabolism of carbohydrates. Thiamine deficiencies can cause a disease called Beriberi, which is a disease of the nerve and heart. Symptoms of this disease is weight loss, emotionally unstable, weakness, pain in the arms and legs, impaired sensory perception, irregular heartbeat and in sever conditions death can occur. Thiamine can be found in a variety of foods, in 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, oatmeal, flax, sunflower seeds, brown rice, kale, potatoes, oranges, liver and eggs.
Vitamin B2 – Vitamin B2 is also known as Riboflavin. Riboflavin is required for many cellular processes within the body including the metabolism of energy, fats, carbohydrates, proteins and ketone bodies. Riboflavin deficiencies can cause Ariboflavinosis, which is protein- energy malnutrition. Symptoms may include cracks in the hips, sensitivity to sunlight, 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 an role in metabolic process. Niacin is involved in both DNA repair, and the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal gland. Niacin deficiencies along with deficiencies in tryptophan 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 to sustain life. It plays a key role in the metabolism and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Deficiencies in Pantothenic 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 containing the highest amounts.
Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 is also known as Pyridoxine. Pyridoxine assists in the balancing of sodium and potassium as well as promoting red blood cell production. Pyridoxine has also been linked to cardiovascular health by decreasing the levels of Homocysteine , which has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Deficiencies in Pyridoxine may lead to anemia, high blood pressure, water 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 co-factor in the metabolism of fatty acids and leucine, and it plays a role in regulating the glucose levels in your blood. Deficiency in adults usually does not cause any symptoms; however, in infants it can cause impaired growth and neurological disorders. Biotin can be found in a large 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 metabolism process to producing healthy red blood cells and preventing Anemia to decreasing Homocysteine levels and cardiovascular disease. Some research has also shown evidence that Folic Acid can slow the effects of age on the brain. Folic Acid is especially important during pregnancies as 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 large quantities in leafy vegetables, beans, peas, sunflower seeds, liver and baker’s yeast.
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is sometimes referred to as Cobalamin. Vitamin B12 have been a popular supplement in energy drinks because its vital role in the normal functioning of the nervous system and the brain. Along with Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 helps to produce healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B12 also plays a part in the metabolism of the cells in the body, including their regulation and synthesis, as well as the synthesis and energy production of fatty acids. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can result in anemia, the inability of DNA to synthesize in red blood cell production, memory loss, increase chances of cardiovascular diseases and other cognitive defects. Because Vitamin B12 is only found in meat, eggs, milk and other animal products vegans must supplement their diet with Vitamin B12 or purchase plant based foods that have Vitamin B12 added to them.
B Vitamins are the 2nd most important supplement you can take, besides a multi-vitamin for a healthy body. B Vitamins are an essential part of getting the most nutrients out of your diet and helping your body stay energized and healthy. It is very difficult to consume the optimum amounts of each B Vitamin individually so it is much easier and cheaper to take a B Vitamin complex. Even if you are not sure if you’re getting too much of a specific B Vitamin, you cannot overdose because it is easily excreted out of the body. Also with a complex you are using the synergistic effect of all the B Vitamins, which means better digestion and absorption of fats, proteins and carbs. B Vitamins should be taken after a meal but do not take it at the same meal you take your multi-vitamin.
B Vitamins Play an Essential Role in Metabolism by David Tracy