What is Vitamin B Complex?
Many people just assume there is only Vitamin B, but actually it is broken down into several types of the vitamin…8 to be exact. Some of which are very well known. In general, the main purpose of them is to convert food into energy, so if you feel run down and out of energy, you may want to look into the B vitamins. However, there are other benefits for each. So without going into too much detail, here are those 8 types of the Vitamin B Complex:
- B1 – Thiamine. Research tends to indicate that B1 may strengthen the immune system. It also appears to help the body handle stressful conditions. There is no toxicity level of B1.
- B2 – Riboflavin. Not only does this vitamin help in the creation of energy, but it also acts as a powerful anti-oxidant. It also assists in converting B6 into a usable form, and helps with the production of healthy red blood cells. Some research indicates 400mg/day can cut migraine occurrences in half. It can be found in several foods such as almonds, yogurt, broccoli, and spinach. However, boiling foods can result in the loss of some of the vitamin. Again, there is no toxicity level.
- B3 – Niacin. This one you may have heard of because it is often prescribed to individuals with high cholesterol levels. Not only does it help reduce cholesterol levels, but it also improves circulation. You can find it in such foods as liver, certain fish, and sunflower seeds. There can be side effects with high dosages, so it’s best to check with your physician.
- B5 – Pantothenic Acid. There is a long list of uses for B5, though more scientific research needs to be conducted. The list includes: acne, asthma, ADHD, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, enhanced immune system functionality, and chronic fatigue. Just to name a few. It can also be used on the skin to provide relief from itches, bug bites, mild eczema, and diaper rash. There are no toxicity levels.
- B6 – Pyridoxine. Another one you may have heard of. The main purpose here is to make neurotransmitters, but it also assists with healthy brain functionality. And, it helps with creating certain hormones such as melatonin which helps regulate sleep. It also works with B9 and B12 to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. If you are not familiar with homocysteine, I’ll be doing a post in the future on this. But for now, think of it as spurs which nick up the artery walls, allowing cholesterol to stick to the walls and create blockage. It is also needed to help with B12 absorption, and some studies have shown positive effects with arthritis and inflammation. Chicken, turkey, liver, milk, and spinach are just some of the food sources. There may be side effects at high dosages, so again, check with your doctor.
- B7 – Biotin. Used for strengthening hair and nails, but it’s use is not limited to this. Some studies have shown benefits in eczema patients, and it is also extremely important with respect to fetal growth. You can find it in egg yolks, sardines, nuts, and bananas. No toxicity levels exist.
- B9 – Folic Acid. Yet another you have probably heard of. Especially if you are expecting. It plays an important part in brain function and development, and helps with the production of DNA. Especially when cells and tissues are just developing, thus the reason it is so important when pregnant. However, it also helps to control homocysteine levels and may help protect against certain types of cancers. 1mg/day seems to be the upper limit, so check with your doctor.
- B12 – Cobalamin. If you want healthy nerve cells, then this is the vitamin for you. It also assists in the production of DNA and red blood cells. A deficiency may cause fatigue in individuals. Meat and dairy products contain B12, so vegans are at risk of becoming deficient. There are no toxicity levels.
What does vitamin B Complex do for the body?
A healthy nervous system doesn’t come about without a good supply of vitamin B complex. This vitamin plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and also assists in the balance of blood glucose levels.
For those people who are experiencing stressful times or bouts of anxiety, the body will need increased amounts of vitamin B complex to cope. If the body does not get sufficient amounts of B vitamins fatigue, depression and sleep disturbances are often the result.
In fact, a deficiency in B2 can lead to dermatitis, hair loss, cracked lips and longer wound healing time. The B6 vitamin is needed for hormonal balance and is often important for women to take as a supplement when experiencing PMS and menopausal symptoms. B6, along with folic acid and B12 is often used to treat increased homocysteine levels, a serious condition that can lead to inflammation and cardiovascular problems.
If your diet consists of a lot of tea, coffee or alcohol, this could also cause a deficiency in vitamin B complex. It’s important to moderate the consumption of these beverages to ensure your body is not overloaded with caffeine – while you may be drinking these particular drinks to get some energy, it will only make your body more exhausted after the caffeine has run its course.
All in all, if you are feeling lethargic, drinking lots of caffeine loaded beverages or simply under a bit of stress, a deficiency in the vitamin B complex can be problem. By simply loading up your diet with vitamin B complex rich foods or taking a supplement should your diet not permit, you’ll be on your way to having a spring in your step in no time.
Sources of Vitamin B Complex
A well balanced diet should provide us with all the B vitamins we require, but because they are water soluble and therefore not retained by the body, we need a daily dietary source.
Vitamins B1 and B2 found in cereals, whole grains, potatoes, seafood, liver, and kidney beans.
Vitamin B3 is found in liver, fish, chicken, nuts, whole grains, and dried beans. Vitamin B5 is found in almost all foods. Fish, chicken, potatoes, wheat germ, bananas, and dried beans are good sources of vitamin B6. Vitamin B7 is present in peanuts, liver, egg yolk, bananas, watermelon, and grapefruit. Green leafy vegetables, liver, citrus fruits, nuts, peas, dried beans, and wheat bread contain vitamin B9. Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, meat, poultry, milk, and dairy products.
What are the Side Effects and How Much Should I Take?
Consuming more than 400 mg/day of vitamin B 6, which is 200 times the RDA, can cause difficulty in walking, some neurological disorders and numbness in the mouth and hands. An overdose of vitamin B 3 , also known as niacin may result in the following symptoms: faintness, pounding in the head, diarrhea, jaundice and impairment of liver function, low levels of glucose tolerance, other skin lesions and abdominal cramps. Most of the effects are reduced on withdrawal of the vitamin. The recommended daily allowance is 1.4 mg for Vitamin B1, 1.6 mg for Vitamin B2, 2 mg for Vitamin B6 and 1 ug for vitamin B 12. If you want to get your intake from food sources then plants are not a good source of Vitamin B. Most of it is obtained from animal protein.
Symptoms of Vitamin B Complex deficiency
Vitamin B complex deficiency shows symptoms such as:
- Mental problems
- Heart palpitations
- Chronic fatigue
- Inability to concentrate
- Tingling fingers and toes
Vitamin B deficiency:
The Vitamin B requirement of different individuals varies according to the intensity of activity and loss of nutrients in sweat and through urine, especially after strenuous exercise. Many people involved in high-level sports or physical activity are unaware of the impact of vitamin B complex in their diet – a poor diet lacking in important micro nutrients may have severe detrimental effects on a person’s health and professional potential.
Several deficiency diseases may result from the lack of B-vitamins. These include:
- Vitamin B1 deficiency causes beriberi, weight loss, emotional disturbances, swelling of bodily tissues, amnesia.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) deficiency causes cracks in the lips, high sensitivity to sunlight, inflammation of the tongue, syphilis.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) deficiency causes pellagra, mental confusion and even death.
- Vitamin B6 deficiency may lead to anaemia, dermatitis, high blood pressure.
- Vitamin B7 deficiency may lead to impaired growth and neurological disorders in infants.
- Folic acid deficiency in pregnant women can lead to birth defects.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency causes pernicious anaemia, memory loss and other cognitive diseases.
Benefits of Vitamin B Complex:
Each member of the B-complex has a unique structure and performs unique functions in the human body. These vitamins are vital for:
- Lustrous hair
- B6 is essential for amino acid metabolism
- B12 and folic acid facilitate cell division
- Good vision
- Folic acid, pyridoxine, and cobalamin work together to keep homocysteine levels low, as high homocysteine levels lead to heart disease.
- Prevent certain birth defects such as cleft palate and neural tube defects, maintain healthy red blood cells, and may have a role in preventing certain types of cancer.
- Avoiding any mouth infections
- Proper functioning of liver
- The breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose so as to provide energy to the body.
- Helps tone stomach muscles and those of the intestinal tract
- Healthy skin
- The breakdown of fats and proteins to aid the normal functioning of the nervous system.
5 Reasons You Need Vitamin B Complex
Here are my 5 top reasons you need to get plenty of B Complex vitamins in your diet.
1. Energy Production
Vitamin B1 is needed to help convert the carbohydrates we eat into glucose.
The following B Vitamins are needed at a cellular level to convert glucose into energy – Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6 and Biotin. A Vitamin B deficiency in any of these vitamins can lead to decreased energy production, lethargy and fatigue.
2. Healthy Nervous system
The Vitamin B Complex is essential for the healthy functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B5 is needed for the correct functioning of the adrenal glands and the production of some hormones and nerve regulating substances. Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are essential for the regulation and correct functioning of the entire nervous system including brain function. Vitamin B9 is essential to prevent neural tube defects to the foetus during pregnancy. A deficiency in any of the Vitamin B Complex vitamins can lead to feeling stressed, anxious and depressed.
3. Good Digestion
The Vitamin B Complex is essential for correct digestion, production of HCl (Hydrochloric acid) and to assist in the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Especially vital for good digestion are Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B6. A deficiency in any of these B Vitamins can lead to impaired digestion and deficiency of essential nutrients.
4. Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
The Vitamin B Complex is essential for correct RNA and DNA synthesis and cell reproduction. As our Skin, Hair and Nails are constantly growing and renewing themselves we need the following B vitamins to ensure the good health of these structures – Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12, Biotin and Choline. Deficiencies of any of these B Vitamins can lead to dry, grey skin, dermatitis, wrinkles, acne, rashes, falling hair and weak, splitting nails.
The B Vitamins work so closely with one other that a deficiency in any one B Vitamin can lead to poor functioning of any or all of the others even if they are in good supply. Always take the B Vitamins in a Complex and then top up with any individual Vitamin B, if needed.