There are 13 vitamins that our body needs, and eight of which are made up from the B-group vitamins. Vitamin B is a complex of eight water-soluble B-group Vitamins, all of which are essential for bodily functions such as metabolism of energy and amino acids, support of immune system, ensuring healthy pregnancies and regeneration of red blood cells. Mtabolism is the body’s work, and the B-group vitamins are indispensable in every step.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine plays a prominent role in breaking down carbohydrates to release energy. Consuming more B1 can help reduce fatigue, and can be especially useful for athletes.
Thiamine is also required to support a healthy immune system too. Thiamin occupies a special site on the membranes of nerve cells. Consequently, processes in nerves and in their responding tissues, the muscles, depend heavily on thiamin.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent cell damage particularly in the skin. It supports blood production, the immune system, and breakdown of food for energy. Consuming 400mg of riboflavin daily has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin or nicotinic acid)
Niacin participates in numerous metabolic reactions in the body. It is central in energy-transfer reactions, especially the metabolism of glucose, fat, and alcohol. It also boost your levels of High Density Lipids (HDL; good cholesterol). Regular consumption of alcoholic beverages interferes with the absorption of niacin which could affect the immune system and energy generation of the body.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Pantothenic Acid is involved in more than 100 different steps in the synthesis of lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin (blood cells). It serves as a compound in several metabolic pathways. Adequate consumption of Pantothenic Acid reduces thinning and graying of hair, as well as reduces acne.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxamine)
Vitamin B6 helps with sleep and prevents depression as it is involved in the production of neurotransmitters that regular sleep and mood, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and melatonin. In addtion, pyridoxine is vital in the production of red blood cells and amino acid metabolism.
Research has shown that vitamin B6 influences congnitive performance, immune function, and steroid hormone activity. Unlike other water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B6 is stored extensively in muscle tissue.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin plays an important role in metabolism as a coenzyme which serves in energy metabolic processes. It also plays crucial roles in gluconeogenesis (synthesis of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources), fatty acid synthesis, and the breakdown of certain fatty acids and amino acids. Though it is needed in very small amounts, it’d contributes to healthier skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin B9 (Folic acid/ Folate)
Folate helps convert Vitamin B12 to one of its coenzyme forms and helps synthesize the DNA required for all rapidly growing cells. It is also involved in many amino acid metabolism reactions which prevents anemia and slow memory loss too.
It is a critical B vitamin for pregnant women to prevent birth defects. Several research studies have confirmed the importance of folate in reducing the risks of neural tube defects. The brain and spinal cord develop from the neural tube, and defects in its orderly formation during early weeks of pregnancy may result in various central nervous system disorders and death.
Folate has an important role in defending against heart diseases too. One of folate’s key roles in the body is to break down this amino acid known as homocysteine. Without folate, homocysteine accumulates, which seems to enhance blood clot formation and arterial wall deterioration.
Vitamin B12 (various Cobalamins; commonly Cyanocobalamin or Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B12 and folate are closely related: each depends on the other for activation of metabolism and enzymatic reactions.
The regeneration of the amino acid methionine and the synthesis of DNA and RNA depend on both folate and vitamin B12. In addition, without any help from folate, vitamin B12 maintains the sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibres and promotes their normal growth. Bone cell activity and metabolism also depend on vitamin B12.
Most of these vitamins can’t be stored by the body and have to be consumed regularly in our diet. B12 is found primarily in foods derived from animals. As these vitamins are water-soluble, they are loss or easily destroyed when cooking or processing food. Extended cooking, food processing and alcohol can destroy or reduce the availability of these vitamins.
Include these foods in your meals for a balanced diet packed with Vitamin B:
Find out more about Vitamin B deficiency and toxicity.